Darren Westlake, co-founder of Crowdcube, reviews the third episode in the latest series of The Apprentice.
The phone rings at 6.15 – the girls are already dressed and primped, it can only mean a new week of The Apprentice.
This week's task is Condiment Challenge - to produce, brand and sell a condiment (chutneys and sauces to you and me) and make as much profit as possible. Apparently we get through £13m pounds worth of the stuff each week. Amazing, who knew?
It wasn't the episode that will stick in your memory. The teams did a little swap round as is LordShooga's want, with Katy (is she lazy or a scapegoat?) moving to the boys team and Dwayne swapping sides to work with the pack of girls. Phoenix appear to get on remarkably well, backing each other's ideas and getting on with the job, whilst the Girls' team is all hair flicking, eyeball rolling and disagreement. Oh yes, and The Boys have won the last 2 weeks.
The teams get taken to St Katherine's Docks. LordShooga appears and informs them that the docks were significant in the spice routes of Europe, the West Indies, Africa and the Far East. They look less than underwhelmed when told what the task is.
Dwayne immediately puts himself forward to project manage the Girls. Team Stirling. Jane isn't too happy, she has experience in food and drinks industry, but as she was Team Leader last week, she surely can't think she can be it again can she? I'm sure there are rules to these things. However Dwayne, who was pretty instrumental in the winning of the task the week previously, insists and off they go, choosing their product. Dwayne wants a chutney, Jane wants a healthy dressing, he agrees with her but forges ahead anyway, saying he wants a "quality luxury condiment" - is this a wise choice? Jane is "in the industry" and she says that the trend is in healthy foodstuffs, I'd be inclined to go with her choice, rather than just another chutney - I love chutney, but there's plenty of jars populating the world already and successful entrepreneurs need some sort of meaningful differentiation.
Heading up the Boys team - Phoenix - is Katy who puts herself forward against Ricky Martin.
Their choice is a tomato sauce, aimed at the mass market. The name: Bellissimo. This is the Italian word for beautiful, doesn't really say what it is, and when it comes to designing the label, that is equally unspecific. The design team reject their initial image, a tragic sunset scene complete with nasty font for an image of a pepper. Later Ricky states that people weren't sure what the pepper stood for, that the packaging didn't imply what the product was "should have had a pepper on one side and a chilli on the other" - there, that would have done it!
Production goes a little haywire for both teams. Stirling appear not to have a recipe and so go for something like George did with his Marvellous Medicine. This means that they have to start again and they have no product to show the "high end grocers" that LordShooga has lined up for them. Instead of taking just the packaging to give some idea of the concept they tried to "sell" based on how they "think" their Chilli Pineapple Chutney will taste when they ever taste it. This is not a good pitch and so no surprise that they don't get an order. As we see from the entrepreneurs pitching their ideas on Crowdcube. A good pitch is visual, clear and answers the critical questions about what it is, who it's for and why they would buy it. Fail!
Tomato sauce production goes well for a while but one batch goes badly wrong "it's boiling like an omelette" was the refrain from the team - "boiling" and "omelette" are two words that should never go together and I fear for the end product on this now. The production team also look like extras in Psycho.
Having far less product than they initially wanted, Katy changes the strategy from selling to mass market at low price to a high end luxury item at a corresponding higher price. Fair play, seems like a sensible idea to me.
Selling goes well for the chutney team. They manage to swing another meeting with the grocers', who put an order in for 300 jars, but selling to the public requires a different banter.
Team Phoenix decide that selling to the public is where they can make their profit and make up for the lack of product. The boys on the sales team at Westfield do a nice job and even Karen is pleased with them, they are engaging and friendly. The retail team go to a deli where Michael refuses an offer which is only a few pence down on Katy's bottom line. He should have climbed down and sold the product for a little less. But we know what they say about hindsight.
Suited and booted and dragging their wheelie suitcases, they arrive back at the boardroom. The Girls team have won outright making £1,028 profit to the boy's £585. Katy's in the boardroom again! I wouldn't want to be in her shoes, but she did work hard in this project and was versatile in her strategy.
The failure of the task is based on the poor production and lack of selling.
Michael is completely slated and can't get a word in edge ways. His defence about not being born with a silver spoon in his mouth is not a good one. This really must be one of the easiest boardroom decisions. Michael You're Fired.
Team Tommy Sauce made it an easy day's work for the chutney chums with a mass market tomato sauce at £3.99 a bottle in a market where niche products have greater success. To compound their problems they created a label straight from Google Images, a corny name with a spelling mistake, and had the hapless Michael in their team. It was such a poor performance that The Chutney Chums could afford to turn up to a product tasting without the product and still take an easy win!