Archive for July, 2011

You're F@$#ed!

Oh the Apprentice is back, and what fun and frivolity this season of dweebs and fantasists has brought me!  This year, Sir Alan is once again unsure of which of his many titles the contestants should call him.  While for the last few seasons, he has been Siralun, this year he elected to be called Lord Sugar.  Surely a knighthood trumps being a peer, but I suppose Sir Alan has a more familiar, friendly appeal whereas Lord Sugar is more ominous and threatening, providing the connotation of his ability to blow up planets using a death star if he so feels.

So, titles notwithstanding, Sir Lord Alan Sugar Supreme Ruler of the distant planet Amstrad is once again commanding minions to sell dog food and biscuits.  However, there is a ridiculous fantasy tied in with this show, that people who can do any sort of selling are therefore magically gifted in business.  We’re already up to episode twelve, and while some episodes have resulted in literally thousands of dollars worth of sales (Lord Sugar’s pre-existent ties to major corporations like Asda playing no part in such sales), most weeks have returns in the far more humbling hundreds of pounds.  And this is how the show is ideological.  Despite the fact that there are t.v. cameras following the contestants, and the fact that the contestants are working in teams, with free cross-London transportation and working flat out for 48 hour periods, their returns are consistently within the 500 – 600 pound range.  And so it fulfils a sort of television fantasy, where we too with our humdrum lives of selling shoes, hobnobs or noddy dogs can feel that with our meagre incomes, our ‘talents’ will one day take us to the offices of Siralun where we too can eat at the trough of plenty.

But lets take a look at the math.  In week 12 the apprenti were set about buying and selling a load of cheap tat – umbrellas, nodding dogs, shitty watches.  Siralun provided two hundred and fifty pounds worth of ‘merchandise’ which the apprenti were tasked to sell and then sniffing out what they considered the hot properties, had to buy up more, and sell that too.  They had two days of farting about with which to turn a profit.  And in the end, the two teams had total assets of about 750.  But wait.  Is this really a miracle of business?  If we look at the numbers, they began with 250 worth of stock given to them.  So really, they generated about 500 in profit, over two days.  In teams of four.  They also spent much of their day pissing about travelling in vans, not paying gas or congestion charge fees.  So really that 500 in profit is more like 460.  They also mysteriously had booths, tables, tents and other stuff to help them sell the merchandise.  As well as pitches on the South bank and Covent garden market, pitches that one must buy a license to have.  So this 460 pound profit is not a real figure either, not reflecting the actual cost of their two days worth of sales.  Adding to their sales ability, they also had the magic of t.v. cameras, which tend to attract attention wherever you set them.  So, they had the additional draw of television and people’s natural curiosity which is piqued whenever there’s the chance of ‘will I be on the telly?’  So even their incredible sales prowess could be attributed not to their innate business acumen but rather to the fact that they’re bringing to their sales pitching their pseudo-celebrity status endowed on them by the very show itself.

So finally we’ve got a figure of roughly  450 pounds earned by a team of supposed business stars, who have the weight of television behind them, siralun’s added generosity, free transportation costs and the costs of licensing their sales venues provided to them.  But how much did they really earn?  Well, 450 pounds split four ways over two days works out to 112.50 per person.  Over the two day span, that works out to earnings of 56.25 per person per day.  Divide that into a 9 hour working day, and you’re left with 6.25 per hour, about what a long time employee at McDonalds gets.  And that’s excluding the publicity and benefit of being on t.v.

So, good on you business stars of tomorrow!




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