The Apprentice reviewed by a career coach: why Lord Sugar’s verdict on Francesca’s ‘Artic’ gaffe was harsh

Francesca’s team struggle to pitch ‘Artic Saviour’ in The Apprentice (Photo: BBC)Francesca’s team struggle to pitch ‘Artic Saviour’ in The Apprentice (Photo: BBC)
Francesca’s team struggle to pitch ‘Artic Saviour’ in The Apprentice (Photo: BBC) | BBC

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The ‘Artic’ typo was a blunder - but Lord Sugar’s verdict on Francesca was harsh, writes Corinne Mills

We found super-girl Francesca Kennedy Wellbank’s kryptonite this week on The Apprentice – it’s a dictionary.

For all her award-winning talents, her salesmanship and her fishing, a spelling mistake led to her downfall. She forgot the ‘C’ in ‘Artic Saviour’, the online game which was Brittany Carter’s bid to save the polar ice caps through repetitive thumb action.

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Francesca desperately tried to spread the blame. Why had no-one else on the team spotted the error, or if they had, why had they kept quiet?

She was right, they were equally culpable. She’s been an exceptional candidate and Lord Sugar’s verdict that he could no longer see a bright future ahead of her because of a spelling mistake must have sunk the confidence of the many poor spellers and dyslexics out there who otherwise do a great job. After all, it didn’t seem to do much harm to the creator of Fortnite.

Maybe though it wasn’t just the spelling that did it for Francesca. Ruthlessness is encouraged in this show but she was merciless with Sophie Wilding, refusing to let her talk, ganging up on her with the others: she was the ice hunter and Sophie was the baby seal. Not a good look.

As Project Manager for ‘Artic Saviour’ Brittany brought a messianic energy. Her vision was to create a game that would not only entertain simple folk, it would also save the planet. It was to be the best thing featuring icebergs since the Titanic movie, and it certainly went down as well.

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(Photo: BBC)(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC) | BBC

Stephanie Affleck introduced the pitch to the corporate buyers like a menacing Nursery Assistant: “Hello Ian, Mark and Roberta”. She knows their names, she knows where they live and she’s quite prepared to use the naughty chair.

“The concept we’ve come up with is going to disrupt the market,” she said with a ‘I’m going to say a single word at a time so you can get this through your thick skulls’ kind of delivery.

Brittany, who was channelling Greta Thunberg, seemed surprised at the less than positive feedback from the buyers. It wasn’t just the typo in “Artic”. They’d confused the Poles: the animals lived in the Antarctic not the Arctic. Yes, that really would disrupt the market: we’d never find it.

And creating a game where players needed to kill people in order to collect the animals didn’t seem entirely compatible with Brittany’s higher moral purpose. Her dream of world salvation through gaming melted away.

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A good week for Akeem

In contrast, Akeem Bundu-Kamara was a quiet grounded presence as Project Manager. A smart, first class maths student with substantial gaming experience, he had genuine credibility in this task and his whole demeanour was a welcome antidote to the usual Apprentice force-gale blagging.

He listened, enabled everyone to contribute while shaping what he wanted. It was a great idea to allow Kathryn to be her own avatar. As someone who clearly loves the limelight, it made her very happy to see yet another version of herself on screen as she adjusted her virtual cleavage.

Aaron Willis enjoyed using his military moves to direct her. Harpreet Kaur was on free flow with her story ideas and Amy even wrote a whole screenplay as a backstory for when the game extends into a Last of Us cinematic type game-playing experience.

He created a team where everyone could contribute and were given the opportunity to give of their best.

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Harpreet had some wise words this week. Fluffing her pitch, she said “I’m only human”. It’s a useful reminder that all of the candidates are far more rounded than the edited highlights we see, and the scenarios they are dealing with are nothing like real life. It’s not to be taken too seriously.

Corinne Mills is a career coach with Personal Career Management and author of best-selling books on CVs and career change.

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