Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Apprentice series 5, episode 3 - live blogging

If you're reading this after the show and haven't seen the result yet, head down to the bottom of the page now. If you read from the top you'll see who gets fired.

If you already know the result, feel free to read in either direction. Probably still more logical from the bottom upwards, though.

10:31 Thanks for watching, everyone, and see you next week.

10:30 Another preview of next Wednesday, which looks like a reasonable episode but not as good as today. Perhaps I will be able to get an analysis of dynamic stochastic general equilibrium out of next week's show.

10:27 The audience doesn't like the firee as much as I do. They must be wrong, of course.

10:24 I must agree with Heidi at the Guardian about the pointlessness of Carole Malone. Who is she again?

10:20 A nice little demo of the winning product from Trevor Nelson.

10:18 Maybe I'm in a better mood this week, but I'm enjoying both shows. That Michelle Mone is lovely.

10:06 Actually, this is notable. So far Maj is the most likeable candidate we've had on You're Fired. In fact the best since Raef last year.

10:03 This week I'm not commentating on You're Fired. Unless something really interesting comes up.

10:00 Not much direct irrationality either - unless you count lack of omniscience as irrationality (which traditional economics often does).

9:59 A good episode this week. Lots of interesting insights into the innovation process and the diffusion of new ideas in a population with bounded rationality.

9:58 James is popular in the house!

9:57 However, it's fair to say that Ben made a good try at this - there was not much wrong with his attitude or work rate, just his judgment.

9:55 I'm surprised by the result. A firing for passivity when there were much worse sins in this task.

9:54 The expression of certain concepts in this episode is much more interesting than normally. Margaret has reported back that James is a good leader, and Alan mentions this as a factor in his decision.

9:51 Ideas can be generated by coming up with a small number of good concepts: or thinking of lots of concepts and then applying a good filtering mechanism. In this case the small number theory seems not to have worked.

9:50 Alan Sugar, amazingly, just criticised someone for never having a good word to say about anyone.

9:45 Communication within the firm this time: the manager claims he decided to mislead his team about their product to keep their morale high. A legitimate argument.

9:43 Margaret points out that they have not understood their target market. Markets are not homogeneous, and an idea that strongly resonates with a subset often works better than one that weakly resonates with everyone.

9:41 The prize this time (a private opera recital from Katharine Jenkins) seems not to be efficient economically: it must have been expensive because Jenkins doesn't need to be on the Apprentice for free just for the publicity; while the utility to the team seems likely to be low. But they have all dressed up and look very pretty for it.

9:40 Ben does have a lovely turn of phrase. About James: "I'll bite his bloody teeth out" if he tries to blame me in the boardroom. If we lose him today the series will get slightly more boring.

9:39 Alan Sugar actually singled out two contestants for individual praise. That's a new one.

9:38 John Lewis ordered 500 from Empire and 10000 from Ignite!

 Totally Fitness ordered nothing from Empire and 100 from Ignite.

9:37 Results: Powerhouse ordered nothing from Empire and 80 from Ignite.

9:34 And...boardroom time. It's quite interesting that the team don't get feedback on their sales orders during their negotiations - giving them no chance to innovate or refine the idea iteratively as they enter the market. Any idea that survives in the marketplace ends up embodying the structure of the market as much as the mind of the original inventor.

9:32 Let me correct that: Lorraine has got much better. John Lewis just asked for an exclusive on the product. The team wasn't quite sure how to respond - they don't have experience of retail volumes - but it's a great buying signal when someone asks for that in a negotiation.

9:31 Kate of Empire is a better pitcher than Lorraine of Ignite. Shame about the product. Ben is very proud of his invention but I foresee a fall coming.

9:29 Ouch! Empire have mistargetted their product. At a price point of £30 it competes with a £2000 multi-gym product. It's critical to remember the interests and incentives of the firms in the sales channel as well as the end user.

9:28 Empire's pitchee already seems bemused. A new idea needs to be simple to be transmitted easily into the market.

9:26 Pitch time! If we go back to evolutionary theory, this is a mating display. Ignite's pitch is not as bad as the rehearsal.

9:25 Good: time for Nick to have an opinion.  External validation of your idea is an important method of signalling to new prospects in any market. Unfortunately, he's not validating it.

9:23 Ben is trying to chat Kate up. But not when she's there, which is a bit odd.

9:22 More on communication: a terrible pitch from Lorraine. Debra then decides to let her pitch it anyway, because "the product is so strong". And, of course, because it gives her someone to blame if they lose.

9:18 Product prototyping companies must love this show. What fun to build these people's random ideas into something that (on past experience) seems to work pretty well.

9:16 Market research, to refine the idea. Empire finds that the biggest-selling items in a local gym shop are the simplest. The rest of their team then proceeds to make the product more complex. Ideas need to interact with their environment to become successful. Danger for Empire here.

9:15 A juicy argument between Ignite team members about whether to have two "ethnic minority" candidates in the poster.

9:13 Ignite hasn't come up with any workable ideas at all. But they're going ahead with marketing, which is probably a rational resource allocation decision.

9:11 They're struggling a little with names - the next stage in innovation, after developing the idea, is communicating it to other people. Not serious yet, though.

9:10 Ben has an idea that seems to come from some knowledge of actual fitness. This supports the theory that new innovations come most often from firms already active in the same industry.

9:09 The Ignite project manager is already complaining about her team. Not in front of them, fortunately.

9:08 "Something that works in the shower". "I'm keen to go down the 'sex sells' route. Something that you can use while you're actually having sex, that creates resistance." I think where these ideas come from is whatever is on the contestants' mind most of the time.

9:06 There's some interesting economics about where intellectual content comes from - and particularly how it impacts economic growth. It will be interesting to try to identify where the ideas come from.

9:05 The task is to invent an item of portable home fitness equipment and sell it to three big retailers. A bit of team-switching, which should relieve the sex-war monotony.

9:04 Nothing really happening yet. A bit of grooming by the girls and posturing by the males. There's some evolutionary basis for this (fitness signalling) but it's a stretch to call it economics.

9:00 Welcome!

I'll be live blogging The Apprentice again this week, starting in just over an hour. As usual, I'll focus on the implications for economic theory and rationality, whatever that means in the context of these contestants.

In the meantime the Guardian are probably getting started - click here to start chatting to their commenters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much, I missed the start of the show, this allowed me to catch up!