The sourcer’s Apprentice

22 March 2012
For those who missed it, last night was the start of the new series of The Apprentice, the TV show where a group of aspiring (and some ‘established’) businessmen and women compete to win a job with Lord Alan Sugar. Once again, no professional buyer made it into the 16 shortlisted candidates. But it goes without saying this didn’t stop me from thinking about procurement all the way through. 

The first task was about adding value (printed designs) to raw products (unbranded t-shirts, bags, teddy bears) in order to make sales and generate profit. And although sourcing wasn’t the focus of this particular episode, I was a bit disappointed not to see more about the buying process. In the end (spoiler alert!) the girls lost out to the boys by a mile, largely because they failed to sell, but some basic procurement skills might have helped them narrow the gap a bit. The part when they put pressure on a shopkeeper to try and force a sale was embarrassing, highlighting the need for improved negotiation skills. It’s still early to see real signs of promise among the candidates but I will patiently await the ‘buying task’ episode to see if the professional wrestler or bridal shop owner really stand out.

Back in 2006, Lord Sugar told SM that buying was the third most important element of any business. Here’s hoping he keeps that in mind when considering whom to save from his firing line.

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