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The Apprentice- The Final

December 14, 2010 10:36 by Charlie

We have a winner! And it’s Michelle! And I was right! J

At first, I wasn’t impressed by the task last night. I must admit when Bill said it would be an “Experiential Marketing” task I thought he’d either made up a word or grossly mispronounced something. Secondly, I thought mixing three brands for the task was a bit unnecessary and it would have been much better with just one brand each and one big event.

Nonetheless, it was going to be a big challenge for the candidates and so they needed the help of the fired candidates to get things off the ground. The candidates actually worked as team for a change and they even seemed to be really enjoying it. I was surprised that they selected Niamh Humphries to come back for the final but she managed not to be too annoying.

I have been standing by my choice of Michelle to win over the past few weeks but watching the first half of the show last night I did think Niamh was looking to be more impressive and I must say her opening speech at her event was easily the best presentation we’ve seen on the show. In the second half of the show though, I think Michelle had executed the “experiential” element of the task better than Niamh had.

In the boardroom it was business as usual from Bill. Just because the Niamh and Michelle were the finalists didn’t mean they were getting away without a grilling from Bill. When it came to picking the winner it really was too close to call but I think Michelle was the right choice.

So what were your highlights from this series? What did you think of the final? Are you happy Michelle won? Will you being watching again next year? Leave your comments below please.

The Apprentice: The Interviews!

December 7, 2010 10:53 by Charlie

Ah the dreaded interviews. It’s always funny to hear the candidates talk about how confident they are, when we all know they will be close to tears shortly.

  We know to expect the interview from hell but still you have to feel sorry for the candidates as you watch each interviewer trying to make them crack. I thought Will looked most likely to crack first when Gavin Duffy asked him to “Think on his feet about thinking on his feet” but he just about held it together.  

Panos provided the comedy us as usual describing his “Power Tool Trauma”. Niamh seemed to be actually getting under the skin of the interviewers because they couldn’t shake her in the slightest.

And there’s always a candidate with something questionable in their past and this year we had Michelle admitting she had auditioned for the Playboy channel as a presenter. Gavin was pulling no punches when questioning Michelle about it and for a second there I thought he was going to channel Jack Nicholson with a full on “You can’t handle the truth!” rant.

The interviewers turned into much nicer people once they got back into the boardroom and for the most part they all agreed that Niamh and Michelle were the ones they would recommend for the final.  

I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t put money on Michelle because I think she’s going to be the one who gets hired next week!

Also, who thinks Gavin Duffy should take over from Bill next year?  

Leave your comments below.

The Apprentice: Week 11

November 30, 2010 10:16 by Charlie

Down to the last handful of candidates and the last of the team tasks so you could understand when Panos, Niamh and Will nearly coming to blows when deciding a project manager. Meanwhile, on Michelle and Barry’s team they decided they didn’t need a project manager which rang alarm bells from the start.

Will looked reluctant to get started with his part of the task and once he was left on his own he looked completely lost for the rest of the show. Also, after the criticism about communication last week you would think he would have made more of an effort to be concise and get his point across. But we all know Bill likes a Salesman and even with Bill’s weekly boardroom assault you can tell he does like Will.

Apart from that, there seemed to be much more focus on getting balloons, tables and caterers organised than working on the website from both teams.

I think Barry and Michelle delivered the brief better than Niamh’s team. They did at least include targeting for the female market with the “GirlsNightOut” partnership and gave a mention of setting up social media outlets. Niamh’s team seemed ignore those parts of the brief completely.

However, Barry was up to his usual tricks on the presentation and Niamh’s team clearly had the better site so there was no question they would win. I’m still not sure I like the name “Tipple Tattle” though.

Things got a bit dramatic in the boardroom. It did look like Michelle was playing the victim but having said that she stuck up for herself well. The more Barry talked the more his weaknesses were stacking up and even though he spoke well for himself at times we could see his time was up.  

Now, I actually had a feeling that Barry wasn’t going to be this year’s winner because I met him in a nightclub a few weeks ago and even though he wouldn’t give anything away I figured Bill Cullen’s newest apprentice wouldn’t be starting his career with gigs in nightclubs.

So farewell to my buddy Barry…….

(I don't know what the story is with the weird grins)

The Apprentice: Week Ten

November 23, 2010 10:44 by Charlie

You know, the problem with these advertising based tasks is that even if the candidates can come up with a good concept, they just don’t have the time to carry it out properly. Although, that’s not to say that last night would be an example of the candidates coming up with good concepts. 

Bill picked out Panos and Ciara as project managers and obviously wanted to find out if Panos could do more than entertain and if Ciara could do more than complain. The brainstorming from both teams resulted in them basically coming up with same idea. Off to the focus groups they went in search of approval and when they didn’t get it, both teams decided to ignore the results. Why bother doing the focus group in the first place? I don’t think a focus group is always necessary, but if you are going to conduct a focus group you should at least listen to the results. Plus, I was hoping to see their reaction to Barry’s idea of having “Go, Harvey Go!” in an Italian accent on their ad. 

