Blog Entry by Nicola Maycock, Consultant, A&DC Ltd
The six remaining candidates were feeling the heat this week, with Stuart eloquently summing up the tension by saying “it’s like walking into a room full of knives blindfolded, you don’t know how bad you’re going to get cut” (am I alone in thinking if he got paid by the sound bite he’d be a billionaire by now?)
This week, the candidates had to set up and run a London tour company. Stuart led team Apollo (comprising Liz & Stella) with Jo heading up team Synergy (with Jamie & Chris). Stella immediately put forward her idea of a “cockney tour” about which she was “very passionate” (Drive). Meanwhile, team Synergy opted for a “ghouls and ghosts” tour, put forward by Jamie.
We saw a resurgence of some of Jo’s initial aggressive behaviour from the early episodes (low Emotional Intelligence and a lack of Learning Agility). Poor Jamie bore the brunt of it, as Jo attempted to herd him around London like a small child, both criticising him for lagging behind and going ahead without her. In the end he lost it, only to be accused by Jo of being aggressive – with no apparent sense of irony.
The pricing strategies of the two teams were interesting. Stuart relied on his legendary ‘gut instinct’ (low Intellect) plumping for “£30-40”, a price so ridiculous the Visitor Centre Manager remarked “are they going to keep the bus?”. Chris pitched for Synergy with a more realistic price and an offer of 20% commission on their total earnings. Whether this showed Intellect is debatable. Although Lord Sugar called it “adventurous” and “innovative”, you can’t help thinking that if Synergy had lost, his decision would have been perceived more in line with Jo’s description as “absolute foolishness”.
Then came the selling. Stuart just couldn’t help himself, transforming into a cockney town crier, encouraging potential customers to “come to London and have a taste of my eels”. When both teams were put in direct competition for customers, things got nasty. Stuart poached customers, described Synergy as “amateurs” and offered to undercut them by £4 (low Values). There was “handbags at dawn” when Stuart and Chris squared up to each other leading to some choice language and threats, demonstrating more low Values from Stuart and a tendency for Drive in Overdrive from Chris.
On the Apollo bus, Stella admitted map reading wasn’t a strength and took the tourists on a wild goose chase, ending up asking a traffic warden for directions! However, Stella was keen to show Lord Sugar that she is more than just “corporate and wooden” by saying she “can be quite silly” (Learning Agility).
On the other bus, Jamie went down well with the tourists despite his lack of knowledge about seemingly simple landmarks “this is the River Thames, the second largest river in London” which raised a not uncommon grimace from Nick. However, Jamie did show a lack of judgement (Intellect) by describing the gory details of Sweeney Todd in front of children. Nevertheless, the tourists loved him, earning £67.66 in tips compared to Stella’s paltry £8.49!
With Team Apollo losing, sofas across the nation creaked with anticipation, fully expecting to see Baggs board the bus to Firedsville, but much to everyone’s amazement, he managed to save himself. He pulled the “I’m only 21” card AGAIN, and took Lord Sugar on a misty eyed journey back to his early days as an entrepreneur by emphasising his similar traits in a dignified manner (Intellect and Emotional Intelligence) leading to the good Lord admitting, “I’m going soft”. At the end of the day, Stuart offered Lord Sugar “a whole field of ponies” to Liz’s “one trick pony” and forced Lord Sugar to admit “Nutty as it is, he makes more sense to me” and it was she that had to go.
With our long-running favourite out, next week’s gruelling interrogations could finally expose Stuart’s outrageous promises and show us whether Lord Sugar was right to buy in to the ‘Brand’. One thing’s for certain, the Baggs cheesy sound bite fund will experience a titanic windfall.
It’s almost too close to call now, whilst Stuart may be a field of ponies, it’s Chris’ dark horse that is the one to watch.