Last night’s episode of the BBC reality show was a celebration of corporate lawyer’s big picture vision
After last week’s heart-breaking episode, in which family lawyer Lauren departed the process, the legal profession’s hopes are now firmly pinned on ex-Slaughter and May solicitor Felipe and his collection of questionable ties.
Nerves were jangling ferociously as last night’s episode got underway and the candidates were sent to the Royal Bath and West Show. The task was simple: the teams had to select products to sell at the show and then make more profit than their rivals.
Having not been project manager since the first episode back in October, Felipe senses that it is time once again, in Apprenticespeak, to step up to the plate. His team mates acquiesce, keen to benefit from the City lawyer’s highly-touted logistic and planning skills.
After some initial silliness over product choices — Felipe immediately falls in love with a swinging chair, behaving like a child at Christmas exclaiming that he wants it in his garden — key decisions are made: Felipe goes with some rather ridiculous flat-cap handbags, a bike trailer and — fatefully — hot tubs.
The rival team had wanted the hot tubs, but an error by team leader, James, who riled the supplier by getting his name wrong, saw the opportunity to sell this key item go to Team Felipe. The former Slaughter and May man is far too smooth, and values attention to detail far too highly, to make such a mistake. James’s team is left with foldable wellies and seated lawnmowers.
And so the sales battle begins.
Being a big picture man, ideas come naturally to Felipe, but in the nitty-gritty of a fight to flog goods he is not so comfortable. The lawyer’s problem is argumentative team mate Daniel, who is convinced he should sell the hot tubs. Their spat degenerates and the pair end up fighting like children. Daniel isn’t easy, but Felipe needs to a develop a way of shutting down such characters to stop them wasting his time.
Meanwhile, Mark and Katie, whom Felipe had assigned to sell hot tubs, are selling loads of hot tubs. And the opposing team are doing really badly.
So when the teams enter the boardroom astute viewers know that everything is going to be OK for Felipe. Nevertheless the lawyer comes under fire over minor issues. For example, he is criticised for not bargaining harder on price for some of his team’s goods at the beginning of the task. But this is detail. It soon transpires that Felipe’s team has sold far more goods than its rivals, and made far more profit.
Opposing team leader James is basically the opposite of Felipe. A charming rough diamond who breaks rules and takes risk, he is — let’s be honest — more exciting than the methodical and strategic, yet clearly fun and nice, City lawyer.
But here James’s approach just looks reckless and ill considered — and he looks immature. In the boardroom it transpires that he not only missed out on the hot tubs with a sloppy error, but he also failed to mention this information to his teammates. This put James in a very vulnerable position before Lord Sugar, who reluctantly gave him the boot.
So while last week’s episode — in which we lost family solicitor Lauren and Sugar ranted clichés about “typical lawyers” — was basically an attack on the legal profession, this week was a celebration of the values of conscientiousness and thoughtful advance planning that are embodied in the best lawyers. Well done Felipe.
Exclusive interview: sacked BBC Apprentice solicitor on her journey from self-funded LPC student to solicitor-entrepreneur [Legal Cheek]