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The Apprentice - Week 9 - Spurs

This week we are at Tottenham Hotspur FC - biggest single shareholder (and former chairman) Sir Alan Sugar - and the teams have to sell subscriptions to a text messaging service (Spurs On).  Saira is in charge of First Forte, and Paul is the project leader for Impact.

The two teams are brainstorming.  Paul thinks they could advertise on the back of the advertising hoardings (so that the fans could see it).  Saira wants a slogan.  James thinks Saira talks too much, and I think he's right. 

Saira is getting frustrated with Matt House, the Director of Commercial Partnerships at the football club.  She even threatens him by saying that she will complain to Sir Alan.  Understandably, he doesn't take this very well. Meanwhile, Paul's team seem to be doing far better with getting their ideas accepted - they want to use the 'jumbotron' (Electronic scoreboard) and the PA system, and he agrees.

Saira now has the slogan that she wanted - "get your 'f' off to get your Spurs on."  James is given the task of getting Matt's agreement, but he doesn't like it.  James patiently explains that it's a pun, and that only makes things worse because Matt understood perfectly what they were doing, but thinks it's not appropriate.  Actually, I thought it was quite clever.

The following morning both teams get an "emergency briefing" from Nick and Margaret.  They are told that the website and the 'jumbotron' and the PA system are not available, and they can't place anything on the pitch.  Oh, and aggression is fine, but rudeness is not OK - the camera cuts to Saira.  Yes, I think they mean you.  Although this is clearly directed at First Forte, it actually does more harm to Impact , and Tim is upset because Matt had already agreed to what they had proposed.

Back at the house we see Tim and Miriam hard at work while Paul is playing snooker.  He tells us he more of a "third day person".  We see him asleep on the couch.  If they lose, this is going to used against him.

Saira has hired some "glamour girls" to hand out flyers.  This they can do, but that's all they can do, and Saira gets frustrated.  Paul has hired staff as well, but they seem a lot more clued-up and are helping people to send the text message to activate the service.  That could be crucial.  Saira shouting in a megaphone seems to be driving people away, which is not good.

In the boardroom, Paul complains about having everything they had agreed on Thursday being withdrawn on Friday.  Sir Alan seems not to have known about this, but he feels that the teams have to adapt.  

Saira says they had a great marketing strategy. Sir Alan asks what is the point of marketing - and I think we know the answer to that.  Saira says it's to get people interested in the product, but of course Sir Alan is only interested in actual sales (as we saw on the advertising task). Saira won't give up - she says that it was not about face-to-face selling, but about getting the message to the people.  That's the wrong answer - the task was about getting people to sign up for the service on the day. 

The results are First Forte 458 and Impact 704, and the way Impact helped people to sign-up for the service must have been the difference.

Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes is going to cook for the winning team, whilst the losers get fish and chips from the local takeaway.  We hear Gary Rhodes describing the food he is cooking whilst Saira and James walk into the chip shop and look at the price list and the food being kept warm. It doesn't look very appetising (sorry, Chris's fish and chip shop).  In case we hadn't quite got it, we see that Paul and Tim are wearing bow ties and Miriam is also dressed up for dinner.  Ah, it's all about winners and losers.

In the boardroom the next day, Sir Alan says that there is only room in his organization for one big mouth (and we know who that is).  He thinks Saira is a 'bull in a china shop'.  She admits to being highly strung.

James criticizes Saira for the way she spoke to Matt.  Sir Alan tells Raj that he is a nice guy, but isn't sure what he is good at.  He also blames Saira. 

We get to the vexed question of leadership.  Saira thinks that it's telling people what to do and not listening to them.  Sir Alan says that even though he's autocratic he does listen to people.

Saira says that she is often accused of 'blagging' but that it works and other people should try it.  Sir Alan takes exception to her short-term view.  Puzzlingly, Saira nods in agreement.  Sugar says that he has long-term business relationships and although they don't go out dancing together, they have a mutual respect based on honesty.  What you see is what you get."  Apart from the dancing, obviously

Saira is struggling, and tries to argue that people think she is blagging, but actually she is all the things that Sir Alan just said.  That's the sort of argument that 7 year-olds use.  

Then she claims that she is organized and says that she typed up an agenda (and waves a piece of paper).  James looks at Raj and screws up his face.  Saira changes her story and says Raj typed it up.  James raises his eyebrows and smiles. 

Sugar pauses and delivers his verdict:  "Saira you're abrupt, you're abrasive, you sometimes over-step the mark.  I put the failure of the task firmly in your court."  A long pause.  "But I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt simply because of the past things you have done."  Her warns her not to be so abrasive.  He fires Raj instead.

The odd thing is that no-one has mentioned the differences between strategies employed by the teams.  Have Margaret or Nick actually said anything at all apart from announcing the scores.  Wasn't the big difference that Impact helped people sign-up for the service?  Why didn't First Forte think of doing that?

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