Live blogging The Apprentice: series 5, episode 6

10:30 Thanks for watching - see you next week.

The lessons from this episode's wander into economic theory? First, that seller ignorance is just as destructive of consumer benefit - or more - as buyer ignorance. Seller ignorance, in a situation like this week's task, is more likely to see something sold to a person who will undervalue it - because if the seller offers it at an unrealistically low price, it will be bought by people on a whim instead of those who will actually derive the most benefit from it.

Second, the importance of understanding the rules you're trading under. It's not clear whether the teams were told the full rules at the beginning of the task - that they would be penalised for selling things too cheaply. In the last series' version of this task, it was mandatory to sell all the items (if I'm remembering right) so it would be natural to assume the same thing for this year.

Third, the subjectivity of the boardroom process makes performance in the task much less relevant (under certain conditions). Although a good result does stop you from being in the room in the first place, once you're in there, it's pure psychology that determines whether you survive.

And here's the customary space to give you a chance to click away if you haven't seen the episode yet.

10:29 An entire programme about Nooral which barely features him at all. No wonder the audience votes against him.

10:23 Now it's Debra's turn. And Nick's. And Margaret's. Nooral must be hating this. His face certainly is.

10:20 Indeed Ben is clearly more interesting than Nooral and is taking up much more of the show.

10:17 Ben is enemy of the week but he's more a figure of fun than of enmity.

10:14 Back to being a bit quiet again. Nick has a kind and probably accurate summary of Nooral - a decent bloke, courteous, educated - but not outwardly displaying the passion for business that Sir Alan is looking for.

10:00 I am curious to see how Nooral will come across in You're Fired. He's had a couple of different personalities so far, and this show often brings out the best one.

9:59 I can't quite tell what next week's episode is meant to be about. Something to do with developing new the North of England. Or selling them. To shops. Seems to be cat-related. Struggling a bit.

9:58 Well, not the best episode in history but a great second half.

9:57 Getting more exciting now...down to the last ten.

9:56 Nooral! He screwed himself over at the last minute.

9:55 And a remarkably concise summary from Sralan - leading to the firing of...

9:54 Nooral is now telling tales which don't shed a good light on him. Ben has supposedly been "talking in the house about what magazines he's going to get interviews with". I think he's put himself in danger.

9:53 Ben's defense is straight out of the video CV from his audition.

9:52 Nooral is brilliantly manipulating Ben into making himself look useless.

9:51 Best boardroom scene of the series. It's tough to get this across in text - watch it if you can.

9:49 Ben's wasting all his time defending himself - ineptly. Surely he's going down.

9:46 Nooral started out the competition as a shy violet. But now he's doing a good job of dominating Ben in the boardroom. I'm impressed.

9:44 Ben is going to bring Nooral and James into the boardroom. James exclaims "Me??" at the same moment as Alan Sugar incredulously asks "James??" Debra and Yasmina seem to be safe...but Ben changes his mind and summons Debra instead. Debra is ready to kill someone - I wouldn't like to be in the room competing with her.

9:43 Interesting team dynamic. Instead of ganging up on Ben - who has put his foot in a few big traps - Debra and Yasmina are sowing discord between each other and James.

9:40 Alan has pointed out two clear mistakes by Ben: not planning properly to identify the valuable items, and selling things at any cost instead of focusing on making a profit on each item.

9:38 I don't have much insight into who Ben will take into the boardroom this time. Yasmina has been quite visible in this episode, but hasn't done much particularly wrong.

9:35 Empire made about £78 on a few items but lost £247 - a net loss of £169. We don't know what items they lost on, but no doubt some gory details will show up in the boardroom grilling.

9:34 Ignite made a profit of £96 on several items and a loss of £130 on two of them - losing £34 net.

9:33 Ben's stress is a theme in this week's editing. The other is obviously going to be the undervalued rug - particularly on Philip's side. That £5 difference in sale value is going to hurt them in the editing.

9:30 A little lesson in corporate politics. It doesn't pay just to be right - as Lorraine was - you need to either get people to act on it, or shut up about it! She's likely to be in trouble even though she was the only person who spotted the value.

9:29 Yasmina manages to sell hers for £55. Philip shifts his for £50. Both lose a ton of cash on it but at least it's balanced.

9:27 Ben's team is also getting their backstabs in early - Ben is "panicking" according to Nick and several of his teammates. A bit of irrationality - emotional motivations are quite likely to take over from rational ones, and his desperation to be rid of the items will lose him money.

9:26 Never knew Greenwich market to be open at 5.30 pm before...

9:25 Margaret is horrified by Philip's team's rug hijinks. Listen to the signals - she emphasises that Lorraine recognised the potential value of the rugs. Watch for that to come out in the boardroom in twenty minutes.

9:20 Nooral is selling the skeleton - we now get a direct comparison between the two teams' prowess - or luck. And Ben's team loses out on one or the other, selling for £60 - £100 less than the others.

9:18 So far it doesn't look like either team has been seriously ripped off by an informed buyer. I think that's about to change, as Philip is going to offload a £200 rug in a flea market for a fiver.

9:17 The other team abandon all pretence at search theory and get a ridiculous stroke of luck. Someone who always wanted to have one (and obviously wants to be on TV) offers them £160 (!!) for their plastic skeleton.

9:14 They are impatient to sell something and give up their bargaining position on a first edition of Octopussy in order to close a deal. Auction and search theory have some insight into this - how many buyers is it worth contacting before picking one? They probably found a reasonable balance.

9:13 Ben's project manager on one team and the task obviously isn't glamorous enough for him. But he is mistaking economic value for game value - every task is equivalent in this series, no matter if the stakes are pounds or hundreds.

9:10 A lovely reversal of the market for lemons. In the real world, sellers invariably know more about the object than buyers. There are a whole range of techniques used both by buyers and sellers to counter this information asymmetry and make transactions economically worthwhile for both. But when the seller doesn't know the value of what they're offering, the situation is reversed.

9:05 This week's task - after the vague subjectivity of last week's - is a paragon of clarity. Sell a bunch of objects for as much money as you can get. A nice collection of stuff, too.

 Welcome back!


roym said…
hello, ive been enjoying your blog for a couple of weeks now.

this years apprentice has had me raging at the television on a weekly basis!

what are the economic theories surrounding AS's wild self-contradictions?! last night really took the biscuit when both nick and AS were practically feeding ben the answers. and nick kept piping up for him in the final three. this programme gets more and more comedic. and when you stand up for yourself (deborah)? you get slapped down. i really think there should be an extended show on bbc3 so we can start to regain some trust that this isnt a trick of editing. i mean come on! ben has committed howlers in at least 3 episodes, and is only a year older than rocky (deemed too inexperienced). just because he's a rentaquote villian mens he'll be there to the end.

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