The Apprentice – Season 4 – Week 5

November 1st, 2011

‘Light Savings’

I’m worried! This task left me scratching my head and wondering how on earth will Bill pick a business partner from this lot? They were asked to devise an innovative campaign to encourage people to save energy and the results were a disaster. The winning team, project managed by a lack lustre Brian, won as they were not as bad as the losing team, not exactly a win to be proud of!

Conor project managed the losing team. This guy will not be told. He goes on and on about being the youngest candidate ever on the show and how much he has to learn but he refuses to listen to anyone including Bill. Eugene commented that it is obvious Conor normally works on his own as he is not a team player. He is bordering on being arrogant and this will not get him very far with a fledgling business.

We saw two very different styles of presentation and Eugene performed again, he really is excellent at creating an event, such a pity the end result didn’t live up to the presentation. Ultimately the billboard they designed was cluttered and confusing and despite Louise pointing this out time and time again her comments fell on deaf ears.

Louise ended up in the board room with Eugene and Conor. Throughout the tasks she has come across as negative and lazy and as a result she has alienated herself from her colleagues. A lot of her points actually made sense but her delivery style meant that nobody listened to her. Failing to get buy in from your team in a business environment is damaging to any career and she paid the ultimate price. Louise wants to set up a staff training consultancy, this is already a saturated market and I don’t think she has the skills to stand out from the crowd but I wish her well.

Conor had a lucky escape and for once I hope he listened to the advice Bill gave him and takes it on board.

The low points were easy to pick out this week – poor design, weak leadership and personal feelings interfering with making sensible business decisions. I am still looking for the high points sadly!

Mairead Fleming

The Apprentice – Season 4 – Week 4

October 25th, 2011

‘Show and Sell’

This was a fun task where the teams were asked by Bank of Ireland to showcase local producers through an event at two of their branches. The winning team would be the one with the most sales and the best event. At this stage we are still getting to know the candidates and by volunteering to be PM is a way to get on the radar. Both Noel and Claire felt they were ready to take on the challenge and put themselves forward.

What a contrast we saw in leadership styles – Noel was direct and knew what he wanted but Claire wanted to please everyone and be their friend. The sub PMs are a big feature this year and this week it was the turn of Suzanne and Eugene. Eugene at least is making an impression, both good and bad (his planning was dreadful but he organised a great event) but Suzanne is not making her mark and this was her opportunity to make an impact but she failed to deliver. She said she only speaks when she has something useful to say, but the fact that she has had nothing to say for four weeks leaves me wondering what value she would add in any business environment?!

By failing to organise any event of note Claire’s team lost. After playing the martyr and showing a huge amount of indecision she eventually decided to bring Chris and Suzanne back in to the board room with her. This was the third time for Chris,and he surely must be using up his ‘get out of jail free’ cards?!

Claire’s lack of clear leadership and her need to please everyone all of the time was her ultimate downfall. She failed to impress. In addition, her business idea of running an etiquette school in this economy wasn’t exactly inspiring and as with last week’s fired candidate I am sure Bill felt he had a lucky escape!

I really hope we start to see some good business practice coming in to play over the next few weeks, the clock is ticking and we need leaders to emerge for it to get really interesting!

Mairead Fleming

The Apprentice – Season 4 – Week 3

October 18th, 2011

‘Appy Christmas’

The task this week was to develop an ‘interesting and fun’ App for Unislim. Bill mixed the teams up and picked the Project Managers and that’s where it all went horribly wrong! When Eoin was chosen as Project Manager for Zest I was fearful but tried not to second guess what was coming down the track but I knew it would not be pleasant! Louise has failed to impress so far so this was her chance to shine!

The teams failed on many levels and yet again they didn’t follow the brief. Both teams missed key elements and the fun aspect they were asked to include was not even discussed. They also missed out on a whole segment of the target market with their exclusion of males.

