From soap suds to seaweed, HR gets its marching orders as we kiss goodbye to the nice but fluffy Paula Jones, finalist on The Apprentice.
Well, it was a coup in the first place, seeing an HR professional make the final of The Apprentice – a place that is usually reserved for sales and marketing and the odd eccentric entrepreneur. However, it is with sadness that I report, that in week four, Mrs HR got the boot.
For those who didn't see it, the task this week was to create some natural body care products. Sir Alan got the teams to meet him at Kew Gardens which, as usual, has some kind of tenuous link to the task in hand. He also placed Paula and Noorul in charge of the teams and mixed them about a bit.
They then headed over to the Lush HQ in Poole, Dorset to create their products. Empire, PM'd by Paula, set about deciding which natural products they wanted and settled on seaweed. Kate, Debra and James scooped up as much bladderwrack that they could lay their hands on from Poole harbour. Ignite, meanwhile, opted for honey as their natural ingredient and Lorraine, Phil and Kim, aka Rough Tough Cream Puff, went off to collect it.
Paula appeared to be off to a good start but soon admitted that she "didn't do numbers" and allotted the task to Yasmina and Ben. This was her first error as both are clearly candidates for 'the person most likely to sell your kidney while you are sleeping'.
While Ben quickly relinquished any responsibility, Yasmina got totally side tracked sniffing essential oils. Poor Paula was oblivious to the fact that she had poured £700 worth of sandalwood into a vat with some manky seaweed. It took Debra to point out the error and Nick to rub bath salts into the wound before the proverbial penny dropped.
On the plus side, Paula rocked the marketing with great packaging and branding which made Ignite's shower gel look like urine samples and their soap like something to spread on your toast rather than lather over your bits.
When it came to getting the product out to the public, Paula rallied the teams admirably – especially considering they had a mountain of selling to do if they were ever going to wipe the smug, winning smirks off Ignite's faces. Fortunately, Empire's posh and pricey soaps and shower gels sold at Portobello Market like hot cakes, while Ignite’s honey products picked up steadily despite team leader Noorul not selling a bean. Paula and the team also managed to score a coup when they sold a job lot to a trader for £400 and it looked as though they might even turn a profit.
Back in the boardroom, the knives were soon out for Paula and unfortunately for her, Ignite managed to claw their way to victory and were sent off to make sushi and drink posh saki while Empire got to mope in the caff across the road. Paula had already decided to bring Ben and Yasmina back into the boardroom with her. Ben wasn't happy and mumbled that if she tried to pin the Great Sandalwood Swindle on him, she'd be no match for his superior intellect – let's not forget, he won a scholarship to Sandhurst!
Sir Alan however was smitten with the Empire's product. Paula, said Nick, was a good team leader. She motivated her people and was a whiz with the marketing. However, the positives soon turned into negatives and the whole boardroom scene was reminiscent of a wildlife documentary; the hyenas circling the wounded gazelle, ready to pick the meat of her dead bones. Nice, fluffy Paula didn't stand a chance. Perhaps she should have stayed in the safety of the HR department rather than dipping a toe in the back-stabbing corporate world.
Her biggest mistake was selecting Yasmina and Ben who are both so focused on trampling others on the way to the top that they neglected to focus on the task. Paula's second error was not standing up for herself. We know the big man likes a fighter – perhaps that's why Ben is still here? The Apprentice is no place for niceties, and certainly no place for a strong moral code, but let's not forget, this is a game show, and not real life, and I for one, would have been happy to have Paula on my team.
Deputy Editor, HRZone.co.uk