Ciara looked terrible on this task from the start and it didn’t help that she had Jamie to contend with. I can see why Jamie may not have confidence in Ciara but it really did seem like he was against everything Ciara said. Regardless though, Ciara stacked up the errors by booking too many models, not calling the cameraman and generally not managing things well. Meanwhile, Panos’ team had to deal with plenty of changes in their plans but apart from that, things were running smoothly for them and Barry was in his element in the director’s role. All he was lacking was a fold-out chair and silly trousers. 

We’ve seen some terrible presentations in the Apprentice but Barry’s display last night was a new low. He could have tried to come up with something on the spot, he could have used cue cards rather than pulling out crumpled bits of paper and even failing that, he could have stayed quiet and allowed Panos to save the presentation but he couldn’t help himself. Car crash TV. 

In the boardroom, everybody watching knew Ciara was going home so essentially we were just waiting for Bill to finish his usual rant. Then, BAM!, double eviction. Ciara goes and then Jamie! While Jamie was a bit disruptive in this task, I think Bill was simply sending a message to the rest of the candidates.  

And then there were five…….of which I think it’s got to be one of the girls who’ll win. I’ve already backed Michelle, any Niamh supporters out there? Or do you think one of the guys could win? Let us know what you think below.

The Apprentice: Week Nine

November 16, 2010 10:10 by Charlie

For some reason I took particular notice of the opening credits last night and found myself watching in envy as the shots of Will driving his Porsche came on. Is that his own or did TV3 provide it for effect?

Anyway, last night, we saw Spar return with another task for this year’s candidates and a tough task especially with the time constraints involved. On Team Elev8, everyone pretended they wanted to be PM while secretly hoping someone else would take it. Barry’s name was thrown forward and so what could he do but take the job. Over on Team Fusion, Ciara was completely shot down for the PM role by the rest of the team while Michelle got their full support.

I have to say the selection of products all looked quite good from what we saw of them but the self heating meal was the one that stood out immediately. Barry was particularly excited about it saying he had a “semi” over the product but the less said there the better. No question the packaging was certainly wrong and should have been changed but you have to ask yourself what McEvoys themselves were thinking in the first place when it was designed. Was the “firelighter” colouring originally intended to give the impression of warmth and relate to the self heating element of it? Would they have disliked a change to more traditional colouring?

I liked Brodericks branding but there wasn’t anything particularly exciting or innovative about the product for me. I think Fusion won the task mainly on the fact that Michelle and Panos secured the deal with Insomnia Coffee, which may be the single best thing we’ve seen the candidates pull off in this series. Although, even if Fusion hadn’t secured the Insomnia deal, they would have been resting easy had they seen Barry’s presentation, which he seemed to make up as he went along.

In the boardroom, I was really starting to hope that Bill was going to fire himself because I think he needs a holiday. He criticises Barry for spending too little time viewing each product and then tells Jamie he spent too little time with each potential product. You only gave them an hour Bill, what are you expecting? And the assault continued with pretty much everyone taking a beating. I think it nearly broke his face when he had to tell Michelle and Panos they had done something well.

Based on this task alone, it was a toss up who would go from the final three candidates but overall, Dave has probably been lucky to last this long so he was the right person to fire.

The biggest let down on this task is that we won’t be seeing those self heating meals on the shelves in Spar…..I wanna try one of those!

The Apprentice: Week 8

November 9, 2010 10:38 by Charlie

There’s always a point in the show where you know the task is going to swing in one team’s favour. Well that point came very early last night when Will kept referring to the Viral Marketing campaign as a “Vinyl”. That, coupled with the fact that Tara was project manager for their team meant they didn’t have much hope from the start. 

Surprisingly, Appleby’s Jewellers were not scared off by their experiences from the two past series of the show and returned to provide a task again this year. And thankfully they even came up with an exciting task for the candidates as many of them (clearly) hadn’t used viral marketing before. 

God bless Panos, he tried explaining the concept till he was blue in the face but the penny just wasn’t dropping and it wasn’t till the end of the first day that the rest of the team started catching on. Meanwhile, Niamh and her team seemed to be working well together and getting things done. Some of Dave’s ideas for taglines (“Kick in the ring” and “Protect your stones”….?) were definitely not suitable for the Appleby’s brand but they were on the right line of thinking and I actually quite liked their tagline about the Jewels in the end. 

Even taking into account the limited time and budget for these tasks I think both campaigns were essentially just TV ads so neither team really delivered what they were asked for. Still, there was no question that Fusion worked together better, were more organised, presented better and came across as much more professional. Tara’s presentation alone would probably have been enough to lose the task for Elev8. 

Back in the boardroom, Niamh was clearly confident. So confident in fact she was actually taking the blame for things that weren’t her fault but in any case we knew she wasn’t going to be in the firing line. Tara was always going to go. 

And it looks like Panos is in trouble with Bill in next weeks show…… I’ll definitely be tuning in for that!

Our Highlights from the last 12 months

November 8, 2010 12:47 by Charlie

Today's our 11th Birthday, here are some of the highlights of the last 12 months....

2009 ended with our Christmas party in The Boardwalk where we were all very well behaved as usual….. 

