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Episode 8: Stuart gives his verdict

Stuart Baggs | 21:55 UK time, Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I'm no Robert Winston, but the human brain is an incredible creation. It's not its ability to store huge amounts of information that fascinates me but rather its ability to selectively remember events from the past. For instance we always look back fondly at our school years, when in reality they were probably pretty terrible. Luckily for us, the candidates also seem to suffer from this Selective Memory Syndrome. An affliction which makes for fantastic boardroom scenes, with every candidate claiming responsibility for anything good and convincing themselves they had nothing to do with any mistakes.

With baggage and egos checked in, the teams were off to Paris, a city of course famed for loving children, not driving cars and an insatiable hunger for novelty British lampshades. Enter our Brits abroad, with a special mention this week to Jim for saying everything in English with an off-French accent. Offending the French is a national past time and I'm grateful to Jim for keeping this tradition alive.

Susan was in the driving seat this week and despite my past criticisms, she pulled a good, clean win out of the bag. A new boardroom record was set, and her place assured for another week. 
Melody was the stand out character for me, and winner of this week's Brand award for excellence.  Her linguistic skills are applaudable, although I'm 97% certain her "selective translation" skills may cause a global war at the UN one day. She should seek treatment for what I call Internal Chinese Whispers, whereby a statement in French such as "Yes I think its a good idea" becomes "She said it's OK". She's still finely balanced on the line between confidence and arrogance, but provided she continues to deliver, I have high hopes for this multi-lingual femme fatale.

So we bid a fond fair-well to Leon, a candidate who reached a respectable week 8 in the process but left a less than indelible impression in the annals of Apprentice history.

Thanks for all your comments, a record 27 this week. There seems to be a lot of disagreement with Lord Sugar and the reasoning behind his decision to fire Glenn. I do agree that writing off an entire section of society is at best unfair, however Glen's time was legitimately up for other reasons.

Until next week, take care of yourself and each other.

The Brand


  • Comment number 1.

    Good blog, I thought I was the only one to spot the selective translation, which to me stank! Melody had already decided on the train that she was running the child booster seat off the rails!

    In fairness to her, she did do well in selling but the reality is she closed it off & wouldn't let anyone else have a say other than to leave Tom & Natasha high & dry with the premier retailer. Could this have been a cunning ploy all along to stitch up the others & leave herself sailing out ahead of the team. If it was it must have been mission accomplished as she made the rest of the team look stupid, despite dragging herself through a bit of mud.

    As for Venture, fair play to Suzi, she's suffering from comments that make her look stupid when the reality is probably more likely to be that she seeks evidence & clarification to make an informed decision. She may have worded her questions badly, but just like in the rubbish task, she was simply trying to identify what the pro's and con's of each product would be. It was a shame for her in that task that Zoe (quite poorly and unprofessionally in my eyes) put her down, both on task & in the boardroom.

    Looking forward to another week!

  • Comment number 2.

    In any real world situation Melody would have been fired for purposefully sabotaging the market research, directly resulting in the loss of the task. 3 of the 4 people said the child seat was a good idea and yet she arrogantly defends her research. She also ignored the astute request to research the client and yet thinks she's a business mastermind.

    I would never have anyone in my organisation who is willing to destroy the business at the expense of their egotistical and plainly incorrect agenda. The car seat was an innovative product yet she chose a lamp that had no particular reason for garnering a huge international order.

    I was very dissapointed in Leon for his defense of Melody and in Tom for being so astute and in control at the beginning and then allowing Melody to steamroll him.

    Helen stands head and shoulders above the rest. Jim is a good manager, though makes a few very bad decisions (i.e. HIP Replacement) which would be a concern, and Tom would make a useful addition to a team, though would struggle to lead. The rest are a waste of time.

  • Comment number 3.

    Melody may be brilliant on a personal level, but this task shows she is not a team player. She was detrimental to the entire task. She needs to learn to respect other people and love herself less. In my own business, I would rather give this kind of people a skip. Helen is my fav!

  • Comment number 4.

    How embarassing! Most of the French business people spoke english perfectly, but our contestants, apart from Melody, were appalling. The British are terrible at languages. This advantage had Melody way out in front on the selling. A team player she is not, but this may not be necessary for Lord Sugar, who mmm may not be the best team player!! Leon did seem totally ineffective, definitely time to go, and of course he is not really good tele!

