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The Apprentice: That didn’t take long, did it?

11th May 2011
Editor at large AccountingWEB
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Ever since I owned a dodgy Amstrad stereo in the 1970s and observed the PCW and [email protected] fiascos that followed, I found it easy to resist Alan Sugar’s claims to business wisdom, writes John Stokdyk

For that reason, I paid little attention to ‘The Apprentice’ through many previous series. This boycott lasted until my colleague Dan Martin told me last week that one of this year’s 16 candidates was Edward Hunter (right), who had trained with one of the Big Four accountancy firms.

Edward HunterEdward’s pre-publicity was gratifyingly cringe-worthy. After becoming a senior associate (aka "trainee") in his firm’s audit team he moved to a FTSE30 energy company, but told the programme: “I’m the wheeler dealer who accidentally became a finance professional and wants out.”

I tuned into Tuesday’s introductory episode hoping to witness a new champion for the Born Dull?! campaign. When it came to demolishing stereotypes, the blue-eyed, half-Afghan beancounter looked an intriguing prospect. Before I knew what had happened, he had pushed himself to the fore as project manager for the first task and was oozing testosterone around a chaotic kitchen where his team was trying to juice 1,400 oranges.

After Edward showed the hapless Leon how to use the juicers more vigorously, the machines packed up and the boys were juicing their fruit by hand. Let’s just say at this point that the performance indicators were not looking good.

“It’s 11am,” Edward noted as he stood next to a pile of orange boxes almost as tall as he was. “We should be out selling.”

Edward had calculated in his head that the oranges would produce around 500 bottles of juice that his Logic team could sell for £2 each. They ended up earning £432 from their juice and soup product lines and were trumped by the ladies, who generated £555 from sales of their £2.50 fruit boxes and vegetarian pasta.

“If we had got them squashed we would have taken a grand, easy,” he said afterwards.

It was in the boardroom that Edward came into his own. As Dara O’Briain pointed out in the ‘You’re Fired’ episode that followed, the accountant had a habit of only speaking in fragments of sentences and leaving it to the listener to interpret the meaning of his jargon.

Lord Sugar asked him to explain his business plan. “My business plan. My strategy. Different. Very different. Bottom up,” Edward answered.

“Cut the crap,” Sugar replied. “I asked a simple, bloody question.”

As the exchanges continued, it was clear that Edward’s communication skills were as effective with Lord Sugar as they had been with his fellow team members during the task.

“You were trained at one of the leading accountancy firms in the country,” continued his Lordship.

“Don’t fit the mould.”

“I didn’t ask you that question,” continued Lord Sugar. “You’d have had insight and vision into how companies are run because you audited them a couple of times.”

“It’s all there…”

“Will you stop talking me in semaphore. Will you just answer me properly…”

The result of episode one was turning into a foregone conclusion. One of the other candidates had pointed out in the boardroom that Edward had tried to deny his innate accountanthood, which Lord Sugar recognised as a key failing.

“Basic, simple mathematics is what you do all day long for a day job. And yet what you done is say, ‘I don’t want to use my accountancy skills. I want to show I can do something else.’ That’s nonsense,” he said.

As he pointed him towards the door, Lord Sugar added, “Just learn from this Edward. There’s no shame in you being an accountant. Don’t ever run yourself down as far as that’s concerned.”

For once the budget electronics magnate talked some sense, but in doing so he dashed hopes of a long and engaging series for Team Accountancy. There was hardly time to get to know Edward before he was gone. At least there’s another episode tonight. Perhaps it might be worth watching just to imagine what might have been...


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Replies (14)

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By Becky Midgley
11th May 2011 12:28

Slippery slope

So, not only did you watch The Apprentice but you turned over to watch You're Fired as well!  That's it John, say goodbye to the next 11 Wednesdays, you are officially hooked.

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By ladylaff
11th May 2011 12:31

Where's the Logic in that team?

Hilarious, loved your post John.  I hope you keep blogging about the Apprentice and I look forward to the next instalment of 'Fawlty Logic' - ha ha.

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By FirstTab
11th May 2011 15:06

I will start watching now

i feel left out since I do not watch the Apprentice. I will catchup on Iplayer and start watching on Wednesdays now.

I think I am missing out on Sugar's business lessons.

