Alastair Campbell, founder of Company Check, says Lord Sugar had little choice but to fire Dan Callaghan in the series opener of The Apprentice
So it’s begun. In the door with what seemed like a bit of a whimper came the next round of candidates chasing a business deal with Lord Sugar. The best of the candidate introductions must be “I’m the Swiss army knife of business” from Richard. Not a great idea to broadcast that you are an occasionally useful tool.
I’ll be straight with you at this point and admit that I’m a client of Climb Online, the company founded by last year's winner Mark Wright. Working with Mark shows that The Apprentice, in my experience, creates real businesses and hopefully inspires people to go out and build something by themselves. The series has plenty of detractors but it does help drive home the message that with a bit of courage you can take the leap from PAYE to CEO – even if it means being CEO, sales director, head of HR and buying the loo roll.
Lord Sugar started with what must be the candidates’ worst nightmare: Claude Littner replacing Nick Hewer, the sharp but amiable mentor from the last ten series. It will be interesting to see if Littner softens, at least in our perceptions, over the series.
Another first after ten years, Lord Sugar began by mixing the teams and this seems to be a great move, bypassing the pain of previous years where the single sex teams struggled to even choose a team name. Maybe a sign to some FTSE companies that mixed teams are better at getting on with things.
The task was to buy fish at Billingsgate to make lunchtime snacks to sell to office workers. It seems simple but it’s not a task I’d enjoy. First, haggling with people who must be some of the UK’s best negotiators, then having a mass cook in and, to finish, trying to persuade random strangers to buy lunch from a bunch of amateur cooks turned desperate street sellers.
This first task went along familiar lines: a poor decision to buy inferior products because they are cheaper, which always annoys Lord Sugar, and the other team taking the first deal they were offered. With ten previous years of this show to watch, it’s hard to understand why candidates don’t do their homework and avoid the obvious pitfalls.
For me, Connexus got off lightly with Lord Sugar with their salad pricing. While £9 may not be much to a man with a multi-million-pound private jet, I did think he would come down a lot harder on them for the price of this as street food.
Connexus ended up losing with a tiny profit of £1.87, compared to the £200.29 made by Versatile, and headed off to the Bridge Cafe for the usual blame game. As losing PM, April came across as prone to quick and ill thought-out decisions. However, bringing Brett back was genius; he was unable to think on his feet and was adamant he didn’t do anything wrong.
In the end though, it was Dan who was fired. He was weak during the task, self-admittedly awful at sales and didn't stand up for himself. With more emphasis on April’s terrible decisions he could’ve pushed her out but in the end he was weak and Lord Sugar did the right thing and sent him home.