    I thought Karen was horrid to Susan, who was simply talkiing out loud when making comments about what is important to the French people as a nation. How unkind was that? Poor Bambi looked wounded. They do pick on her, but I think she is sound, just needs to toughen up a bit. Helen of course was excellent, real head girl material! Very good pitch and she comes across as sound, professional, self contained and capable - one to watch.

    Tom may be better than he is appearing, he needs to lose the absent minded professer approach and sharpen up! But I like him. The others? Nah!

  • Comment number 5.

    After watching the first eight episodes, there is NO DOUBT in my mind who Lord Sugar should hire.... HELEN. She is a trustworthy and brilliant businesswoman. With regard to episode 8 in Paris... I could not believe how that back-stabbing and highly dubious individual Melody, got off the hook following her lies and subsequent sabotage relating to the research of the child booster seat/bag and teapot light.
    Are Lord Sugar, Nick and Karen not aware of all the information we see on TV? Melody clearly gave contradictory information to her team leader regarding the public research of the above mentioned products, in order to get her own way. Unfortunately, weak team leader Tom, who wanted to go with the child booster seat/bag, allowed Melody to walk all over him. It is not for me to tell Lord Sugar how to do his job but if I were him, I'd take a good look at Melody's behaviour in this task and think again about the compliments he paid her. Beware Lord Sugar, if you appoint Melody as your eventual partner. I suggest you appoint a top multi-linguist to mull over EVERYTHING Melody says in any language other than English. I wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her. In conclusion Lord Sugar, do not be fooled by Melody's so-called awards.... she believes that the Moon is further away than the sky. I rest my case.

  • Comment number 6.

    I would like to know what happens about manufacture and delivery of the orders that they all make and what happens to repear orders? Some ideas are great, I especially like the rucksack child seat and strange that nobody mentioned how useful it would be for a family who likes to walk,hike, camp etc so they can always be assured of child safety if they have to take a taxi or car at some stage.

  • Comment number 7.

    melody is manipulative,yes she had already made her decision not to go with the booster seat,i think tom should have been more stern and said no ive made the decision and going with it,i cant believe that she got away with what she did,the appointments she kept for herself when it was supposed to be a team thing,i really like tom and hope that he becomes more assertive,helen is also one to watch,as for melody i wouldnt trust her at all,i think we are going to see a bit more of tom hes a bit of a dark horse.looking forward to next weeks episode.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hard to see, so far, how Helen cannot win. 8 wins a row is no co-incidence and a fantastic pitch to bring in 214K Euros. She is streets ahead of everyone !
    The rule of thumb for Apprentice is that doing nothing useful in a task is far worse than doing something and making mistakes. So Leon had to go. His excuses about not speaking French were pathetic..no-one in Venture spoke French and yet they annihalated Tom's team.
    As for the rest, I like Tom - he has good instincts and is often correct. Not sure he is so strong leading. Susan is very smart for her age and is no mouse - she pushed the order up and sold 11K in this task. Zoe is no-nonsense and honest, again good qualities.
    Don't see any hope for the rest.

  • Comment number 9.

    Stuart's blog is, once more, very good and I agree with many of the subsequent comments here. I shall briefly relate my impressions of each candidate on the losing team rather than write in continuous prose because I had just finished a comment earlier this eveing on this very blog when, in the middle of posting it, I accidentally refreshed the page. Unfortunately, I could not retrieve what had disappeared in front of my incredulous eyes, but I resolved to resurrect by recollection some of the sentiments expressed therein. Thus follows the result of my endeavours.

    Tom- the PM was criticised by Lord Sugar for not adhering to his inventor's instincts when it came to the hybrid bag/seat, the promotion of which by Helen from Team Logic persuaded La Redoute to make a considerable investment. That duly won Logic the task and propelled Venture into the boardroom, where Tom cited their failure to enamour (in truth, it was an awful embarrassment!) La Redoute as the difference between the teams. He was near enough right in that regard, despite Karen's objections. He was a weak leader, but Melody, by her greedy, autocratic conduct, was a mutinous influence. Lord Sugar will have observed Tom's abysmal sales performance, but he nonetheless has virtues that Leon doesn't possess and therefore Lord Sugar was sensible to retain his services on this occasion.

