Young Apprentice – the negotiation episode…

This is the first episode of the Young Apprentice series I've seen and what attracted me was this being the “purchasing” week, where the contestants are given 10 items to buy and have to get the best possible deals. The theme is Madame Tussauds – buy stuff needed for the exhibition. A left handed electric guitar, a three piece suit for Justin Bieber, 100 helium filled balloons, a Dashiki....

After the appalling mess the grown up apprentices made of this task a few months back, when we saw an object lesson in how NOT to negotiate, I wondered how the kids would compare. Well....

One team get on the phone, the others just head off to bits of London they know in the hope that they might find the items. Random sourcing at its best... my money at this point is on the telephone team, although the others have gone to Portabello Road which might be interesting...but probably not in a good way.

“Really squeeze it” says the random team leader, giving insightful negotiation advice to her team member.

"I don't care what you do with it – you can put it in a skip for all I care” says the dealer, when Harry tells him how he will be using his stool, but Harry H does a pretty good haggling job, and gets a chair on sale for £50 for £23. Give that man a CIPS Fellowship.

The telephone team seem to be doing well, but they don't know London – two of them head off to Croydon to buy a watch. Two hours in the taxi.... The wandering around team are making up stories to help their negotiation, without a lot of success. The guitar salesman calls them Dude, and won't negotiate. But eventually they get it down from £99 to £88.

Hey, someone finally mentions to a retailer that they have got other quotes – but they don't push the negotiation very hard. Then Harry M promises that his parents will buy all their carpets forever if the guy gives him £100 off a red carpet, and it works. Then … madness. The team that planned end up in St James (most expensive place in the country to buy suits) trying to buy a small sized suit. Luckily for them, they don't have any.

But the wandering round team strike gold when they find a much cheaper watch than the others got in Croydon. Scary team leader actually does an impressive charm job on the slightly “interesting” antique dealer, and does a great combined deal on watch and vanity case. She's good actually. I'd employ her. Then stay well out of her way....

£130 for a pair of red shoes without any negotiation. Ouch...  We finally get through the day, and one team even find a Dashiki (Nelson Mandela's shirt). And on balance, I thought the kids were better than the adults – there were no real examples of hilarious negotiation, which we saw with the grown ups.

And the random team amazingly win – the planned team didn't negotiate hard, and sent half the team to Croydon which wasted a lot of time. So the moral is perhaps that logistics (well, knowing where Croydon is) and negotiation are just as important as structured category planning.

The very sweet well-spoken girl gets fired for being - well, sweet, well spoken and not too pushy.

Good fun, even if it bears only a faint resemblance to strategic procurement. But in the context of David Smith and his CIPS Presidential theme of getting young people interested in procurement, can we use this sort of thing to get kids interested in procurement? Or might it just put them off?


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  1. Kelsey:

    I haven’t seen the show “Young Apprentice,” but as a young professional I can tell you that strategic procurement is an interesting topic.

    Young Apprentice has the potential to teach us “what to do” and “what not to do” in business. Students are always engaged with reality shows, which makes this show a good fit for the young business-savy population. Young

    Apprentice puts a new spin on teaching procurement. Lesson learned 🙂 Thank you for sharing, I now have a new show I need to watch!

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