Five lessons from the Apprentices’ misadventures in media – @bbcapprentice

coveredWe cringed our way through another hour of entertaining, ridiculous television last night, having missed the scrap episode. Spoilers herein; alongside some of the prime examples of the Apprentice’s idiocy this week (always easier to give and assess from the outside, I know, but that’s my privilege as a member of the license-fee paying public):

  1. Always listen to to t’focus group. That’s why you do them. I think they get too much of an edge, here, to be honest – the focus groups are found for them and they’re told to go. Those idiots didn’t learn it last time (well, the Every Dog example), and didn’t do it this time. Raise the tone does not equal tits and a briefcase. Don’t patronise? Doesn’t translate to a magazine called ‘Hip Replacement’ with features on how to make a phone call. The banter between Lord Sugar and Nick on Hip Replacement’s content was brilliant.
  2. Puns do not translate well. Glenn really loved puns and plays on words too much – hence leaping all over ‘Hip Replacement’ as he did over his own ‘Catsize’ two weeks before. Idiot. — Don’t get me wrong, though, I love a good pun. Just not in any context where I plan to sell anything, except maybe to a tabloid newspaper.
  3. The balance between decision by committee and ridiculous high-handed authoritarian idiocy is apparently a fine one. Both teams struggled with inadequate leadership this week for opposite reasons; Natasha’s desire to take the credit when she thought they were on the up and her determination to do a lads mag in a crowded market that’s been evolving for the last 15 years – and on the opposing front, Jim looking to dissipate the responsibility for all major decisions for everyone.
  4. Listen to the quiet voice. I’m really not a fan of Susan – I think she’s probably one of the lesser bulbs on the programme – but she was flatly ignored by her team. Lots of loud, vocal people agreeing loudly with each other makes it hard for the quiet insight to creep through – I think its as much the responsibility of the leader as it is of the team member to acknowledge the perspectives of the team.
  5. Rate cards are a polite fiction. No-one pays the rate – I’ve seen discounts in excess of 90% off rate card rates on established magazines, never mind a start-up, and I’m in PR! The ‘offers’ they got from the media buyers were polite lies – no responsible media buyer would have put money into either of those publications without some very convincing demonstrations that they could hit some kind of sensible demographic. A free magazine called ‘Hip Replacement’ given out to 60+ people in the street? No wonder a couple of them actually laughed them out of the pitch.

A bonus lesson: ‘agreeance’ is not a word. Jim is an idiot, and should have been out. Don’t get me wrong – they’re all idiots – but Jim’s silver-tongued, mind-numbingly inept handling of the chief role won him the big wooden finger point this week.

Amanda asked why they hugged after the firing – but after this week’s boardroom backstabbery and the fact two of them have to go back and work on the next task together, it seemed like a necessary step. Alan Sugar’s boardroom is not an easy place to be, that last time.

Sidebar: in an act of genuine entrepreneurship, some clever people are auctioning off the magazines they produced in the show. Copies of both ‘Covered’ and ‘HIP replacement’ are currently running at £56 and counting on eBay…