Posted on 19.11.15
In a slight alteration to the customary early morning phone call, Lord Sugar turned up unannounced at the house this week, cueing all manner of panic. As the candidates lined up in the ‘brainstorm’ room in different stages of undress, Godfather Sugar gave them the task.
It was the turn of the buy-stock-from-wholesalers-and-sell-task to be completed in the glorious city of Manchester where each team would have their very own discount shop for the day. They had £500 to spend at the wholesalers with the crux of the task being reinvestment in the products that are selling well. The team who had the most assets at the end of the task – cash and stock – would win.
The teams were mixed up slightly with Gary making the move across to Team Versatile, where he was immediately made Project Manager. Not short of confidence, Gary whipped out his nickname of ‘The Postman’, because “he always delivers”. Let’s see if he could on this task. On the opposing side, Scott was named PM for Team Connexus. They made a fairly snappy decision to go for electrical stock, barring in mind none of them have ever bought any electronics from a discount shop. Versatile opted for the more traditional items of pure tat.
As the Beetham Tower came into view, the candidates were ready to be unleashed in Manchester. First on the agenda was a trip to the wholesalers where tutor Sam, not for the first time, made heavy work of the maths. He could be forgiven if he was dealing with noncommutative algebraic geometry, however, basic addition is quite a useful skill in business.
Team Connexus made a naïve faux pas of their own. As they piled their trolleys with a variety of towels, candles and diffusers, Gary and Charleine outrageously asked for a buy one get one free deal. Wholesalers deal on very small margins, so Charleine’s outstretched hand was roundly snubbed and she was offered at best a 5% deduction.
Stock in tow, the candidates descended on the streets of central Manchester to get a few sales in the bag before the second day where they would be selling from their shops. After asking “do you like my signs?” – I was disappointed when nobody picked up on Vana’s professional looking signs which appeared to have been written by a 4 year old, including the strange approach of putting the £ sign after the number!? They were also scolded by Karren Brady after cheekily including a ‘was…now’ price slogan which would be clearly misleading the public. The news for Team Versatile didn’t get much brighter with Scott taking to muttering under his breath when several Mancunians shunned his sales pitches.
After a re-stock at the wholesalers the teams were ready for their second day in the Arndale Centre. Team Connexus were given ‘Discount Haven’ and Versatile had ‘Manchester Discount Store’.
Several arguments ensued as each team set up their shop and became insistent on delivering classic one liners: “This is our toilet world” (Gary – lovely), “we just need to sell some products” (Scott – inspiring) and “can I show you something?” (Joseph – to the sound of police sirens). Scott and Connexus looked doomed from the start with most of his team focussed on the glory of their own sales and already suspicious of any decision made by Scott. Selina was in fine form with her usual furious at everyone outlook in full flow and Brett almost asked Scott to settle things outside in the alley.
The on-goings at the ‘Manchester Discount Store’ seemed positively rosey in comparison to the mess at ‘Discount Haven’ despite Richard displaying some ridiculous ice-skating tactics and PM Gary taking an extremely useful place of lying on the floor. Their selling tactics weren’t quite spot on either, deciding to double the wholesalers value even though Poundland across the way had the same products for half the price! With two hours to go, Gary decided to re-stock the store to get some end of the day sales. Scott’s team meanwhile looked like they were selling in an empty shop with most staff members stood around looking gormless (Sam) or trying to cover their own backs (Selina). Half 5 donged and the shops were closed!
Back in the Board Room, it was time to digest as the results were in. Team Connexus had a value of £962.04, whereas Team Versatile piled in with an impressive £1511.07; cue an insanely cheesy grin from ‘The Postman’ as he stood sipping champagne in the Shard declaring “retail’s detail”.
“Less of a pop-up shop, more of a cock-up shop” opens Lord Sugar to Scott and his team. It’s not long before all the candidates are unloading on each other with both barrels blaring: there was no shortage of home truths flying around! Selina somehow escapes being brought back into the boardroom, despite blaming everyone else throughout the whole task. Scott brings back Brett and Sam to make it an all-male dual. The writing looks like it is on the wall for an increasingly uncomfortable looking Sam as a moody looking Scott states that ‘he didn’t like working with him’. Brett had the air of a man who knows he would live to fight another day.
Alas, it is Sam who gets put out of his misery and is fired, leaving Scott and Brett to straighten their ties out and head back to the house.