Eoin was probably one of the worst PMs we have seen in the history of the programme and he obviously realised this himself so instead of standing up to be counted he bolted! What a chicken! He clearly had no regard for the feelings of his colleagues and the implications his actions would cause. Things don’t always go smoothly in business but what makes us stronger is facing up to the mistakes we make, learning from them and moving on but instead Eoin buried his head in the sand and left everyone high and dry.

The drama was compounded further for Team Zest when Ruth decided to go on her own crusade and disagree with them in front of the client – shocking behaviour and as Bill rightly said you should never let your client see any baggage. Ruth may have felt she was fired because of a ‘slip of the tongue’ but the facts were that she showed total disregard for her team and that is a cardinal sin in business and she paid the ultimate price.

The bickering in Team Spirit between Chris and Louise entertained us but yet again we saw personal feelings getting in the way of clear thinking and objectivity!

There were very few impressive moments in this episode so thank god for Eugene who continued to speak sense, to Joanne for her focus and to Sandra who had to step in and take the flack without grumbling about it.

Mairead Fleming

The Apprentice – Season 4 – Week 2

October 11th, 2011

‘Extra! Extra!’

Entertaining it may have been but inspiring it certainly wasn’t! To be fair it was a huge task and the candidates were required to show creativity and commercial judgement – we saw spurts of creativity which included Eugene’s inspired name – ‘Backstage Pass’ and Joanne’s design which certainly caught the eye but sadly that was as good as it got. Experience won over youth again and ‘Toe Tapping Talent’ really had the cringe factor!! What amazed me most was that Suzanne, who came up with the name, disappeared never to be seen or heard of again – what was that all about? Surely she should have been held accountable?

We saw two distinct leadership styles, Chris led like a headless chicken and wouldn’t be told, whilst Joanne was decisive and inclusive. I was absolutely amazed though that Joanne, who is a professional marketeer, left out the logo and got the client’s name wrong! Has she never seen the show before, this comes up year after year and apart from anything else it’s simple common sense!

Some may argue that Yinka shouldn’t have been fired, but quite frankly when I heard what her business plan was at the top of the programme for me her time was numbered and she would never be a winner. Her idea was to grow her hair extension business in a very niche market – does she know Bill Cullen at all? Firstly how long would it take Bill to get a return on his investment of €200,000 – a hell of a long time selling hair extensions, and secondly there is absolutely no synergy with any of his current businesses at all so this was certainly not a good fit.

We are beginning to see the personalities coming through which is always fascinating at this early stage – Eoin is strange, Conor is a know-it-all and Chris is entertaining for all the wrong reasons! Maurice is showing both good and bad traits and Eugene seems quietly determined. I am looking forward to getting to know them all better over the coming weeks, but at this stage I am fearful as some of the business plans we have been hearing about have me very concerned. But perhaps when we hear about the business plans in more detail I will be pleasantly surprised – somehow I doubt it, but I can live in hope!!

Mairead Fleming

The Apprentice – Season 4 – Week 1

October 4th, 2011


It’s back, and we are back again with The Apprentice as their Recruitment Partner. I am taking the first few weeks off ‘You’re Fired’ this year’ as I quite like the idea of sitting back and observing how the candidates perform but have no fear I will return from Episode 5!

The format has changed this year and Bill is picking a business partner. I liked how he changed the teams and split them between youth and maturity and the ‘Hard Sell’ task is always amusing and it certainly left me asking are these really the best entrepreneurs in Ireland?!! Only time will tell I guess!

Having watched the show for three years, the candidates must know by now not to volunteer to be PM for the first task as the losing one is guaranteed to be fired. They are delusional if they think they will be the first PM to escape so for that reason alone Aisling deserved to go. She actually came across as a really likeable person but she was far too nice and wanted everyone to like her. Of course we all want to be liked, but in business being liked doesn’t necessarily get things done. She really needed to be much braver, more focussed and a lot tougher on her team. They had no plan. When she failed to read the brief I knew her time was limited!

