A level of pretentiousness that never fails to astound

IT'S autumn. I've spent my evenings watching a bunch of people I wouldn't want to ever work with (for the most part) arguing and trying to look like they, above everyone else, knows what they're doing. In can only mean one thing... The Apprentice is back on the TV. Week one, and we we've already had three people fired. 

The Apprentice wannabees - for henceforth to be known as the Sugarbabes - never fail to disappoint. Their level of ineptitude on occasion is astounding.

Week one and the Sugarbabes were given the task of selling a load of stuff. Simple as that. There was sausages, T-shirts, potatoes and various other bits and pieces, including about £200 worth of cleaning equipment. Cut to scene where the girls' team - who chose the incredible name of Team Decadence, which Sir Alan rightly pointed out didn't really give the right impression - for some reason chose to try and sell the cleaning equipment to London Zoo.

Now, if I was ever in the position where I had a load of sponges, wipes, cloths, mops and buckets - and given just 48 hours to sell it - the zoo would be very far down my list of potential buyers. Car garages. Yes. Cleaning companies. Yes. Hotels. Yes. Taxi companies. Yes. Dudley Zoo.... er no. What were they expecting, that the zoo staff would get a couple of hundred quid out of the tills to pay for a few dishcloths in order to rub down the elephants?

And then we got the men's team spending a fortune, and wasting loads of time, on ingredients to turn the sausages into 'gourmet hot-dogs'. Gourmet flipping hot-dogs.... I'd pay an extra pound to not have it liberally pasted with artichoke guacamole or whatever it was they decided constituted gourmet. Result, they missed 'lunchtime' sales...

And these are people who, according to their CVs, are experts in sales, marketing gurus or business leaders of the future. Their level of pretentiousness is always incredible. I know it's the BBC sound-bites that are chosen to make them look so, but when you hear them at the start of the show spouting about how they're the best thing since sliced bread (which always strikes me as a strange saying, bearing in mind all the things invented since sliced bread) you end up willing them to fail. 

Day two of the week-one double-header, and we see the Sugarbabes set the task of inventing and selling some 'wearable technology'. And what do the boys' team invent, a jumper with a camera on the front... how sinister is that? How happy would you be if you were out and about and someone's jumper was videoing you? It's the sort of thing riot police might wear in order to gather evidence. It's not the sort of thing you'd wear in the park unless you wanted an unwanted reputation.

As for the girls' team, I watched incredulous as they actually debated whether a solar panel could be covered up and still work. I repeat, 'could a solar panel be covered up by layers of fabric and still work?' How exactly did they think a solar panel works? Do people ever put them under their homes, covered by bricks and mortar, or on the roof?

Still, say what you like about The Apprentice, it makes good TV, if only for Nick Hewer's facial expressions in the background. If I was a candidate I'd just watch him, and every time he grimaced I'd know it was a bad move.

MARK LINGARD, MARKETING 

The cut-throat world of meat journalism...

Something grabbed my attention this week... and it was the very last page of Meat Management magazine and a column called And another thing.... by Mike Britain. Now, two things bothered me about this column. The first is the name, it's quite possibly the most cliched, uninspired name for a column possible, they may as well have just called it And finally...and be done with. The other was the content of a piece entitled Do You Know Where? Claim A £50.00 Reward.

He begins "I enjoy a good mystery". Well, so do I, particularly when either Sherlock Holmes or Scooby Doo are involved, so lets read on. "I saw a story published in the weekly Meat Management Newsletter about the annual directory Who's Who in Meat, I followed up to try and obtain a copy." Now firstly, drop the charade, of course you saw this story, I assume you also probably wrote it or edited it. No-one's fooled. He continues "My efforts came to nothing. The directory which is published by Meat Trades Journal is still listed on its website, as it is on the William Reed website (the owner of MTJ). However, actually trying to buy one is harder than trying to get a drink out of my own esteemed published!"

Another dreadful columnist cliche, trying to make your 'management' sound like the worst employers in the world, a tight-fisted figure of supposed loathing, when he's probably a really nice man/woman who always busy the first round. What he actually meant was 'actually trying to buy one is harder than thinking up an original metaphor'. 

He continues "Talking of our publisher, I gather he wrote to William Reed to ask if the Who's Who in Meat publication had ceased publication, to be informed that 'you misunderstand'. That's as much information as we have. So here is my challenge: any reader that can buy the 2014 edition of Who's Who in Meat can claim a £50.00 reward from me, plus the purchase price (which I think was around £48.00). And while you're at it send me the 2013 version which also seems to be missing and will give you another £50." 

It's all getting a bit Jeremy Kyle here. Proper bitching. It's theYou Said You Made a Who's Who In Meat, Prove It show. Bring on the DNA test...

He finishes off my writing: "According to the editor of Meat Trades Journal, Ed Beddington, when writing in the 2012 edition, the Who's Who in Meat publication is a leading directory providing comprehensive compilation of all the key businesses and organisations you need to know. Therefore I am surprised that I just can't get one."

"To see the story go to www.meatmanagement.com and search for William Reed." And so I did. And now we get to the real reason for this supposed story. 

We now discover that the whole piece is a sales plug for their own Meat Contacts directory.

In this story, Pamela Brook, the editor of Meat Management, comments: “It seems clear that the long established Who’s Who In Meat has not been published this year and may not have done so in 2013 either. In my personal opinion it seems unlikely to make an appearance again. The simple fact is that since the launch of our own Meat Contacts directory in December 2009 the market has changed considerably. With many more pages and a much bigger circulation offered by Meat Contacts I have always felt it was only a matter of time before we saw the market change. If Who’s Who in Meat is still publishing surely all William Reed have to do is say so. We would happily buy a copy!"

Okay, at this point I should tell you that I was a journalist for 11 years before joining Sirane. And I ask you this.... whatever happened to the journalist's chivalric code? It's one thing having a pop at your rivals in the privacy of your own office, it's quite another committing your thoughts to print under the unconvincing guise of a story. It's the meat press equivalent of 'You're Not Singing Any More.' And it's the sort of dangerous game that is just bound to bite you back at some point.

News is supposed to be news. Unless they've gone out of business, the business of another trade magazine should not constitute a news story. It's not news, it's just bitching. I often had opinions on what the other papers were doing. I never wrote about them, and was even careful who I discussed them with. Grudges can be held a long time.  

Pamela Brook then adds: “At Yandell Publishing we firmly believe that Meat Contacts is by far the best directory of its type in the UK meat market and not only offers a print version but is also available online throughout the year – something Who’s Who in Meat did not offer.” Yes, of course you think it is the best, you publish it, no publisher in their right mind is going to say anything different. But I, for one, think this whole story is, well..... somehow not cricket.

To sum up this story, it's this. We produce a directory that we think's bigger and better than anyone else, ha ha. Is meat journalism really this cut throat?  

Part of me hopes that absolutely loads of readers have a copy, and all send them to this Mike Britain chap. Along with the 2013 copy - which I'm sure we've got somewhere in the office by the way. It'll cost him a fortune, and if he doesn't pay up it'll make a great story for the Meat Trades Journal to get stuck into. 

MARK LINGARD, MARKETING

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