Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fine dining on the street- The apprentice.

Week 6- Setting up a mobile gourmet restaurant in Edinburgh. This week’s task proved a tricky one for both teams and it needed a lot of attention to details. Location was crucial this week. The teams had to come up with one gourmet signature dish and sell it on the streets of Edinburgh out of a mobile restaurant. The emphasis was on the quality of the food just as much as on keeping costs low and maximizing profit margins. This week Lord Sugar chose the PMS himself. Team Sterling’s PM was Jenna team Phoenix’s PM was loud mouth Adam, he finally had to put his money where his mouth is... Sterling decided to go Scottish and created a beef casserole with haggis. Phoenix decided on Italian cuisine, though there were other suggestions from the team, Adam felt this was the best way especially since the costs can be kept low. When Tom suggested sushi Adam actually asked who eats sushi? no one in his right mind would do that he said... Both teams got culinary experts to assist them in creating and making the dish. Phoenix got to work with a famous Italian chef. He helped them with their meatballs and pasta idea. Adam was very cheap, he wanted to cut out from the dish even the fresh rosemary... Sterling had the help of a famous local chef to create their dish thinking that by going local, it will appeal to tourists as well. Jenna played it risky and went for high quality ingredients. They did get a chance to go to a food fair first to do some market research and see how its done. The next step was branding a remodeling the “store”. Adam asked Stephan, Jade and Katy to do the branding and marketing. Sterling’s process was actually done more as a team. Adam wanted to use the chef’s name as he was Italian and well known, that was a good idea however, the sub team disagreed and chose to go with “Utterly delicious” as a compromise they added meatballs. It didn’t sound Italian, as far as branding goes it was a missed opportunity. They could have sounded more authentic, this chef was very well known and they didn’t cash in on that though he was happy to help them. The sub team actually made many of the decisions, Adam had just a little too much faith and dependence on Stephen and Katy in my view so as a manager, he had no authority nor control. The teams had to arrange licensing as well. Sterling did make some calls to the city information center for example to figure out where would be the best location. They added the tourist twist and got dressed up in Scottish outfits to get people in the mood, they even had a guy playing traditional pips to attract attention. Katy told the team they should go to the football stadium since the Ranges were playing that day and the team agreed. Though their costs were only about 50 p (what??) Adam decided to price it at 5.99 pounds! Had he priced at at a reasonable 2.99 pounds more suitable for a football crowed, it would have been different. Lord Sugar said it best:”... the Rangers don’t even pay their striker that much..” it was too expensive, the dish didn’t look good and sales were low. The sub team put costumes on, Katy was actually dressed as a pizza..they took to the streets to try drive traffic from the streets as they realized they have to move. Stephen saw a tour operator and made a deal with the driver. The bus goes out every 15 minutes, they were allowed to go on and promote them selves. Thinking they hit the jackpot, they called Adam excitingly to say move here to where the bus stops, traffic will be crazy! Katy treated the people on the bus like silly children so there were no takers, they also missed the next bus..Stephen made the decision its time to quit and went a head to help selling with the others. It was a good idea which was poorly executed. Sterling took Schot’shot to a busy location, they did struggle a bit to sell resulting in them moving to another location. The problem Jenna faced was that she had no room to maneuver qua price, their costs were high. Adam went quickly from 5.99 to 2 pounds... In the board room Sterling was the winner! It turned out the sales team’s hard work and Jenna’s risky strategy paid off. They spent 268 pounds but they made a profit of 319 pounds. Adam’s team spent only 90 euros! Adam was simply too greedy therefore the profit was only 298 pound which is amazingly low considering. Had he sold for a reasonable price fitting the location he would have sold much more turning a healthy profit. The failure of the task lay primarily with the location combined with a high price for something that looked like dog food if were honoest and the branding team making wrong decisions. Stephen was very good at fending everything in the direction of others on the sub team. A very un attractive quality when you cant accept responsibility. Adam showed his market trading mentality (his day job outside the process) is very much present and doesn’t fit a business such as the one Lord Sugar is interested in however, he did get a second chance and so, in the end Katy was fired. Rightly so, she pushed the wrong location, she wanted to price the dish even higher then Adam at 7.99 which is crazy. She too, missed an important opportunity within the branding. She failed to see the benifits of using the chef’s name and she's a brand developer...–it was time for her to go. Adam and Stephen should be next... Was Lord Sugar right? Please add your thoughts and comment below! Have a great day! Diti.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Apprentice- Making movement into money!

