One of the real pleasures of BBC’s Apprentice is seeing the characters develop over the weeks.
Perhaps the most striking character so far has been Jim Eastwood. Jim has many of us under his spell. Well, he had us anyway. His card was marked in the “Pet Food” episode. After the “Freemium” episode things took a further turn for the worse!
Make no mistake Jim has the smoothest delivery I’ve met. I’d buy from him. Jim could sell his own grandmother. He seems to have a convincing combination of gentle Irish lilt, quick wit and a silken turn of phrase.
That’s fine as far as selling is concerned. He’d get the job most times.
The trouble is he needs a whole lot more to win The Apprentice, and in this week’s task to create a free magazine, he was the project manager.
Strictly speaking, the task was to sell advertising space and Jim misjudged the whole issue by not discounting the rate card. No-one pays the full price. No discount, no sale.
Perhaps he thought his magazine for the untapped elderly market, “Hip Replacement” would be so good the potential buyers would be vying for space.
It wasn’t and they didn’t! For starters the title was so deeply bad that words fail me!
“What do we know about selling to the over 60s market?” they cried. Actually they did ok, bar the title, and made some sales, but were trounced by Natasha’s team selling space in a dated lads’ mag concept.
Jim’s skills were now tested far more robustly, in the Boardroom.
People I talk to have started not to like Jim anymore. In the early rounds his blarney did the trick, but we are a fickle lot and switch allegiance.
Karren Brady described him as “passive aggressive”.
On The Apprentice: You’re Fired episode 7 he was described as “sinister” and “evil”. To be fair this was perhaps in jest. But there is sense in which we do set ourselves against someone quite rapidly once we spot something we are unhappy with.
Each of us has a “phony meter”, like antennae which alert us to the dark side in another.
My contention is that we are much more sensitive when we based the original decision to like someone on less than concrete data.
We buy emotionally and equally reject emotionally. And Jim had little to back up his blarney. When someone has delivered solidly or has an impressive CV then most of us anchor our opinion in this first and are slower to reject.
Reason overcomes emotion, but only up to a point.
Jim has had two bruising encounters in the Boardroom where Lord Sugar has exposed his flaws. He was let off this time, but I don’t think he will get a third chance if he finds himself in the final three.
Smooth-talking is never enough. With the triumvirate of Lord Sugar, Karren Brady and Nick Hewer spotting every trick, Jim needs to do something right, like winning the task.