The winning team were marginally better but for me there were no shining stars in the first episode. With everyone trying to be heard it’s easier to pick out the weak links at this early stage so hopefully the talent will come through over the coming weeks. Conor seemed to have a good rapport with Bill but Chris alienated himself and didn’t do himself any favours at all.

Hopefully they will all take the key learning points from Episode One and build on them going forward – read the brief, manage your time and plan! Not rocket science but basic business principles!!

I look forward to watching them grow and blossom (and some will crash and burn!) over the coming weeks!

Mairead Fleming

More Reasons to Be Cheerful

March 22nd, 2011

I give speeches and courses on all matters to do with careers and employment, and most people have been surprised by the data I provide and the advice that I give… because I’m very positive about Ireland and the future of the country.  Ireland has faced things in the last few years that only a few other developed countries have faced. We have not been helped by policy, or an almost comically negative media. However, our biggest asset remains, and that is the Irish people who have shown courage and determination to win through.  Whatever the ups and downs, in the long run, it all boils down to people and we will not be beaten.

The economy has faced incredible challenges and the debt burden will remain for the foreseeable future. What we have to do is understand and accept that a national debt is here to stay.  No country ever fully repays a national debt, what happens is the debt is managed.  First, we have to get it to a sensible level – and the next 3 years will be a challenge, but then, as the economy grows and inflation occurs, the debt of x billion does not appear so large e.g. your €100,000 mortgage taken out in 1980 is massive, but the same €100,000 mortgage by 2000 is small and manageable.

There are some particularly difficult sectors, but most are now doing fine. In most of the country, property prices have stabilised and this will continue so that some people will be brave enough to buy again and will make good money (have you tried finding a decent property let in Dublin or Cork recently)?! But let’s not get carried away by illusion again, barring the odd test case, there’s no such thing as ‘easy money’ and there never was. Anyone who is successful has to work very hard, and they always did.

The Construction industry is in trouble and there are quality people unable to find work.  However, in almost no other fields is this the case.  There has been a massive pick-up in IT, Accountancy, Pharmaceuticals, Insurance, Supply Chain – even Legal, Human Resources, Retail and Banking have seen a pick-up.  The facts are that the Live Register increased by only 13,000 last year and emigration is expected to be 50,000 to April 2011 (70,000 to April 2010).  Much better than expected and no doubt the next 12 months will be better again. The last quarter of 2010 saw growth in professional employment, so that any employer of white-collar staff is in the same boat as their international counter parts… they face a skills shortage.

Irish business people recognise opportunity and in a very recent survey by Grant Thornton (conducted worldwide), just 21% of Irish businesses are optimistic about the Irish economy, but 73% expect their own businesses to increase, or stay the same in 2011!  In other words, there is a big discrepancy between what people are seeing in the own businesses as how they perceive the whole and this is a nonsense.  If 73% of businesses do the same or better in 2011, then it will be a good year for Ireland Inc!  Indeed, the business confidence index increased to + 13 in Q4 2011 which is best for almost 3 years.

Salaries and remuneration have gone down in Ireland over the last 3 years, but the amount has varied incredibly.  Some companies and sectors have continued to give pay rises – like IT and pharmaceuticals, but most others have taken a pay drop.  The overall drop is about 5%, so while Ireland has dropped 5%, the outside world has risen about 5% giving us a 10% competitive advantage.  What this means is that Irish salaries are now only 20% higher than the cheapest Europeans in NI and Poland, and 20% cheaper than the more expensive Europeans like the English and Benelux.  In some areas, like Legal, a recently qualified solicitor in Dublin will be paid up to €40,000 where in London they can get up to €50,000.  I think Ireland is set about right now, but with salaries expected to rise by only 0.4% in Ireland in 2011 versus over 2% in Europe as a whole, we’re going to need to start paying again soon lest we lose our top talent, which so far has remained in Ireland.

