Alex The Entrepreneur writes that he likes to watch The Apprentice because, like me, he finds himself thinking of so many alternatives to their lame decisions on the show.
Once again the kids are asked to invent a business for a day on the Feb 17th show. They have $5000 to work with and the winner is based on revenue, NOT profit. I am mystified. This is so simple, it's dumb. Psst, hey buddy, pay $4000 to come into my trailer and I'll give you a $5000 plasma TV. Boom, one customer, and $4000 revenue that easily blows away $900 earned by selling manicures. One big ticket item might be hard to move. How about a crate full of iPod minis for $200 each instead of the typical $250?
Not fair? OK then go for talent. Hire an artist like Peter Max for $5000 to work in your rolling art studio. Roll it up to some art auction or art school, have him paint an original oil on canvas and sell it on the spot to the highest bidder. You'd get more than $900 for a pencil sketch on a napkin by some artists. In fact, just sell autographs and pictures with any celebrity you can hire. You can't tell me this is any different than hiring a casting director for $1000.
Even simply selling hot dogs and Coke at a loss would have netted more than $1000 revenue in a day. Make the trailer a little cafe with a takeout window. Undercut every nearby sidewalk vendor or just pay them to go away.
How about selling sweat incidental to the trailer? Start a moving service. Move an office across town or even a nearby state. Sure, the business uses the trailer but the real value is 6-7 people who will pack and move everything for you.
For goodness sake, spend some money on promotion. Buy some radio spots to advertise your casting call or at least call some radio stations and try to get on the air for free. Call some acting schools. Call some talent agents. Call somebody! I'm honestly shocked they were able to find 40 people willing to pay $25 just by grabbing them off the street. At least park the trailer in front of a talent agency. By the way, is anybody else wondering how Net Worth came up with a $991 total when they were selling meetings at $25 a pop?
The problem is that none of these businesses are sustainable. Net Worth won but their revenue ($991) was less than their recurring costs ($1000 salary). Even Magna's concept probably can't sustain the salaries, insurances, fees, gas, promotions, and other recurring costs associated with a mobile spa. If I were Donald, I'd calculate the winner based on rate of return AND I'd factor in the salary of 6-7 people. Nothing else makes sense.
When faced with starting a business, I'm immediately drawn to the highest profit margin ideas. Those are always pornography, gambling, and liquor (or drugs in general). In this task, porn and drugs are probably not legal, so I'd find a way to make the gambling thing work. Setup a mini casino inside the trailer. Pick up people in NY and bus them to Trump's casino in Atlantic city. Use the time on the road to teach people how to play games using professional dealers. Sell it as a Break the Bank run. Either get people to pay for the ride and the coaching or better yet, get the casino to give you a kickback for transporting their high rollers for free. You might get players interested in a new game like craps or baccarat. The casino would love you for it.
By the way, if I was Bren on this task I would have really played the too-close-to-call angle. This hasn't flown with Donald in the past but come on, Net Worth won by 7% or less than 3 customers. That's dumb luck, not skill. It could have easily fallen the other way. As it turns out, Bren did a brilliant job defending himself without my advice. Still, I don't think he will make it to the end. This game favors the quiet performers. Keep your eye on the players that haven't been PM yet and haven't been in the boardroom. Contestants that stick out their neck always regret it.