As a team, we have analysed The Apprentice UK; series 5; episode 2. The Apprentice UK is a reality television series which offers fifteen aspiring business professionals the opportunity to become the trainee of successful entrepreneur Lord Alan Sugar. To qualify for this position and in order to survive elimination in the boardroom, the candidates have to execute several tasks and strive for the highest profit margins in one of the two teams. In this series, team Empire and team Ignite are trying to outperform one another. The teams are divided solely based on the gender of the contestants in this episode. For the analysis, we focused on team Empire.
In the analysed episode, ‘A Hungry Business’, the teams have to set up a catering service to clients who are to be decided and to cater at a corporate evening event. The working environment is highly competitive and the time constraints is immense, within a period of two days the teams have to compose their menus, obtain the relevant ingredients, pitch their catering service to potential clients, supply the desired products to their clients and host and cater at the evening event.
Our initial impressions of the team were positive. All of us shared the opinion that under the command of experienced project manager Rocky Andrews team Empire would flourish. The differences between our individual analyses are mainly reflected in the analysis of the personalities of the contestants. As to the manner of communication, motivation and other differences on a personal level our answers were similar. Therefore we focus on the analysis of the personalities.
In order to fully understand the analyses it is important to acknowledge that ‘openness to experience’ reflects the contribution of the candidates during the assignment, ‘emotional stability’ is self-explanatory, ‘conscientiousness’ resembles the awareness regarding the impact of personal actions, ‘agreeableness’ is self-explanatory and ‘extraversion’ indicates whether the person is introverted or extraverted. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is also self-explanatory. These assessments are personal interpretations of the analyst based on the actions, facial expressions and statements of/by the candidates. Besides the analysis of the personalities we also state our most remarkable observations.
As a team and as individual analysts, we did not observe any forms of prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination. Since the candidates strive for the accomplishment of a common goal there is, in our point of view, mutual dependence within team Empire. The diversity in the team is overcome by this mutual dependence. In other words, the candidates overcome their prejudice and displeasure for cultural values and habits of fellow team members since the outcome of the assignment is depending on the contribution of each individual team member. The conflicts that do arise are due to the differences in communicational styles and disagreement about how to accomplish the common goal.
On the other hand, we observed a certain form of prejudice within team Empire. Initially all the members believe that Rocky Andrews is highly suitable for the role as project manager for this assignment due to his experience as a owner of a sandwich chain in the north of England. One can claim that this is a form of prejudice since the members of team Empire judged Rocky Andrews too soon or too highly, since he was later proven to be an inefficient project manager.
Strengths and weaknesses
Team Empire attempts to create a unique selling point by having a distinct and consistent theme. The Olympics theme is portrayed through the various dishes presented in the menu and through the costumes and decorations for the setting of the corporate evening event. This consistent theme is the main strength of the team and is the outcome of the combined creativity of the team members.
However, one of the weaknesses is a direct result of the Olympic theme. Team Empire did not foresee the additional cost of the props for the Olympic theme. This proved to be a major weakness of the team since this lead to the failure of setting realistic goals and expectations. The profitability of team Empire was also influenced negatively due to the relative expensive props for the Olympic theme.
Additionally, we believe the above stated is an example of poor communication and decision making since not enough thought was put into their ideas. Initially none of the team members looked at the plans from the perspective of the clients in terms of what clients would think of waiters dressed in togas, the presentation of the food and the inexpensive appearance and incoherence of the props.
Once some of the members of team Empire realise the flaws and improprieties of their plans, they either; suppress their concerns, lack in persuasiveness to convince others of their opinions and concerns or are being ignored by their fellow members and/or project manager, another illustration of the inadequate level of communication within team Empire.
These problems resulted in a downward spiral of morality and motivation. Along with the already low motivation of some members from the start on, the atmosphere in team Empire became unpleasantly. This resulted in heated discussions in the boardroom.
Finally, team Empire lacked leadership to maintain a high morality and improve the communication and decision making. Initially, especially during the brainstorm session, there was little to no hierarchy. This resulted in uncontrollable situation and influenced the communication and ultimately the decision making.
However, as the assignment progresses the project manager centralizes the decision making. One can say that the project manager abuses his role. On the other hand one can also claim that the members of team Empire rely solely on the experience of the project manager. However, once the members of team Empire realise the imperfections and improprieties of their plan, they are unable to improve the situation and neither can they influence the project manager who abides the initial plan.
The image below illustrates a representation of the factors that influenced the performance of team Empire.
Besides the above illustrated problem causing factors, the high costs of the Olympic theme can also be considered as a factor in the failure of team Empire.
However, as a team we share the opinion that the poor communication in team Empire is the main factor responsible for the failure. Since, based on the above shown image, poor communication negatively influences all other factors.Our intervention strategy
· Decisions are the outcome of discussions which are led by the project manager, which is responsible for the compliance of the following rules;
o Candidates may not prevent each other from expressing their opinions
o When candidates express their opinion they are obliged to defend their points of view when asked so
o When a candidate cannot defend their view, he is obliged to withdraw his standpoint
o When a candidate adequately defends his standpoint other candidates are obliged to withdraw their doubt regarding that standpoint
· At predetermined times or when it is necessary, the progress is evaluated in the forms of a discussion with compliance to rules that are stated above