    Melody- She conveyed her ideas and interpreted responses well in the foreign language, but Lord Sugar, in complimenting her in the boardroom and not undertaking a more stringent inspection of her behaviour on consulation from Nick, overlooked many faults. He seemed to impugn Tom's assertion of her duplicity but Tom, of a placid sensibility, is not easily affronted and there was evidence to suggest that Melody had sabotaged their efforts by communcating false information. She could not overcome her prejudice against the seat/bag product and would have been relieved that the tea-pot shaped lamp shade was received with such enthusiasm by small French businesses; otherwise I'm sure Melody's errors would have crystallised and therefore compelled Lord Sugar to eject her instead of Leon. Melody might also have been accused of hijacking the leadership and distributing unequally the meetings with the buyers she had obtained. She relinquished but one of the smaller ones to Leon and left Tom and Natasha to tackle the big pitch unprepared. In the end, her ruthless determination impressed Lord Sugar and that was sufficient to save her. However, with further consideration, Lord Sugar might feel he was too charitable towards her here.

  • Comment number 10.

    My comment continued:

    Natasha- Hers was quite an anonymous performance but, as we have seen before, she didn't suffer despite a poor contribution because she accompanied the PM everywhere on the task. People who work together frequently tend to develop an affinity and Tom trusted her more than the sub-team consisting of Leon and Melody.

    Leon- Well, to me, he was an insupportable bore; but I promise I am impelled by no bias when I say he deserved to go. His inaction, bordering on indolence, on this task should have alarmed Lord Sugar, who is seeking a dynamic business partner. His reticence, which drew Lord Sugar's attention again this week, obviously extends to his command of French. However, his bemoaning such a disadvantage sounded ridiculous when it was an impediment equally applicable to all the candidates except Melody. Susan's self-confessed ignorance of French culture, for example, didn't prevent her from securing a laudable sale worth £11k to a mobile phone store.
    Nor had Leon conceived a forceful self-defence fit to be recited to Lord Sugar in the event of an emergency such as he encountered last night. He failed to blow his trumpet loud enough, whereas Tom related his accomplishments volubly.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think Melody was responsible for the loss and she should have been fired. It is clear that her research skills are not great. She interviewed people in the French metro/tube station and came up with saying French people use metro/tube instead of cars. She was at a tube station in Paris, what else she was expecting people to say if she had gone to a car park then she would have probably said French people do not use the public transport. She is not a team player her mistakes cost the team; Helen should be the winner….. She is a winner already

  • Comment number 12.

    While doing the task - why do people
    - think they and only they are right?
    - leave all traces of common sense behind?
    - act like total jerks?
    - start digging holes for other team members to fall into?
    - start covering their back-sides in preparation for the board-room

    When they enter the board room - why do people
    - get affected by short term memory loss?
    - turn into pathalogical liars?
    - gang up on the team member they think Lord Sugar is going to fire?
    - take credit for everything that went right in the task - when they clearly did not?
    - blame everything that went wrong on others - when clearly they had a major part in it?

    Well whatever the answers to these questions, I wouldn't want a thing to change :)

  • Comment number 13.

    I agree 100% with the praise that others have given Helen - she's a class act, genuinely intuitive and able to make her own mark without resorting to petty infighting and sabotage. If Sugar is choosing on merit she's an obvious candidate, but his positive reaction to Melody this week (egged on by the awful Karren Brady) hints that he sees mouthy self-interest as a key entrepreneurial quality and might overlook the most capable people in favour of the most aggressive and self-important. Five years ago Ruth Badger proved that a candidate can be assertive and dynamic but also ethical and truly talented. She was the real deal, Stella and Yasmina have also flown the flag for serious achievers but for every one of them we have to put up with two or three deluded self publicists who make good TV.

  • Comment number 14.

    Specific request from Tom to Melody and Leon to research the french contacts as a priority before the other sub-team got there the next day. It was on a phone call to Melody and I bet she did not even tell LEON. I am sure he thought the task was sewn up and already won by Melody on day 1.


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