David Parkin on The Apprentice, football fame, rugby woe and Blanc expressions

I THOUGHT I recognised one face among the eager bunch who make up the latest intake on BBC TV show The Apprentice.

Ruth Whiteley is the oldest of this year’s candidates at 47 and has a forceful enough personality to either win her tasks and impress Lord Sugar enough for him to invest £250,000 into her business venture, or to annoy him so much that he boots her out early on.

The Harrogate-based sales training consultant turned up in the first episode wearing what looked like Joseph’s Technicolour Dreamcoat and even admitted in her audition video that she is “a bit gushing” and his beardy Lordship might find her a trifle “over-zealous”.

He has a history of chucking out gobby women.

I doubt he was first in the queue at the Hackney Odeon to see the new film Suffragette.

I met Ruth when she and two colleagues came into TheBusinessDesk.com a few years ago to give our sales team some training.

Sales people are a difficult bunch to manage and so I sat in on the session but quickly became the referee as our sales team decided they didn’t need any advice and the trainers suggested they needed plenty.

I couldn’t argue with Ruth’s enthusiasm – she had it in buckets.

She came up with the word gushing to describe her approach and listening in to one of her sales cold calls I felt sorry for the person at the other end, soaked in false bonhomie.

I’m sure that approach works for certain businesses, but I always knew that the key to successful sales for a media business was in the consultative, face-to-face approach.

The sales team clearly objected to being trained and said they had never been more insulted.

It didn’t take long for them to receive an even bigger slight.

When a new non-executive director questioned them about the lack of new leads, they said they hadn’t been given anything to generate these leads.

He threw a copy of the Yellow Pages onto the desk, said: “Try that” and walked out of the office.

Leaving me to deal with the uproar that followed and which almost certainly qualified me to join the UN’s peacekeeping efforts.


IT was great to see that Leeds United legend Norman Hunter was inducted into the football Hall of Fame this week.

Given that our original lunch with Norman had to be postponed until November 5, because of a bereavement to one of Norman’s friends, it is nice that I’ll be able to discuss this honour – bestowed by the National Football Museum – with him at the Foundry next month.

He joins former team mates Jack Charlton, Billy Bremner, Eddie Gray and Johnny Giles in the prestigious Hall of Fame, fitting reward for a career in which he played 726 times for Leeds and won a cabinet full of silverware.

I saw that Norman was inducted alongside former Manchester United full-back Gary Neville and ex-England defender Stuart Pearce. Paul McGrath and Alan Mullery at a special ceremony.

What a five-a-side team they would have made. They wouldn’t score many goals, but you wouldn’t get any past them and your legs would bear the scars of trying to.

Given the change of date for the lunch at the Foundry wine bar in Leeds on November 5, we’ve got a couple of spaces left should you fancy joining us.

Email me at david@copasummit.com if you are interested.


IT has happened plenty of times with the England football team, but the nation’s rugby team failing to make the qualifying stages of the Rugby World Cup it is hosting has caused plenty of surprise and disappointment.

I received a call from corporate financier Jonathan Lawson-Brown who has a pair of tickets to both this weekend’s quarter finals involving Wales and Scotland.

Clearly JLB, like most fans and pundits, had thought England would be in one of them.

Now, as coach Stuart Lancaster contemplates his future, English rugby fans are left with the challenge of whether to back one of the other home nations or plump for a team from the southern hemisphere.

Given that a host nation of the Rugby World Cup has never not made it out of the group stage of the tournament, you can imagine the confidence of the organisers in putting prices of over £200 on tickets and £1,100-plus for corporate hospitality.

But with no England in the quarter finals, it means that the big City spenders are not snapping up tickets and there aren’t enough Scots and Welsh (or Jocks and Taffs as JLB puts it) willing to shell out the cash to make the trip to Twickenham.

So it is not just the fans who have been disappointed, I’d imagine the tournament organisers are counting the cost too.

Should you be interested in taking the tickets then email Jonathan at jonathan@riseholm.co.uk

Selling them might just ease his own disappointment a tiny bit.


MY days as a lounge lizard are certainly over given that many of the invitations I used to receive when working in the media, have now dried up.

There are some benefits.

I don’t have to lose the will to live at Leeds Business Week events, for one.

However the odd decent invite sometimes drops into the inbox.

That’s when I forget trying to be laid-back about an invitation and I’m like a rat up a drainpipe.

Fiona Movley-Armitage invited me along to a do at Brasserie Blanc in Leeds last week.

The restaurant, which, for those with long memories, is in the property that once housed the popular Leodis, has had a rejig and the bar and main entrance is now at the far end next to its balcony overlooking the River Aire.

I didn’t know too many guests at the event but one of the waitresses, who used to work at La Grillade, said she hadn’t seen me in Brasserie Blanc.

I explained that now La Grillade has shut, I can starting going to other French restaurants again without getting grief from Guy Martin-Laval.

Making my way to the bar, I immediately bumped into Sarah True, who was working with Fiona on the event.

Sarah, now a freelance, was once head of public relations at Morrisons and I’m sure can tell a few tales about working with Sir Ken when the chain bought the much larger Safeway group.

Then I was introduced to antique jewellery expert Susan Rumfitt, who runs her own jewellery business in Harrogate and also appears regularly on Antiques Roadshow assessing and valuing vintage items.

I was ashamed to admit to Susan that I’m not a regular watcher of Antiques Roadshow.

I think she worked that out when I asked if it is still presented by Arthur Negus.

Have a great weekend.

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