Tonight’s episode was acceptingly good and it ended with a total shock too but let’s take it from the top.. Lord Sugar thought up a great task this week requiring real innovative thinking. The teams had to invent a new form of fitness programme and license the rights to run it to gyms across the nation. Making movement into money! So leading team Sterling was Ricky Martin (he must get a laugh or two when he introduces himself..) I thought their concept was good, they chose to combine two popular trends rather then invent a completely new workout. They combined martial arts and dance, they called it- Beat Battle. Ricky and Laura came up with the movements and the workout. These were to feature in the promotional video. They went to a boxing arena and asked the help of a dance group to decide on the moves.
Later Duane was put in charge of the video, he chose however, not to listen to any feedback from the sub team and flew solo so to speak.
Ricky was in charge of the pricing: 45 pounds per month and two months free if they chose a yearly package. A little on the expensive side. All in all, they did a good job. Ricky delivered the pitches very well, they even added the moves live demonstrated by Laura I thought that was a nice touch.

Leading Phoenix was Stephen which actually works in the health and fitness industry. I must say, they were silly like their workout from the get go. One of their ideas was to actually do something with speed dating..
I was expecting them not to be taken seriously. They went retro-disco with an 80s feel and decided to go for something totally unique-Groove Train. The name is as silly as the workout...
They incorporated props like skipping rope, space hopers and hoola hops into their routine.

The focus/help group was three dancers dressed like Olivia Newton John when she was doing Physical! Adam added some Michael Jackson/thriller movements making everyone watching cringe.. The video was a cheesy as they come, showing 5 signature moves shot in a 80s night club.
They priced it lower at 35 pounds per month or 13,500 for a yearly based package.

They had a really big problem though, when asked about the props Stephan just blurred out they will supply all the equipment. He had no idea how much that would actually cost, initially he said 3.5 pounds per kit.
Had this task been about profits they would have lost for sure but it was about selling licenses for their workout.

Entering the board room, I was thinking this week it’s clear! The Groove Train is ridiculous, the industry execs they pitched to were concerned about the room the props will take up and the target group.
Surly they are about to go down...

The first chain hated them, they did like Beat Battle but not as is. They offered first to develop it further.
Chain two hated the Groove Train too and liked Beat Battle so they bought licensing for 2,950 pounds.
The 3rd chain hated Beat Battle (what??) and lord and behold, they liked Groove Train for the family market (again, what??) They bought licensing for 12,850 pounds..
Phoenix actually won! I'm pretty sure anyone watching, didn't see that coming...I didn’t expect anyone to take them seriously but there you go!

The feedback from the execs said Ricky was good, well prepared with a very good concept the problem lay with execution, meaning the video. It didn’t show enough combat moves it did show too much dance which already exist in the market.
For that, Duane was fired..Shame! He was good and very competent.

Yes, he made major mistakes in directing and editing but he was not the weakest member of the team. Ricky made a bad management move and brought in with him the people that contributed the most, allowing once again for the others with close to zero impute slide on to next week.

Who would you fire? Cant wait for next week...!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jane- You're (finally..) fired!

My apologies for a delayed post everyone, I spent the week in Spain and the only shows you have on TV there are in Spanish...So-

The Apprentice- Week 4:

It was an interesting task this week, all about the saying: One men’s trash is another’s treasure.
Lord Sugar asked the teams to source second hand stock, they then have one day to sell it for maximum profit in a shop set up in Brick lane, east London.
Both teams received 1,000 pounds.
Did you know dealing in second hand stock is a 2 billion pounds a year industry?

Laura was the PM for Sterling while Tom was the PM for Phoenix. Two completely different styles of management and strategies.
Laura chose to turn trash into cash, buy as many items as possible for as cheap as possible spruce them up adding value and hopefully raising the profit margins.
Tom chose a more risky strategy, minimalistic so no clutter. Quality over quantity basically less is more!
Only it’s a thin line between minimal and emptiness and they did not see the size of the shop before buying their stock making this risky.

Sterling named their shop Vintage gold. Phoenix was named Retro station.

Laura’s team ended up buying 200 items, Gabrielle got another chance at showing her creativity honestly, I wasn’t very impressed. She claimed to know what’s hot qua design- thinking its cheesy touristy Union Jack..? Laura forgot one key point though- sprucing up costs money and you do need real expertise.

Tom’s team bought only 50 items...selectively picked. He initially gave out only 200 pounds to buy stock! This seemed a little foolish at first but no one stood up to him so to speak, they did as best they could what he delegated, complained to the cameras however.
Laura’s team was much more enthusiastic, chaotic maybe and worked very much as a team.
Both teams bought in auction houses, house clearance, car boot sales and junk stores.

The sprucing up took up so much time that Sterling opened their store late, their designed proved to be very hard to sell so the sales tactic was very pushy and aggressive especially by Jane. Around lunch time, Laura decided to print fliers and send a promotional team out to the streets bringing the clients over hoping the traffic will mean cash.
Their stock did not look the part, the vintage did not look authentic and the shabby chic was mostly shabby..Visitors said they didn’t “buy” it"!

Tom’s team sale technic was more friendly, easy going and the items selectively picked proved to a be a success. They did add stock during the day so the shop doesn’t look empty.

In the board room Lord Sugar announced that Laura’s team made a profit of 783 pounds, their costs totaled 600 pounds.
Phoenix made a profit of 1,063 pounds, costs totaling in just 300 pounds!

