We chose an episode of the ‘The Apprentice’ and to be more specific it was the British version of the show (it was the sixth episode of the fifth series). There were two competing groups, but we focused on the losing team. The objective of the show is to win a job as an apprentice of Lord Sugar. The objective of each episode is to complete the group task better than the other team, so that you’re not up for eviction. The task in this episode is that both the teams get 10 random items. They have to valuate these products and then sell them for as much as possible. The items they sell above their worth, lead to profit. The items they sell below their worth lead to loss. In this show the environment is very businesslike. You get a task and you have to complete it as efficient and professional as possible. ‘Our’ team consists of 5 members: the cocky, but very young Ben, the quiet and indecisive Noorul, the fierce and a bit lazy Yasmine, the ambitious (maybe too much) Debra and funnyman James.
Our impressions are quite similar. We seem to value the different personalities the same. Every team member got the same feelings about the characteristics of the different participants of the show. For Example everyone felt that Debra was too ambitious and that made her just plain rude. We differ more about how the team worked. The team was split up in two little team. Yasmine and James took 3 items and Debra, Ben and Noorul the remaining seven. This was too much for them three so they asked the other team the help them, but the Yasmine and James declined. They didn’t want to mess up the original planning. One half of us agreed with this, the other half thought that they should have helped their team members.
My teammates used the first few seconds that each member was shown. Focusing on the way they interact with group member, way of portraying ideas, suggestions, criticism etc. to lay an opinion.
The groups were very diverse, which essentially could provide a situation for prejudice and discrimination to occur.
Throughout the episode, very direct and clear prejudice and discrimination was not present within the group members. However, at certain times in the episode evidence of gender discrimination was present. When the team leader would constantly disregard one of his team’s member opinions about the valuation of one of the items. By rudely disregarding the female’s opinion frustration and tension became present between the members. That leads to poor performance by one of the group members, which harmed the group as a whole.
There are two main strengths regarding these two teams. The first one is about authority. Indeed, each member respects the choices and decisions of their respective leaders, which makes the task easier. Also, the team is motivated by the same goals: they all really want to win, and fear the fact of being fired.
However, some weaknesses are remarkable. First, there is a rather big problem of communication between the members and the leader of the group. This problem has lead to some mistakes in valuing the several items, and it made the success more difficult. Finally, the leaders sometimes made a few mistakes in managing the group; for example, he did not split the tasks well between the team members, which made the task quite difficult to achieve for some of the members.
The biggest problem of the team is that the leaders did not listen enough their teams, so he did not really gathered the opinion of each group member. This also leads to a problem of valuing the items. Ben misinterpreted the challenge completely at the end. He tried to sell every item, not every item for the price it’s worth. So they ended up selling items for one pound, just to get rid of it. This lead to a huge loss, because you didn’t have to sell all the products. You just had to sell some products at the right price.
Concrete solutions and advice will be difficult to contract due to the fact that we were not shown everything that had happened during the day the teams had to complete their task (due to edits of the episode to fit the time limit). Therefore the following suggestions are made solely upon the footage we were shown in the episode.
- The team should spend more time planning each task and them way it should be completed before each member begins to work on the task. By spending more time, each of the group members will be able to understand exactly what and how he or she must complete.
- More effective communication within the group members should be made. Due to the fact that some group members were only aware of their own task. Therefore they were not aware of the fact that the other group had a lot more items to sell, and were under pressure that those members could have aided them with. This caused arguments and tension within the group, since the group who had more items to sell were expecting the other group (that had only three items to sell) to sell the items quickly and come for help.
- Attempt to focus the group members to share the current goal (to make a profit of the items by judging their value and charging more), rather than their final goal, which is winning the whole competition. That will increase motivation and team work.
We believe that the most important strategy that we could advice the group from the episode is attempting to focus the group’ members on the current goal (winning the task). If this is successful then the group will naturally work better with each other, which can increase the productivity of the team. In addition this will also come into contact with the other suggestions that we have come up with.