Where everyone was once flooding into Construction and Engineering, they’re now flooding into IT.  The way to address most trends is counter-cyclical.  For example, in the 1990’s with the dot com everyone wanted into IT, then after the dot com collapse in 2000 people moved into other areas… so that by 2009 when thousands in Ireland were losing their jobs, it was reckoned there were consistently over 7,000 unfilled IT vacancies in Ireland.  When I advise a young person what they should study at University, I’m happy to advise things like construction, legal, finance and banking because by the time that young solicitor qualifies, Ireland will be booming again and there will be a dearth of recently qualified solicitors and that young solicitor will be in very high demand!  The only sectors that I would never bet against would be pharmaceuticals (people always get sick), food (people always eat) and IT.  IT is simply going up and up because every country, sector, company et al are ever increasingly using IT.  My only worry with IT is that it evolves so quickly, so that unless you are ready and able to keep up with the rapid changes you can be left behind, and younger people are usually more adept at change than older people.

I would bet my future on Ireland! I read the International Herald Tribune, Wall Street journal and Financial Times and it is interesting to note how differently they view Ireland from afar than we do up front.  They talk about a fundamentally strong economy that has just suffered a housing bubble collapse… leading to banking and national debt.  They differ Ireland’s economy from Portugal, Greece and Spain who have fundamentally weak economies.  Here are a few reminders of the reasons they have confidence in Ireland’s future:

- Number of companies investing in Ireland for the first time up 20% in 2010.

- 9 of the world’s top 10 software companies have substantial operations in Ireland.

- World’s No.1 provider of employable graduates (EU commission study Nov 2009).

- 1st for FDI and Corporate Tax regime (2009 Global Innovation Survey).

- 1st for investment incentives (IMD 2010).

- 1st for immigration laws that allow companies to employ international skilled labour.

- 1st in Eurozone countries for doing business (Forbes 2010).

-  2nd most globalised economy (EIU / E&Y 2011).

- Plus we have great people… young, well-educated, flexible, multi-lingual and growing.

- One of the most attractive corporate tax and R&D investment rates.

- A pro business environment – for example our employment laws remain flexibly balanced between employer and employee and this remains a massive incentive for US companies who worry about the labour laws in most of Europe.

- English speaking and part of the euro-zone.

Reasons to Be Cheerful

February 14th, 2011

There are so many ways to write an article and having written so many things that I am proud of, I didn’t want to write another blog that just became more ‘noise’.  Below is some ‘noise’ and then some common sense analysis.

According to forecasters at the Centre of Economics and Business Research, the Republic is set for a second ‘Celtic Tiger’ phase of export-led economic growth which will wipe out its deficit by 2013.  In their opinion the Republic will reap the benefits of lower wages and a boost to exports from a weaker euro and stronger growth in Europe.

According to Ernst & Young however, the Republic of Ireland will show to have contracted by 1.5% in 2010 and will shrink a further 2.3% in 2011… before growth of 2.5% from 2012.

Who do you believe?  Well, this is the key question that will affect the future of the country…

A friend sent me a snippet from the Daily Mail in England (extra significant because he knows that I do not like the Daily Mail and its sensationalist manner).  It said about UK GDP figures: “Yes, the provisional growth figures were an unpleasant surprise.  But was the 0.5% drop in output, during the icy last quarter of 2010 really reason enough to convince most voters in the latest poll that we’re plunging back into recession?  Of course, the pessimists may be proved right.  But shouldn’t we at least draw encouragement from yesterday’s figures, showing the fastest rise in manufacturing since records began in 1992?  To a remarkable extent, economic performance depends on confidence.  And talking down the economy (which of course is Ed Balls’s game) helps no one”.

This same friend is a Liverpool fan and over the last 10 years I have watched as he has, on occasion wanted the team to lose so that the Manager (Houllier and later Hodgson) would be removed.

What’s going on? What do the above have in common?  Well it’s all about being a supporter.

The Daily Mail is a supporter of the Tory party and so wants the economy to do well and thence its team (Tory party) to win.  Can you imagine what the Daily Mail would have written had the UK economy still been under Gordon Brown’s stewardship?

