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Margaret Mountford Apprentice Watch Week 3

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  Quote Bren Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Margaret Mountford Apprentice Watch Week 3
    Posted: 08 Apr 2009 at 22:40

The Apprentice 2009: Margaret Mountford's Apprentice Watch – Week Three

In her exclusive column, Sir Alan Sugar’s aide previews the home fitness task.


By Margaret Mountford
Last Updated: 5:48PM BST 07 Apr 2009

ast Updated: 5:48PM BST 07 Apr 2009
Candidate Ben Clarke poses with fitness equipment during the third task of the 2009 series of The Apprentice. Photo: BBC

For the first two weeks the boys and the girls were on separate teams. This is not to create a “Battle of the Sexes” but to help viewers identify which team is which as they are getting to know the candidates. Tonight Sir Alan mixes the teams up, which I think is a good idea. First, because if there are cliques developing among the candidates, it splits them up. Second, because it teaches a valuable business lesson: in any company you need to be able to cooperate with people whom you don’t know or don’t like. And, as we see in the boardroom, some of the candidates are close to falling out in spectacular fashion. But others, rather surprisingly, can be glimpsed holding hands!

Week Three’s task should certainly fire their competitive instincts, as Sir Alan challenges the teams to design, market and sell a piece of portable home fitness equipment. Each team must create a product, make a poster which demonstrates it, and then pitch it to two specialist fitness retailers and one major department store. The team with the most orders wins.

Keep a close eye on tonight’s team leaders, who have contrasting management styles. James, who leads Empire, needs to prove himself after receiving an ear-bashing from Sir Alan last week. James likes to delegate and keep his team onside. This can be a good idea: a big part of management is keeping your team happy, especially when they’re under pressure, and in knowing when to criticise and when to encourage. But put James in a sports shop and he’s just a big kid.

Ignite’s team leader is Debra, a fearsome taskmistress who finds it difficult to delegate anything to anyone. As Yasmina says at one point, “When you’re working underneath Debra, you’re just being barked at.” I also sense increasing needle between Debra and Lorraine, who are again on the same team tonight. (Lorraine was one of Debra’s “puppets” in Week One.)

Speaking of Lorraine, have you noticed her wandering accent? Sometimes she speaks with a strong Irish accent, and at other times she sounds entirely English. But the two are never mixed up.

As Sir Alan stresses in the boardroom, the key to this task is the product. The teams dream up a weird assortment of fitness gizmos, some of which are more practical than others. Philip attempts to defy the laws of geometry by inventing a square ball. Empire come up with the bizarrely named “Bingo Buster”, which I’ll leave to your imagination. And in case Ignite hadn’t noticed, there are already plenty of step machines out there – and, for that matter, steps.

One candidate who throws himself into the task is Ben, who fancies himself as something of a fitness expert. In fact, Ben fancies himself full stop. “I’d say out of the men in our team I’m the best looking,” he declares modestly, before slipping on a sleeveless, skin-tight Lycra vest. Once again, Ben sounds worryingly obsessed by sex and money. In Week One he said that making money was better than sex. Tonight he tries to design a piece of fitness equipment that will combine the two. And each week he comes up with a more unpleasant expression than the week before: watch out tonight for the rabbits’ noses!

Because the teams have so much to do in such a short time, they all start to feel the pressure. So it’s no wonder that tempers snap in the boardroom. It’s a fiery showdown and, personally, I think it’s shocking how angry and abusive the candidates become. They start to shout and gesticulate at one another, and seem to forget that Sir Alan, Nick and I are even in the boardroom. For the first time this series, the gloves are truly off.

One part of the programme I always enjoy is the scene just before the candidates return to the penthouse after a firing. You overhear one of the candidates say, “Oh, so-and-so should definitely be fired.” Then when that candidate walks through the door, it’s suddenly, “Ooh, lovely to see you!

I knew you’d survive!” You’d think they’d try to confine their back-stabbing to the boardroom.

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  Quote crimpo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Apr 2009 at 13:06
Good stuff - and she's right about Lorraine's accent!
'If you're old enough you're good enough' - Mike Bassett
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