Posted on 5.11.15 by Christian Mancier
The Apprentice was back on our screens last night featuring a challenge to create, write, publish and sell a children’s book aimed at 3 to 5 year olds. Having two children at home who fall into this category and sitting down with them every night to read them their bedtime stories, I was intrigued to see what the children, sorry, “candidates” could come up with.
Sam, a private tutor, captained team Connexus with Charleine, hair and beauty salon owner, captaining team Versatile. With April (degree in creative wring) on team Versatile facing up to Sam (degree in English literature) the scene was set for some literary wizardry……alas poor Yorick it was not to be (or should that be “bee”).
Versatile came up with a main character who was a bumble bee and his journey of making honey and meeting various other animals along the way. Whilst they opted for a rhyming verse the “rhyming” of “bee” and “honeeeeey” was stretching it a little.
Connexus took a different approach with Sam (or should that be Samuel, no Sam, no Samuel, he can’t decide) taking an eternity to come up with a concept of a mythical creature that was a mix between an elephant and a dragon and which I’m glad was expressly pointed out as I was struggling to work out what it was! This creature was called Snottydink and the book included child friendly (!!) words such as dire, quell and rife.
The highlight for me was watching the focus groups where there was a badly behaved, immature, hyper excitable bunch of candidates pitching to a group of well behaved, mature, sensible 3 year olds looking decidedly unimpressed at the books and even less impressed at the silly faces and dancing from the candidates.
Once printed, published and run by the highly discerning focus groups it was time to let the candidates loose on every book store from Waterstones to the small independents.
After the inevitable sniping over who should be pitching to the large multiple retailers (Charleine versus Richard) it was the usual story of failed pitches, fumbling financials, panic selling and wholesale last-minute price slashing with Sam mis-judging his target market by a country mile, trying to sell Snottydink to exclusive book stores in Charring Cross known for their specialism in antique and specialist books.
The number of books sold was pretty similar between the teams (Connexus 205, Versatile 210) but it was team Versatile and their buzzy bee that “lived happily ever after” (a pun borrowed from Lord Sugar himself) with sales of £690 compared to £587 for Connexus, helped largely by Charleine’s last ditch disposal of a box of 125 books for £2 each.
So into the boardroom and enough puns from Lord Sugar to fill a book….now there’s a better idea already. Sam displayed his usual indecisiveness when deciding who to bring back into the boardroom and eventually plumped for Bret and Natalie.
And it was Natalie who was eventually fired on the basis of a pitch Karen described as “could not be worse”, claiming illness prevented her from participating fully and a complete lack of any form of fight in the boardroom….where she looked like a candidate who knew she was on the way out and had mentally been sacked as soon as she was called back in by Sam.
So next week sees the candidates having to set up a handyman business. Quite who would let this lot lose with a paint brush, spanner or lawn mower on their property is beyond me but it will be good to see them actually get their hands dirty for once.