Back to Ireland and the election.  Who do I want to win?  I want to win whoever the media wants to win!   You see, the media has been pretty positive over the last few weeks, with lots to feel good about… until today!  What changed?  Why the avalanche of doom in the papers? Well, Enda Kenny didn’t show for the Vincent Browne debate (tied to RTE me thinks)! And Michael Martin out-debated Eamonn Gilmore and I guess the Irish Independent was worried that Fianna Fail might do the unthinkable and sneak through at the final hurdle!  I hope not… because I hope that whoever the media wants to win, wins… and wins big!  Bring on the positive headlines… give me more and more positivity.  I can never have too much (not after the last 3 years).  Make us feel good, positive and ready to spend our money and lead an export and import, consumer-led boom!

No article from me would be complete without some good news.  Below are a few highlights so far, from 2011:

*Trade volumes up 6.1% at Dublin Port and 8.6% in Cork

*Ireland’s GDP to grow 1.8% in 2011 – IBEC

*International funds based in Ireland up 29% in 2010 to €963bn

*Six of the top 10 funds launched in 2010 were based in Ireland

*Tax receipts rise 1.9% in January

*Ireland services PMI index rises to 53.9 in January

*Irish exports surge to record highs of €161bn in 2010

*Hotel occupancy up 2.9% in 2010

*Confidence edges upward

*Trade surplus hits €4bn

*EMC says Irish future bright

*Ireland ranked as 2nd Most Globalised Economy in the World

*World trade growth almost 5% in 2010 and Merrill’s predict same in 2011

*IDA secures 47 new companies in Ireland in 2010

*Dozens of new employment announcements, culminating in January figures revealing the largest fall in unemployment in a month, since 1967.

*And finally… Brightwater recruitment announces a 40% rise in 2010 Net Sales and staff numbers (you see, a positive attitude really does help)!

Week 13 – You’re Hired!

December 22nd, 2010

The Show
There’s so much to say about 2 excellent candidates, an excellent show, great teams that supported the PM’s, but I’m going to make some bullet points, because what actually struck me more this week, was the contrast with the English version… but I’ll come to that later:

- Fusion and Elev8 Teams worked better when supporting the Leaders, instead of competing with them.

- Clearly the 2 outstanding candidates reached the final.

- I met all the candidates at the after show party and Michelle was radiant. Many of the others were in fine form, but not all. Some were still struggling to carve a niche as their fame hadn’t transmitted into fortunes!

- I was shocked to see Tara picked first by Michelle and Panos last. I’m a little concerned by Michelle’s judgement… or else working together Michelle saw things that we don’t pick up on on TV.

- Barry looked deflated. A natural entrepreneur, I’m sure his phoenix will rise again and like many (near) bankrupt entrepreneurs, he will be bigger and better next time.

- Having a 3rd day to do the task changed the entire dynamic. It meant the teams could do a much better job. I’ve always found that you work on something, sleep on it, and often the next day everything is clearer. When you have to present day 2, that means you don’t have sufficient time to make alterations because when you wake up, you know you will be presenting a completed project in 8 hours! Perhaps they might consider a few 3 day projects next time?

- I’m not sure who really won the last task. I felt Michelle’s products were easier to sell and her stands worked well. However, there is no doubt that Niamh’s presentation was better. She was eloquent, intelligent, convincing… classy in every regard.

- We had an exact 50-50 split in our office on who should get the job, but Bill finally decided on Michelle. There were very many things to consider, but I suspect that when push came to shove, Bill chose Michelle because she was somewhat flawed and Bill, like many of us, have a soft spot for people with a few flaws (like Steve Raynor last year).

Now for what I really took out of last week… the differences between the UK and Irish versions:

- I felt Alan Sugar and his team were stronger than Bill and his team, but I like Bill’s team much better.

