The boys with their brown wand toothbrush (Photo: BBC)
This week Alan Sugar was more animated than usual, appearing as a menacing Tooth Fairy. The teams’ task was to devise a toothbrush and app for youngsters to help companies digitise every experience and make it as a sales opportunity.
Francesca Kennedy Wallbank, flaunting her anointment to her company’s leadership programme, her maths degree and her work for one of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies, specifically in oral care products and apps, was an obvious and smart choice for Project Manager.
The girls’ product design, branding and the pitch were all excellent. It was interesting to see the girls sub-team bravely ignoring Francesca’s instruction for a plain toothbrush and creating a much better jazzed-up version likely to appeal to all kids. They looked like they could actually work collaboratively and positively together.
Franscesca on the whole had managed to herd the cats on her team with considerable aplomb and relatively little scratchiness. This didn’t stop her making some aggressive pre-emptive digs at her colleagues in the Boardroom but it was a well–deserved win.
Aaron was out of his depth
The boys on the other hand were disastrous. Aaron Willis, flight operations instructor, ex RAF and self-described jack of all trades, had zilch experience of anything to do with this task but managed to convince the others to let him be Project Manager.
Perhaps it was his ex-military background that impressed the others, the natural authority and can-do attitude that so many ex-service members exude, but he was completely out of his depth.
He insisted that his wizardy theme meant the toothbrush had to be brown because all wands are brown, apparently. To be fair to his team, they gave him what he wanted as the toothbrush definitely looked like something that Harry Potter might have left behind in the bathroom at Hogwarts.
His other decree was that it should be gender-neutral to appeal to everyone. Ex-rugby player Connor couldn’t quite get his head around this idea. Nah! Too difficult. Let’s have a boy wizard instead.
Cue a deep sigh from more than half the population witnessing the male default in action. Perhaps this is what happened when the US astronaut Anne McClain had to abandon her planned spacewalk because none of the spacesuits fitted because they were all designed for men. Females? Nah too difficult.
Creative accounting from Nick
Finance Manager Nick Showering was more imaginative. Although the boys’ product was overwhelmingly rejected by his focus group of savvy and articulate kids, Nick creatively turned this into a 50% success rate.
By his logic one boy had said the toothbrush was cool and as boys were now the target market and there were two boys in the group of five, this meant that 50% actively wanted to buy it. None of it added up and literally no-one was buying it!
Predictably the boys’ pitch was a disaster and their poor choices exposed in the Boardroom.
Arran was mostly responsible for the debacle, but Connor ended up going home.
In a pre-pandemic series, if Lord Sugar had fired all three of them it wouldn’t have been surprising. However, with mutant variants afoot, perhaps they’re keeping the extra bodies just in case.
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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