The OPPrentice: double discount, double firing

Posted 24 May 2012 by

With only five weeks left to go (and seven candidates left) on Lord Sugar’s search for a business partner, the would-be apprentices sourced and negotiated online deals on behalf of an internet discount company that specialised in luxury experiences. The aim was to get as many deals as possible that would be attractive to outgoing, bargain-hunting Londoners who enjoy the high life.

Last week, Stephen just about managed to save his own skin by persuading Lord Sugar to let him lead this week’s task. MBTI type dynamics may help us explain how his downfall in more recent weeks came about.

If we assume that Stephen’s MBTI personality preference is Extraverted Thinking, this would suggest that under normal circumstances, he would be calm, make logical decisions and articulate these clearly, drawing on his influencing skills. This was evidenced in earlier episodes. However under pressure, we can fall into the ‘grip’ of our inferior function, which in Stephen’s case would be Introverted Feeling, using it in an ill-developed, unhealthy way. Stephen became hypersensitive to internal feelings, confessing to Ricky that he was feeling the pressure (and constantly repeating “bloody hell”!). He became very agitated in the car on the way to submit the team’s deals, fidgeting about and venting his frustration at the army of red traffic lights that had come out purely to bedevil his plans and prevent him from travelling magically through time to meet the deadline.

In the meantime, Ricky chillaxed by devouring expensive but apparently ubiquitous scallops. Though he made deals with suppliers, he allowed himself to be sidetracked by a pompous restaurateur, missed a separate opportunity to ask for more seats, and settled for a barely satisfactory compromise deal, resulting in a disproportionate amount of eyebrow gymnastics on his face when he was grilled in the Boardroom. However, although Ricky appears to share an Extraverted Thinking personality with Stephen, his ability to flex his style, cope with pressure and learn from his mistakes means he is quite a different (and less jabbering) beast.

In a double whammy firing, giggly Gabby also faced a ruthless culling by Lord Sugar. She missed the point of the task, as she went for deals that were certainly not top end. It seems that London’s poseurs wouldn’t be seen dead having their feet nibbled at by hungry little whitebaits or playing a fake game of golf in a dingy, curtained arcade. Compared to the rest of the candidates, she lacked insight, and didn’t really flex her style (we’d speculate at Introverted Feeling or Extraverted iNtuition), making her seem two-dimensional – just a “nice girl”. Even when she was fired, she continued to smile, giving the impression of relief – either that or it was a defence mechanism for dealing with the upset. Anyhow, if all else fails she could think about a career in modelling her stunning, large teeth.

In relation to negotiation skills, Stephen had a clever strategy, which was to negotiate multiple deals with suppliers, but the choice of products did not match the requirements of the company that they were representing. In contrast, Jade’s strategy was to focus on fewer deals, but those which matched the client’s spec. Jade and Nick were able to bag a great deal and negotiated effectively, particularly with a luxury spa provider, by preparing well, having a clear objective and showing the desire to represent the supplier. Unfortunately, these negotiation skills were not replicated in a cringe-worthy meeting with a top chef and restaurateur, who accused them of not coming to the table with intelligence. Still, they did a deal from him in the end.

With only a few weeks to go, who will be able to handle to pressure of the forthcoming tasks? With few candidates, there’s little space to hide from Nick and Susan’s glaring scrutiny. To escape the famous words “You’re fired” from the mouth of He Who Must Not Be Named, the remaining candidate must show stamina to demonstrate that they have genuine potential. As much as being about pulling out all the stops, this will come down to being a rounded individual. The results so far show that those who default unbendingly to their natural style don’t do well – the self-styled “Rottweilers”, or yappy Jack Russell Stephen. So I’m willing to punt that next week, intractable Jade might be the next to fall off fortune’s wheel.

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