- I felt the UK interviewers were vile. Our job as Apprentice interviewers is to push people, but Lord Sugar’s Team were generally rude and ignorant – aiming to undermine and insult, rather than understand. I believe the Irish interviewers were much better in all ways… and a lot more professional (yes, I know I was one, but it’s still what I think).

- I thought the UK candidates were weaker than the Irish ones.

- My overall impression in Ireland is of people who have the same tasks and goals as their UK counterparts, but pursue those goals in a different way. Personally, I left all my contacts in England to set up Brightwater from scratch in Ireland because I preferred the people and the way people do business. I don’t like the arrogance or the ‘big, I am’ you get in England and while it made building Brightwater more difficult, I never regretted my decision (though the recession made me wonder)! I’m delighted to have watched the UK Apprentice as it reminded me exactly why I’m in Ireland and never want to work in England again!

Finally for this year, well done to everyone involved in The Apprentice. I will really miss watching it. A friend has gone and however tough Bill, or even Anton Savage are in the You’re Fired Show, you couldn’t help both liking and respecting them. I look forward to next year and hope Michelle has a brilliant time… and if she’s in any way as good as Steve Raynor has been in Bill’s organisation, then Bill will have just hired another star!

Week 12 – The Interviews!

December 7th, 2010

The Show
Personally, the interview task has always been my favourite bit of The Apprentice. I’m a people person & people watcher and the interview section ticks all the boxes for me. However, it is important to note three things: 1. This is not an ‘interview’ it is a ‘task’ 2. It’s television and the usual rules don’t apply and 3. After 4 hours of interviews (I met each candidate for an hour each) x 4 interviewers (16 hours of filming) you get to see about 15 minutes.

Instantly likable, trustworthy and nonjudgmental – it was nice to interview Will first. However, the moment he opened his mouth it all went wrong. Will is not eloquent, confident or strong. He is simply a lovely guy who is loyal, hard working, optimistic and not over smart. You may have noticed that not much was revealed of Will during the show and I suspect that was for two reasons: 1. There wasn’t much to reveal. Will left home to work and help support his family after his father had an accident. He went into sales with Bank of Scotland before they pulled out of Ireland and was made redundant. 2. I suspect all the interviewers went easy on Will. I know I did. I just didn’t think he could cope with a grilling and I just didn’t want to subject him to that (whatever the TV show may have wanted). I think Will is going to make a great husband, father and employee one day. Giving his all to everyone and everything. You can’t help but wish him well, but he was not a patch on the three to follow in terms of a €100,000 a year job as Bill’s Apprentice.

I thought she was excellent from the get-go. Confident, sensitive, determined and able. She had the experience to cope with the questions, able to speak fluently and logically. We even had a couple of moments of laughing out loud because she tuned into me, and while my job as interviewer is to analyze, I’m experienced enough to understand that Michelle was working me, and working me well. Again, I could have been tougher with Michelle, but I didn’t see any reason to. She was open & honest with pain and pleasure openly expressed. I thought she was excellent apart from two things: 1. I think she lacks a tiny bit of intelligence in an IQ sense (intelligence quotient average)…, but her EQ (emotional quotient is high) and 2. I think her need to excel is dissipating. I don’t see Michelle doing much in 5 years and I wouldn’t be surprised if her successful career peters out in two years. I think she applied for the challenge of The Apprentice as a way of reinvigorating herself and her career, but once the fire begins to dim, you can keep it alight for only so much longer…

Michelle has fought for herself for many years, so during the interview when I pushed her, she fought back, but when I lulled her, she shared her dreams with me. Good dreams, but no longer dreams of being the next big thing! In short, Michelle came / escaped to Ireland at 17 to get away from her family who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. She felt they were strangling her because she didn’t share their beliefs. She didn’t tell her folks, she just left as she didn’t have the heart to tell them because Witnesses or not, they loved her. This told me much, including that she was sensitive, determined and also brave… yes brave. There are different types of bravery and we all have complicated psychologies and while she showed bravery in running away, she also showed cowardliness in not being able to stand up to her parents. She is capable of being bullied and if bullied, will shrink. However, given the right environment Michelle can be strong and that is the Michelle that I recommended for the final two – because Bill is a strong man and no doubt a strong boss, but not a bully.