So who would you blame for the lose?
To me it’s clear- The sprucing up was out of control, no one checked it before hand. Gabrielle's creativity got them no where fast!

Lord Sugar also thought the was no order or control over the budget. Laura said Gabrielle was like a child in the candy store, she bought things with out really taking a moment to think about it however, she was the PM!
They did no market research qua design. They took Gabi's word for it which proved a mistake as Union Jack was too cheesy, people didn’t like it and their shabby chic attempt wasn’t a good one.

He had to choose from Gabrielle, Laura who might have missed the plot and couldn’t manage her team or Jane, who has shown nothing through out the process and sold only 10 pounds worth..can you imagine??

Gabrielle literally saved herself by saying to the others at least I tried, what did you do? Apparently Lord Sugar liked that.
Jane being on the loosing team from the start, selling so poorly and being very aggressive with the clients was the fourth victim and was fired!
I think it was a mixed blame between Gabi and Laura. I would still fire Gabi.
Jane is an unlikeable person in my eyes, full of herself. She has an impressive CV on paper only though and she thinks she’s better then the rest and yet, has nothing to back it up with. Maybe she sold poorly but that didn’t cost them the task. She shouldn’t have been fired on this task but I wont miss her..

Tom is a man of few words, he take’s risks and he might just be my favorite to win

Tune in on Thursday for week 5! Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Michael- With regret, you're fired!

The Apprentice- Week 3:

This week the task given by Lord Sugar was to invent, manufacture, brand and sell an original condiment.
The teams were mixed and both had different approaches to the task:
The boy’s team Phoenix- led by Katy, chose table sauce meaning mass market. They manufactured spicy ketchup called Bellissimo.
The girl’s team Sterling- led by Duane, chose something more niche and original...Chutney- original flavor called infusion- pineapple&chilly chutney.
This week decisions were made fast and no time was wasted on bickering, a step forward some would say:))

Lord Sugar set up one meeting with a big grocer, the rest had to be done using their own selling strategy.

Both teams sent the production sub teams to the factory. A sample had to be made ready within the hour for the pitch to the mass grocer.
Team Sterling was led in the factory by Jane who by the way, again showed very poor skills though this is right up her ally. She can’t even figure out costs!
Since they did not taste until the very end, they found out it’s too spicy but had no time to start over. They went to their pitch without a sample and basically said, we have a great product please buy even though you can’t see it or taste it...That was embarrassing!
They should have at least had an empty jar with the label and branding for show.
Phoenix led by Rickey had their sample ready on time and the pitch went well, an order was placed.

Unlike Sterling’s production team, Phoenix struggled through the whole process making serious mistakes which ended up costing them 1/5 of their product!
They made in my view and those in the board meeting as well as the prospects, other crucial mistakes: Bellissimo was miss spelled!
The small details in marketing&branding are what will make it or break it. Many don’t realize how truly important that is. The gentlemen they were pitching to said immediately you miss spelled your name..
It make’s you look un professional! You have to get these things right!
Another mistake was the label, it showed a big red pepper with Bellissimo on top. It doesn’t say what the product is though...

Next step- sell sell sell!
Katy did not spend any time on costing big mistake! They aimed at mass market meaning high volume-low costs!
Because the production team made only around 320 bottles, the price had to go up. Would you pay 3.99 pounds for Ketchup?..
It was simply too expensive. They had to change their sales strategy quick from trade to selling to the public to try turn things around.

Duane’s sub team went back to the grocer with a sample this time and secured an order. A bigger order since their pricing was right..
Katy went from trade to public- they sold in the mall and took to the streets targeting big restaurants. Duane’s team combined the two. They chose a supermarket which was not very successful, people didn’t like to be disturbed on their lunch break. A market might have been a better place.
They too took to the street and went to small shops.
Both teams didn’t sell all their items.

So the winner was....Team Sterling! They sold 607 jars and made a profit of 1,028 pounds! Team Phoenix sold 305 bottles and made a profit of just 585 pounds.

They lost because of production mistakes and not enough selling. You can not target mass market and manufacture only 300 bottles with an expensive price tag. Once they lost 1/5 of their product they were doomed.
They didn’t have enough of the product effecting their costs and ultimately their recommended price.
They were right to turn to the public once they realized this but they still didn’t have enough to sell to make it up.
Maybe the PM should have been in the factory, seems important enough to me! Possibly there were too many cooks in the kitchen too.
They ended up in the infamous Bridge café to discuss the loss and what had happened.

Michael was the manager of the sale’s sub team pitching to trade. He was too quite, he didn’t sell well and let them rip him apart so he was fired.
He wasn’t a strong candidate, he isn't tough enough but Rickey is with out a doubt the one that got away! The lose had everything to do with production which he ran.
He talks the talk but hasn’t really walked the walk, maybe next week!

Was Lord Sugar right in his decision?
Feel free to post your comments and ideas below!

I wish you all a happy Easter and a happy&kosher Pessach!