Hairdresser Dani Donavan was determined to be Project Manager this week because she didn’t want to “waste her outfit”. It’s as good a rationale as any of the others gave for wanting to be PM.
The task this week was to create a new kids lunchbox for six to eight-year-olds. She developed a rap-inspired by the character of Larry the Caterpillar with a bite-sized lunchbox and an accompanying app. Little did Dani or even pest-control Mark Moseley realise that she was tapping into a dark and troubled insect history.
Did they not know about the infamous Caterpillar wars where seemingly respectable Colin threatened his high street rival Cuthbert in a bid for party cake dominance? Colin, whose notoriety has given him his own Wikipedia page, lives with the constant threat of being sliced by his rivals Curly the Caterpillar at Tesco, Cecil at Waitrose and Charlie at the Co-op.
As Eric Carle tried to warn us with his Hungry Caterpillar so many years ago, the caterpillar story is one of excess, of biting off more than you can chew and then exploding in an all too brief moment of glory.
Despite this, the retail panel quite liked it. Even if the lunchbox was not even sandwich shaped. Megan Hornby suggested that this was perhaps an opportunity for lunch-makers to get creative. Has she any idea of the nations’ school lunchbox habits? Jamie Oliver has attempted for years to educate us on this, only for parents to protest by squishing chips and crisps through the school gates. If they wanted a mass market winner, a design that was less of a sandwich puzzle piece would have worked better.
On the other team Sohail Chowdhary was right to volunteer as PM because apart from having his belly button plastered in an early episode, so far he’s failed to cement his presence in this competition. However, instead of harnessing the energy of some very capable people in his team, he somehow depleted and misdirected it. He and Bradly were like two batteries inserted at the wrong end. The potential was there but no sparks as they struggled dismally with ideas for how to liven up a plain brown box.
Meanwhile, he demoted Marnie Swindells who then spent her time trying to wrest back control from Rochelle Anthony instead of finishing the task at hand. Sohail’s leadership style was like a wet blanket. His pitch to the panel of retailers was as unhinged as his lunchbox. He tried to pass this brown box off as a prototype and a concept but no-one was convinced, not 7 year old kids, not the retail panel, not his team and not even Sohail.
His second mistake was to bring Marnie back into the boardroom. She has a background as a court advocate, she’s going to be good at defending herself and undermining others. Describing Sohail as having a character flaw, she showed she’ll never pull her punches and is not averse to a few low ones too. Perhaps in a fight using his nimble martial arts skills against her boxer slog energy he might have won, but in a war of words he was a lightweight in comparison.
Sohail seemed a pleasant, thoughtful person who was simply out of his depth on this task and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. He may always lack Marnie’s killer instinct, most people do, but given that he runs a kids martial arts school maybe that’s a good thing.