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The Apprentice 2018 Round-Up

This week, the latest series of The Apprentice wrapped up on the BBC. Lord Sugar was once again looking for the best candidate with whom he would start a business and invest £250,000. The series began with a bang with the candidates being whisked off to Malta for their first task and continued to be a lively and fascinating watch throughout its run. Here at Koncept, we have compiled our round-up of The Apprentice 2018 – our favourite task, candidate, most shocking exit and biggest blunder. Finally, we discuss what can be learned from The Apprentice as a business owner.

Favourite Task

It’s always fantastic when the candidates are taken outside of their comfort zone. The loud personalities, the pressure put upon them to beat the other team and unfamiliarity with the task at hand makes for outrageously entertaining television. This year, the Urban Gardening task had us cackling, scratching our heads and shouting at the TV in equal measure. The candidates were tasked with running an Urban Gardening service in London where they had to both secure their own jobs as well as impress a corporate client laid on for them by Lord Sugar. The measure of their success was not only profit but client satisfaction, which is where some of the candidates went horribly wrong. Team Typhoon focused on profit alone, and their showing at the corporate job transforming a roof garden was appalling.

The client understandably drastically cut their fee and this in addition to their poor performance with local clients landed them the loss. Team Collaborative managed to strike a better balance – they used mid-range materials and focused on trying to provide the wow factor and, although their corporate client wasn’t bowled over, they did enough to beat the other team in terms of sales and commissions.

This was our favourite task because it tested the candidates in a key business attribute: good customer service. It’s crucially important to understand your customer and their needs. You can have the best product in the world, but if you haven’t understood and delivered what your customer wanted and needed and if, along the way, you haven’t been open and communicative, it’s highly unlikely that business will be repeated.


Favourite Candidate

There were many stand-out candidates in 2018 and for a variety of reasons. Jackie Fast, a Canadian sponsorship consultant, quickly made a name for herself as bossy and difficult to work with. However, her aptitude for sales and relationship building saw her as a favourite for the finals until she was fired in week 9.

Kurran Pooni, a law graduate and budding actor, made it to week 6 of the process without having taken on the mantle of project manager. He came across as slightly useless, and this was confirmed during the airline advertising task where he leads the team that named their budget airline ‘Jet Pop,’ which was naive at best, outrageously ignorant at worst.

While these candidates made a splash, our favourite of the series was tennis events company owner Sabrina Stocker. Making it as far as the interview rounds, Sabrina consistently demonstrated good business acumen and the ability to stay calm under pressure. She was the only candidate to win two tasks while project manager and she maintained her dignity when many other candidates accused her of being difficult to work with. Often times when the accusations were made Sabrina had made an attempt to register an opinion that the project manager didn’t like. We thought it was understandable that Lord Sugar chose to fire her; her business plan was not the one with the most potential, but as a candidate, we felt that Sabrina was a great all rounder and look forward to following her career going forward.


Most Shocking Exit

Everyone’s the same when watching Apprentice, waiting with bated breath every week to see if there’ll be a double or triple firing. The 2017 series saw the most shocking boardroom ever with three candidates fired in one go, utterly shocking the nation. This series of Apprentice had fewer candidates, returning to 16 instead of the 18 that had been usual in the most recent years, and so the likelihood of multiple chops was much less. However, Lord Sugar did treat us to a moment of drama when it came time for tree surgery firm owner Tom Bunday to exit the process.

Tom was project manager for his team in both week three, the doughnut task, and week 7, the urban gardening task. The team lost on both occasions with Tom surviving by the skin of his teeth in week 7 after an impassioned plea to Lord Sugar to keep him in the process. Week 9 saw the TV selling task and Tom was out to prove himself. However, after a hilariously awkward, painful and charismatically void performance on the live selling, his team sadly lost. After the sad news is delivered, Lord Sugar wastes no time in calling Tom out, firing him immediately in front of all the other candidates! The writing was on the wall, but his exit was certainly one to remember.


Biggest Blunder

Week 10 saw the candidates tasked with creating, branding and pitching a new range Christmas chocolates. The team who garnered the most orders from the various retailers they pitched to would win. Nut milk producer Camilla Ainsworth took the helm for Team Typhoon, alongside lifestyle brand owner Daniel Elahi and solicitor Sarah Ann Magson.

This is our pick for the series’ biggest blunder due to the myriad of bad decisions made by the team, along with some pretty terrible dancing! The team began with the relatively logical idea of creating their product to target the ‘secret Santa’ market, namely office workers looking for cheap, cheeky gifts for their colleagues for Christmas. Team leader Camilla didn’t seem to understand how to walk the line between cheeky and sleazy and their chocolates, named Santa’s Choco Seduction, gave off the air of an adult toy rather than a chocolate treat. Sarah Ann, charged with producing the chocolate, ended up drinking a large quantity of the alcohol laid on and forgot to weigh her ingredients. The resulting chocolate tasted nothing of Christmas due to her having to guess the correct quantities. During their pitch, they decided to perform a dance, much to the chagrin of the retailers, and all of this ended up in them achieving hardly any orders. A sad Christmas tale indeed.


What Can A Business Owner Learn From The Apprentice?

So what lessons can we learn from this series? The Apprentice demonstrates to us a microcosm of business ownership on a weekly basis, and the mistakes made by the candidates, while they may seem obvious and stupid to us when we’re watching the show, can be easy to make in real life.

It’s clear learning to be an effective leader is crucial. Having the ability to get your team to a place where they are all motivated and working towards the same set of goals with a clear methodology in their mind is no easy feat. Similarly, it’s important to listen to people who may be working under you as they will inevitably see things from a different perspective, and this could lead to ideas formulating that you may not have thought of. In the urban gardening task, if Tom had listened to his team and heeded their suggestions to spend more money, rather than blindly following his own agenda, the corporate client may have been more impressed and consequently paid more.

Knowing your market and audience is also key. The decision to name a budget airline ‘Jet Pop,’ or to market chocolates sordidly would hopefully never leave the drawing board in a real business, but key mistakes can be made when businesses do not thoroughly research their market and the consumers they are trying to target. It could be confidently argued that in the shoe design challenge, the shoe made by the losing team was more fashion-forward, and indeed Jackie did manage to achieve good sales, however, a fundamental misunderstanding of the target market lead to the loss.

We hope you enjoyed this year’s series as much as us. If you would like to learn more about how Koncept can help you achieve your business goals, please get in touch today.

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