The office became much quieter as Elaine & Gill went off on maternity leave and a short time later we welcomed Eoghan and JJ into the world. Diarmuid also had a new arrival with the birth of his baby boy Jude. 

We had a series of Guest Blog posts from Peter Cosgrove in CPL as well as a series of Good News Fridays to keep the spirits up. After months of deliberation the boys revolutionised the office with the addition of a toasted sandwich maker and this caused controversy when the boys applied a charge of one euro per sandwich for the girls! We’re still waiting for it to turn a profit though! 

Vicki entered Chef Factor and we were lucky enough to get a sample here in the office. Sinead celebrated 10 years with in October and we celebrated with a yummy lunch in the Woodford.

We look forward to an even busier 12th year in business!

The Apprentice: Week 7

November 2, 2010 10:09 by Charlie

So for once I’m going to say Bill did something right. I thought it was actually a good idea to ban the use of the internet for this task. Rather than allowing candidates to sit in a meeting room researching and emailing they had to get out and create the buzz for their events face to face.

On Michelle’s team, Dave and Barry looked like they got off to a good start and no doubt Dave knew he would be expected to contribute a lot from his experience in event management. Will’s team seemed to get off to a much slower start and once both teams were up and running it became a bit hard to follow who was doing what because there was so much going on. 

Tara seemed to be going around talking in monologues as usual and not doing particularly much. Ciara, who comes across as very feisty in the boardroom was very subdued during this task. Luckily, we can always rely on Panos for pure entertainment and this week was no exception. The candidates explaining the concept of “Ba Ba Trap Sheep” to Panos in the boardroom was absolutely priceless.

When it came down to the last three in the boardroom it’s fair to say none of the candidates had been particularly outstanding during the task but Nagaite looked completely defeated and I think she knew she was gone well before Bill said the words.

Incidentally, did anyone notice the Cadbury ads that ran during the breaks last night featuring Jackie and Brian? I think Bill might have to consider firing two extra people this year…..

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Apprentice: Week 6

October 26, 2010 10:24 by Charlie

Seeing as the candidates have been so strong in the marketing tasks thus far, Bill decided to offer them another opportunity to show off last night with the “Fiestaval” task. Or, maybe Bill is taking pleasure in the misery of the candidates; I’ll let you make your own mind up.

Firstly, in defence of the candidates, it wasn’t very fair to ask them to take pictures that capture party moments and then give them a car that was chained to a podium and set against a plain canvass backdrop. This was to immediately cause problems for both teams but they worked around the problem well, (even with all the arguing) by taking photos that reflected the features of the car.

Inevitably, one of the teams used a picture with a person under 18 but we knew as soon as Bill mentioned it that someone was going to get caught out on that one. What nobody would have seen coming was that one of the teams would present an 11-month calendar, and win. Yes, even though Bill said that Fusion had “cancelled Christmas” you just couldn’t deny the way they turned the negative into a positive was genius, if not supremely brazen.

Any of the 3 candidates in the firing line at the end could have gone but Sarah had an air of desperation about her so I think she knew her time was up. Elsewhere, Jamie stood out as a strong contender for the title and Michelle, who I picked as my winner last week, turned into a spoilt brat because she wasn’t picked as project manager for this task. Michelle, don’t let me down, I put my faith in you. And Panos, who is the standout candidate for entertainment purposes in this series, had a stiff neck and was off his face on pain killers.

And folks, there’s no point in telling Bill what you think about the show because he “couldn’t give a riddler’s” but we want your comments!

Let us know your thoughts below….

The Apprentice: Week 5

October 19, 2010 10:42 by Charlie


Now, I know the show is supposed to be the interview from hell but I’d much rather see the candidates be given less detailed tasks and actually come up with better ideas and have time to implement them. Last night the candidates had to brainstorm ideas, come up with concepts, conduct research, refine concepts, design media, print their ads, plan their media spend and do a presentation. Which would be fine if they were all judged on every aspect of the task, but in the end it all comes down to which team has the better ad.

Anyway, Bill hand-picked Tara and Barry as the project managers so they knew from the start theirs heads were on the chopping block. Tara seemed to up her game straight away to be fair. In previous weeks, all we’ve seen of Tara has been her saying how useless everyone else is so I was surprised she turned it around so well. Barry makes enough noise to appear as if he’s working but I don’t think any great ideas came from him last night and he definitely made some poor decisions with regard to the layout and colour of his team’s ad.

Alarm bells started ringing for me when Tara’s team changed the WEEE logo in their ad but actually they got off pretty lightly with that. On Barry’s team I think he absolutely bluffed when answering questions after his presentation and again he got away pretty lightly. But nobody was more blessed than Dave Cashman who would have certainly been given his marching orders had team Elev8 not won the task.

When Barry brought Ciara and Caroline back in the boardroom I think we all knew Ciara was safe. Barry had made far more errors than Caroline had but he’s made enough noise to at least keep Bill thinking he might have more to offer.

We all know the winner is usually leaked or at least rumoured well before the show ends so I’m challenging you to pick your winner this week. I’m picking Michelle. Agree? Disagree?

Comments and your pick of the winner below please.