The Apprentice 2009 – Episode 6 heavy shelling & shocking selling

Heavy gunfire rains down on The Apprentice contenders this week as Sir Alan subjects them to a particularly fearsome attack.

30th April 2009 at 9:48 am

The sniping was unrelenting. Bomb blasts of abuse rained down. Shell shock prevailed.

Sir Alan’s own brand of put-downs were so abrasive on this week’s episode of The Apprentice he must have had the BBC’s lawyers scurrying for their tin helmets and copies of slander case law.

Noorul who finally got fired received a particularly shocking parting shot in the back from Sir Alan, who quipped:

Whoever employs him, better get a receipt.

Meanwhile James was likened to a village idiot who’d gone missing.

But it wasn’t just Sir Alan who was hurling abuse. Debra outrageously and unwisely kicked off in the boardroom with Nick (yes .. Nick!), Philip continued his running battle with Lorraine, James berated Ben for almost calling him into the boardroom and Ben refused to take any more shit from a bunch of tough nut antiquarian booksellers.

From the off we were left in no doubt by the programme’s editors and writers that this episode was going to be all out war.

Ben, who’d received a scholarship to army officer training college Sandhurst, but for some inexplicable reason had never taken it up said:

Under those situations where I am under extreme pressure i.e. heavy gunfire, explosions going off around me, people getting injured, that’s when I bring a team together.

All well and good, but valuing and selling a rug, a skeleton and a few jellied eels among other things, proved a mission too far. As project manager for the first time, 22 year old Ben was more Dad’s Army Corporal Jones, than Iraq war Colonel Tim Collins.

The key to this week’s task was identifying correctly the value of a selection of items. They included an expensive rug at over £200, a first edition James Bond book, a medic’s skeleton, some valuable antique shoes, a bunch of old tat and two vats of jellied eels.

Sir Alan had pointed out there was a twist in this task all about selling: the twist being it wasn’t about selling everything, but selling the most valuable items. Judgement day in the boardroom involved subtracting the price items were sold for from their real value to work out a profit or loss.

Both Ignite and Empire sold very poorly and had no real concept of the value of anything. The spectacle of both teams hoiking a £200 rug around the streets of London finding it impossible to sell for a pittance was a great example of turning a silk purse into a sow’s ear.

Ben’s tactic, as the day drew to a close, was to offload everything by ‘finding some absolute nutcase and flogging it”.

Meanwhile Ignite team leader Philip continued to ignore Lorraine who rapidly identified the rug and antique shoes as worth a pretty penny.

He did, however, come up with the ingenious idea of selling a medic’s skeleton to punters in a pub opposite a London hospital. Amazingly, he actually found someone (not a medic) who’d wanted a skeleton all his life and stumped up £150 for it.

Back in the boardroom Ben’s team suffered defeat with a hefty loss of £169, while Philip’s team were also poor with a loss of £39.

When the losses were totted up and it became clear that both teams had completely missed the point of the task, the silence was deafening. The deathly hush wasn’t only the quiet before the storm, it was also recognition of abject failure.

Classic moment for me this week was the look on Sir Alan’s face when Margaret accused Lorraine of being the ‘Cassandra’ of the team (someone everybody refused to believe). His expression was a combination of horror, confusion and strain, like a man trying to give birth to the complete edition of the encyclopaedia Britannica.

By this time Ben was all at sea – so indecisive that he couldn’t work out who to bring back into the boardroom, opting for Noorul (safe bet) and then James before heading back to Debra who’d already received a dressing down by Sir Alan for abusing ‘him’, by which he meant Nick.

Sir Alan speculated that Ben was a broken man, before fixing on Noorul who he’d clearly wanted to sack weeks ago.

The battle was over, but the war goes on.

Quote of the week from Sir Alan describing Ben: “Your mind is like concrete. Thoroughly mixed, but set in its ways.”

Business lesson of the week: no point pricing everything, if you know the value of nothing.


Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog.

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  1. Another entertaining write up Alex – many thank!

  2. Thanks Ian, glad you enjoy them. They’re fun to write too!

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