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11th May 2011 15:49

You got off lightly, John

One of my first stereo amplifier was a Sugar design, back in 1969 or 1970, not sure which year, and the only thing of any interest it performed was to blow up on me ... but probably in stereo! I migrated to a Rogers Ravensbrook which probably still works, if only I could find it (yes, lost in the space between worlds, which most normal people call the attic). -- KH

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By dwgw
11th May 2011 16:50

Never mind Edward ...

Was I the only person to raise an eyebrow when Sugar described himself as "an expert in electronics" who could see things in an electronics factory that no-one else would?  Or did I detect a collective choking of ex-Amstrad product owners at that point?

Perhaps he meant he could see how to make the cheapest possible version of a product and keep it just the right side of workable, at least for a month or so.


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the sea otter
By memyself-eye
11th May 2011 16:54

my amstrad played 'battle chess'

Now I run Quickbooks on it.....

Not sure I like the monica "Lord Sugar" as I think "S-rallun" was more grovelling. Let's hope tonight's lamb to the slaughter has no qualifications in finance- come to think of it did last night's?

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By carnmores
11th May 2011 17:22

er selective memory again John?

AS' early products were ground breaking , hard as it is to believe now - the emailer was not any good agreed - it was the forerunner of email on todays mobiles tho,

AS would probably agree that his greatest error was not continuing in the computing business; he did however own Viglen and they did make excellent computers - tho if you look at their web site now you may think that they went a little off beam.

the foundation of his current fortune is property - he bought against advice  a building almost on the A40 for £500k if my memory is correct and he has had nearly 20 times back in rent .

anyway enuf rambling

btw ... the apprentice .... its television and meant to entertain .... that idiot was chosen for a reason

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By Vaughan Blake
11th May 2011 17:31

But not business as we know it Jim!

I have watched most episodes of each series of The Apprentice.  Increasingly it seems the lesson is lost in the hype and backbiting.  Anyone starting in business can learn a few very basic business lessons here, mainly:

The idea is to make a profit,

Everything's negotiable,

The simpler the better,

Ultimately it's not about how good you are but about how good the opposition is.

You can't help but feel that any serious "entrepreneur" wouldn't go near the show.  Still good telly though!


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By paulwakefield1
12th May 2011 08:13

I think

that calling the PCW a fiasco is a little harsh. It was the first computer that really brought home comupting to the masses. And I have to say mine was totally reliable for years. Of course it got superceded by advances in technology and AS bet on the wrong disk size but it was good product in its day.

Now Amstrad "HiFi" -  a different story.  :-)

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By cymraeg_draig
12th May 2011 09:32

Only fools & horses

Was I the only person to raise an eyebrow when Sugar described himself as "an expert in electronics" who could see things in an electronics factory that no-one else would? Or did I detect a collective choking of ex-Amstrad product owners at that point?



Posted by dwgw on Wed, 11/05/2011 - 16:50


Whenever I see Alan Sugar I immediately think of yellow reliant robins, mock sheepskin coats, and lots of cheap jewellery.

I really wonder how Del Boy (sorry "Lord" Sugar) got his own TV series.



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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
12th May 2011 10:05

Thanks for all the feedback

...particularly about vintage electronics and computers. I reckon there will be a thread in the Born Dull?! forum on that before very long. Just to answer the accusations of unfairness and selective memory - I'm guilty as charged. Aren't we all? If our Amstrad stereo had worked, I might have been more forgiving, as I remember we only paid £15 for it.

The PCW saga was more mixed. I know a lot of people who got one when they first came out. For a certain generation of journalist, they were the first affordable system for basic word processing. But they also seemed to be the first machines to be replaced when more alluring Macs and cheaper PCs came along - I still have an image of PCWs lying unused in the corners of several offices I worked at.

Meanwhile, the Edward Hunter phenomenon continues to snowball in spite of his rapid departure. There's an Any Answers thread discussing his performance as well as another in the Born Dull?! discussion group. Mark Lee has had his say on his Accountant jokes and fun blog and there's a follow up interview with Edward on Digital Spy. He is such a bizarre character that he will be sadly missed.

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By telfordaca
13th May 2011 14:26

Which one of the big 4?

I notice that none of the big 4 have step forward to claim Edward as one of their's.

Does anyone know who he trained with?

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By Ermintrude
13th May 2011 17:41

The boys were "Juicing their fruit by hand"?

Sounds a bit rude, fnar fnar

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By taylorag
24th May 2011 17:29

Who trained him?

Step forward, PWC (according to my source)

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