Came in, looked me in the eyes and shook hands confidently. Frankly, I thought she was excellent! I didn’t take to her as much as Michelle, because there is something endearing about fallible people like Michelle, but I liked her and was impressed. Highly intelligent, I tried to push Niamh, but she dealt with everything I threw at her, and easily. It wasn’t just that she answered my questions intelligently, she had genuinely considered everything. She knew exactly who she was and was confident in her ability to cope with anything thrown at her. She knew she wasn’t perfect or the finished article, but that she was already good and going to get better.

Niamh has a 2.1 degree in Business studies with a Major in Marketing, followed by one year’s experience in marketing where she was responsible for all marketing matters in an SME. I’m sure these skills stood her in good stead throughout The Apprentice, but more important was this remark from her application form where she says “I was voted both class comedian and most likely to succeed in my year of graduating secondary school. While never short of a witty remark I have a drive that never sleeps” I didn’t see much wit, but her steely determination shone throughout. Even more, her fellow candidates recognised her abilities and drive. Of course, we also took references on Niamh and they were quite outstanding.

Was very disappointing in interview. He came in and sat in front of me with dead eyes as if to say ‘I’m ready, bring it on, I don’t care’! That was such a shame because the very essence of Panos is his effusiveness, imagination and flair. While I’m sure his attitude had much to do with the essence of the interview task which can be intrusive, it is his challenge to bring out his attributes and he didn’t. What was revealed instead was a slightly self-centred man who didn’t want to bust a gut to get what he wanted.

Panos is well educated, with a background in sales. His latest role was in Google where he successfully sold advertising space. He has been successful, but wasn’t able to wow any of the interviewers. He didn’t understand what his real strengths were and I suspect it’s because he doesn’t spend as much time as he should asking himself what it takes to get to the top, what do I have and what do I need to develop, to get there?

Having seen enough of Panos from first programme to You’re Fired Show, he is the only person I saw and considered as a Consultant for Brightwater. He has sensitivity, leadership and an innate ability to understand people. Where he falls down flat is in what my Aunt used to tell me when she was trying to encourage me to practice harder “10% inspiration and 90% perspiration”. This lack of grind also annoyed his colleagues on occasion and we saw Jamie, Tara & others, pointing their fingers at Panos for his lack of effort.

The Job
This year Bill prepared a Job Spec for us and it explained that it was principally a marketing role where he wanted someone to exploit the new social media’s of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all manner of e-marketing. Coupled with that, he was looking for an impressive individual who could work with Bill, and even accompany him on trips at home and abroad as a top Assistant. Sales skills were ‘a given’ as Bill requires everyone in his organisation to be good at sales.

The Interviewers
David Bloch: I am the MD of Brightwater Recruitment and my style tends to be empathetic, strong, passionate and focussed. I am an excellent reader of people and naturally empathise with them, at the same time as being able to view the candidates dispassionately, as an interviewer must.

Mairead Fleming: Is the Deputy MD of Brightwater and is a very hard working, honest, forthright, organised and intelligent person. She is fast, efficient and effective. Decisive, she is surprisingly sensitive and insightful with it. People are sometimes intimidated by her strength, but always respect her.

Sheena Clohessy: Is a Human Resources Consultant and she meets and performs psychometric tests on the candidates before the show starts. She is then able to watch how they progress through the show. A really warm lady off air, on air she is cool, dispassionate and analytical.

Gavin Duffy: Well known for his role on Dragon’s Den, he is hired by Bill to dig deep, rough up the candidates a bit and see what they’re made of. I had the dubious pleasure of watching him trying to break through Niamh’s guard and he was brilliant! However, the measure of the man is that when he came out, he explained how impressed he’d been by Niamh’s strength and ability. On air he is astute, tough, insightful and ruthless, missing nothing. Off air he is funny and great company.

