Young Apprentice: flower power

By: Rachel Miller

Date: 10 November 2011

It’s two nil to the girls and time to mix up the teams a bit. Perhaps Lord Sugar feels that it isn’t fair to pit girls versus boys in what is effectively a flower arranging competition.

Or is that a bit sexist? Judging by the boys’ reaction to the task, it seems not. Lewis calls the task “my idea of hell” while James declares, “I hate flowers, nature and animals”. You’re probably opposed to world peace too, aren’t you James?

The teams split up like this:

On Kinetic: James, Harry H, Haya and Hayley. Lizzie is project manager.
On Atomic: Gbemi, Harry M, Zara and Lewis. Hannah is project manager.

It’s fairly simple. First of all, both teams have to pitch for three jobs. One is to provide a classy floral window display for Daniel Galvin’s hair salon. The second is to provide four bouquets for a theatrical opening night. The third job is to decorate a function room at a hotel with posies for the table and a larger flower arrangement for the mantelpiece.

Dodgy double act

Lizzie makes an early mistake in allowing James and Harry H to do the pitches — in order to excuse them from doing the girly flower arranging. These two comedians are hardly ambassadors for an upmarket florist and it shows.

On Atomic, it is Zara and Lewis who hit the road to do the pitches. Zara is impressive — especially at the hair salon. But Lewis looks incompetent with his phone going off twice in the meeting — an absolute no-no.

Atomic easily wins the theatre and hair salon jobs. But Zara manages to stuff up the hotel pitch. Project manager Hannah tells her to offer £165 for this job but Zara goes in at £200 — to allow room for negotiation, she says. But there is no negotiation. This process is more like sealed bids and the other team have quoted £175.

Much can be learned about price in this task. While Atomic has gone in too high on the hotel pitch, they then go too low when it comes to selling bouquets to punters in the street. This is where they might have road-tested a higher pricing strategy because they could always bring their prices down.

Close call

It’s close but Kinetic wins the task with a profit of £463.52 compared to Atomic’s £450.96. As Lord Sugar says, it’s all about margins. Mind you, I can’t help thinking that they never allow for overheads in these tasks — premises, staff costs, tax and so on.

Anyway, Hannah has to pick two team members to bring back into the boardroom and it’s here that she makes a fatal mistake. Lord Sugar has already given Lewis a bit of a hard time, signalling perhaps that he would happily point the finger at him given half the chance. But Hannah lets Lewis off and brings back Zara and Harry M.

So who has committed the biggest crime? Zara got the price wrong at the pitch; Hannah got the prices wrong on the street; Harry M can’t stop bigging himself up and annoying everyone else.

Poor Lord Sugar — he has to fire Hannah, the most likeable of the three. Surely Harry M is on borrowed time now. Every week, he is chastised for his arrogance and every week he sits there with a smug half smile on his face and gets away with it.

Next week: The over-50s.