The Apprentice 2013 – The Result

The Apprentice 2013 – The Result

Apprentice winner, Leah Totton. Courtesy of BBC

Apprentice winner, Leah Totton. Courtesy of BBC

In the end, Lord Sugar surprised us with the brave choice of Leah Totton as his business partner. Brave, not because of Leah herself, but because her idea of aesthetic clinics takes Lord Sugar into unknown territory. The safer option would have been Luisa’s baking wholesale brand. This decision will be seen as just  reward for Luisa who was, frankly, awful for long stretches of this season. Yes, she did improve as the series went on, but when she was bad she was rotten. This possibly accounted for why Luisa only got Neil as her first choice team member ,where as Leah got all of her first choices. I for one am pleased that she lost.

Having said that, we saw a different side to Leah, who so determined and set on getting her way, that she almost ignored good advice from her team around her brand name.

Leah was very clear in her business proposal, and had researched the market thoroughly. She may be new to business, but she has the clinical credibility to see it through. Don’t be surprised to see Lord Sugar get his wish and Leah become not only the face, but the name of her business. “NIKS” could easily become “Dr Leah”. Not only does she have professional credibility, but she is photogenic.

It is probably Leah’s passion and conviction, backed up with solid numbers (something that Luisa was a little vague on) that helped to convince Sugar to go with the aesthetics business. One other factor was Luisa’s vagueness about what would happen to her 3 other businesses. Sugar may be recruiting a business partner, rather than a member of staff, but he expects 100% of their attention in return for his £250K.

It will be interesting to see how this business idea progresses, but don’t be surprised to see The Baker’s Toolkit also become successful, with alternative investors.

The Apprentice Week 11 – Final Interview

lord-sugar4The Apprentice Week 11 – Final Interview

So we now know that the winner of this year’s Apprentice will be female. Luisa and Leah will contest next week’s final to become Lord Sugar’s Business Partner.

This week the candidates were interviewed by 4 of Lord Sugars’s most trusted advisers; Margaret Mountford, Claude Littner, Claudine Collings, Mike Suter. It is their job to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

The process is great to watch, but must have been tough to go through, and in the end it comes down to how strong the business idea is.

In the Boardroom, Jordan is quickly dispensed with because he does not own his business idea (in keeping with his experience as a Business Analyst). Next to be fired is Neil, the most consistent performer in the series. His plan involves an online Estate Agency, but when it is pointed out that his plan has a fatal flaw in it and he refuses to see it, he is fired. It is with genuine regret that Sugar lets hime go.

Francesca fails because of the (lack of) numbers in her business plan. She has run 3 successful businesses, but couldn’t give Claude the turnover. Nor could she justify her business projections for the proposed new business. So she was fired.

That leaves the final to be contested by Luisa, who has a new baking brand business idea and Leah who has a well researched idea for affordable cosmetic surgery. It is no surprise that Luisa is in the final, as she has the drive and has smoothed off her rough edges in recent weeks. In the clips we saw she came across as confident and assertive, and kept her frustration in check. Leah has little experience, but a well thought out idea. Both produced poor plans, but came across well face to face.

In the end it was the correct decision. Both are strong candidates, and it will be a great final. The only disappointment for Lord Sugar is Neil not being there. In the earlier series of tHe apprentice, Neil would have won and made a good employee. Without a solid business plan he had to go.

May the best woman win.

The Apprentice Week 10 – Girls on Top

The Apprentice Week 10 – Girls on Top

courtesy of BBC

courtesy of BBC

This week’s task in The Apprentice saw the 6 remaining candidates back in gender team. The task itself was one of Sugar’s favourites, as it replicates his own early success; both teams are given £150 to invest in stock and maximise the return by selling first on a market stall and then in a shop.

For the boys, Myles pips Jordan to be PM, with Luisa’s experience in retail winning out over Francesca. There was an immediate contrast in approach, with Luisa clear in her strategy (“stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap”) and her choice of items (fashion). This allowed the girls to start sourcing their items and checking out the market stall pitch immediately.

Myles proved to be indecisive, or maybe out of his depth, and the clear teamwork seen with the girls was missing. The lack of decisiveness led to a delay in getting out to source items. Perhaps not surprisingly, Myles decided to go for luxury items (which he has experience in marketing) for a market stall in Shoreditc! Even his team wasn’t convinced.

At the market place, Luisa blossomed, and the strategy and general choice of items resulted in a steady stream of sales. They reinvested the stock wisely and had enough of it to fill out the shop on day 2. The boys ended up with 16 ceramic novelties priced at £20 up. Their sales were slow, but it was Neil who again managed to pull in the most. An alternative line of greetings cards didn’t sell, so Jordan tried to offload them to local shops, with no success. Myles strategy and products were a mess. They sold so little on the market that they couldn’t fill a quarter of their shop, so they converted it to a makeshift market stall, using the doorway.

Neil suggested a high risk strategy to invest and sell a high ticket item. Unfortunately, the novelty vase that Jordan came back with impressed neither his teammates or the customers and it also didn’t sell.

In the boardroom, it was no surprise that the boys lost. Neil was in the best position to survive, due to his sales, but Sugar (ignoring his previous success as pm) labeled him a One Trick Pony. Jordan had been completely ineffective, but it was Myles who had to go, especially after last week’s lucky escape.

What was surprising, was that each of the boys outlined their business proposal to Sugar, and none of them was inspiring. Jordan, in particular, is unlikely to get past next week as his App idea requires an IT person as a 3rd partner. Sugar will not go for this.

So, its taken a long time, but the girls, and Luisa in particular, came good. If her business proposal is a Retail one, Sugar may be prepared to put aside her obnoxious behaviour in earlier tasks and take her on as a partner.