All 4 interviewers agreed that Niamh and Michelle should go through and that Panos and Will should be let go. For the role that Bill wants, we recommended Niamh over Michelle, but it was a close thing. What I’m guessing is, it will ultimately depend on whether Bill is more tempted by Niamh’s e-marketing experience, or by Michelle’s sales experience… as well as by her age and life experience. NB. Bill absolutely decides who he wants and while he listens and watches, he ultimately makes the decision. Indeed for TV, the Producers wanted Barry to get through to the interview section as he would have made fascinating TV, but Bill fired him. So who will Bill Hire?

Brightwater Party
Last night, weather or no, we held an Apprentice party and had a full house! I admit I was surprised, but I think it is a measure of the popularity of The Apprentice that people were prepared to come even in that weather. We also had Panos, Will, Nagaite, Sarah and Steve Raynor come for the evening as well as the production company, ShinAwil. Such a nice bunch, I was most interested to speak to Steve Raynor about how much he’s enjoyed his job and how well it’s going altogether. Now a short plug for some of the Apprentices who are available for work: Will, Nagaite and of course, one of next week’s finalists…!

Week 11 – Website Marketing

December 3rd, 2010

The Show
Prepare and present the Barry Group’s new take out offering to its customers – principally wine and beer. The Teams were split with Panos, Will and Niamh for Elev8 and Michelle and Barry for Fusion.

The Teams
What has become clear through the show is that any team containing Barry is not a team unless Barry is totally in charge of it. He is a good leader, so long as everyone else is prepared to follow his instruction without question. I really don’t think Barry means to be nasty in any way and he seems genuinely bemused when he causes consternation. He has an absolute will to win and is confident that his way is right. Unfortunately, when he is teamed with strong people there will be problems and in this case that was Michelle (if Barry had had Will on his team, he would have told Will what to do and set him to do the donkey work, while Barry did everything significant).

The other team was headed by Niamh and again she showed what an outstanding young business person she is. She used Panos to help create and they were excellent. She used Will to do the donkey work and patiently gave him the clear instructions he needed. Needless to say, Elev8 won easily.

What a guy! I’m going to miss him on the Show. In fact, next week’s show is the Interview bit and I was really hoping to interview Barry. Sadly, this week he came up against a very strong contender in Michelle. Someone who was going to fight… and Barry lost.

Not the best educated man, but definitely unusually capable, intelligent, high energy and determined. He started working at 8 and by 30 had a big house, Bentley in the driveway etc, but he admits he was still pushing on and on and that’s his restless nature. He got criticized in the Board room for being insensitive to people’s feelings (like calling women ‘Babe’), but with Barry it didn’t seem offensive (though it was certainly inappropriate).

Barry is a natural character and is sensitive in his way. He doesn’t mean to cause offense, but he does lack antennae and therein lies the problem. He is charging off like a bull in a china shop and never stops to consider that he is disrespecting others by not stopping and listening. I found myself feeling a little sorry for Barry (not a feeling I like to have) because he really doesn’t understand what he’s doing wrong. I had the pleasure of meeting him before his You’re Fired Show and I was with my kids. Barry was Barry. Open and friendly, he came right out, smiled and spoke with my kids and put them right at ease.

Barry is 32 and his businesses to date include: Barry Hunt Decorators, Dublin Decorating Centres then changed to (Hardcore Décor), The Iveagh Bar, Locktec Locksmiths, Locksecure Locksmiths, Barry Anthony Paints, Advanced Cosmetic Treatments, Advanced Beauty Stop, Forever Ink Tattoo Studios, Off Cutz Barber Shop. The barber shop is still going and I will stop in when I can to support Barry. I truly hope he finds the right niche(s), because he was never right to be Bill’s apprentice. He’s not a follower, he’s a leader… without a team.

I won’t be discussing any of the other candidates as I will save that until next week when you have see the interview section… as usual, there will be some surprises!