The Apprentice Blog: Expert opinions from those in the know (Week 11)
Fri, 1 Jun 2012
Our two former Apprentice contenders – Ellie Reed and Natasha Scribbins – blog on this year’s series of The Apprentice. With Scribbins now working in the Cayman Islands, Reed is manning the ship for the final two episodes
Her blog starts below the ad:
With the final approaching fast, the heat is on and the remaining five wake early to prepare for battle. Tom is sent over to join Ricky on Sterling, whilst Adam, Jade and Nick remain on Phoenix. Lord Sugar appoints Adam to lead Phoenix, and Tom accepts Ricky as project manager (PM) for Sterling. The challenge is to develop a luxury product range at affordable prices. They have to create a range, display it in a sample shop and then present their ideas to a number of influential guests, including Lord Sugar himself. Phoenix plump for confectionary, whilst Sterling go for male grooming (both Ricky and Tom are well presented and thoroughly moisturised, so it’s a subject close to their hearts).
Tom’s sold on the concept of an old school luxury men’s salon and decides that their range, ‘Modern Gentleman’, should be subtle, classy and manly, so he goes for a logo in… grey. He then joins forces with Ricky to paint the shop… grey. Their range purely focuses on men’s facial products and they sparingly display them on the shelves to give an air of luxury and expense. Meanwhile, on Phoenix Adam’s really sold on the jellies – he just loves them! Along with marshmallows, hot chocolate and biscuits, their range is somewhat incoherent. However, Jade cracks on to a winner by suggesting they put alcohol in the jellies and giving away complimentary cocktails at their opening of ‘Sweet Thing’.
The next day their sample shops are open and after an hour on the booze and plenty of gorgeous treats to nibble there’s a party going on at ‘Sweet Thing’ and Adam’s in his element. In general, the sample group (with a few of Lord Sugar’s ‘influentials’ thrown in) are impressed. They love the shop, the products, the name and the cocktails – good feedback for ‘Sweet Thing’.
The sample group head over to ‘Modern Gentleman’ where it’s a much more sober affair – mainly because everything is grey. Ricky and Tom have been freshly shaven and Ricky takes a not very willing undercover ‘influential’ over to the barber’s chair where he forces a close shave on him. The sample group are nonplussed by the product but are impressed by Ricky and Tom’s selling of the concept.
It’s the day of the presentation. Ricky and Tom (Sterling) go first with a very clear and concise pitch talking about why they picked the range, who they are aiming it at and outline their very well thought out pricing structure. Lord Sugar and Co are impressed by their pitch but all agree their range is boring and that their shop had lacked atmosphere.
Then it’s over to Adam, Jade and Nick (Phoenix). Jade leads with an enthusiastic and excited pitch followed by Adam whose nerves unfortunately get the better of him. Palms sweating, he tries to keep calm by speaking very slowly and pausing between words – “ideal for Christmas… birthdays… valentines… and Easter”. Although their products tasted great and their shop looked good their range wasn’t coherent enough, and their pitch and Q&A were poor.
As usual it’s all up in the air in the boardroom but Lord Sugar decides that although the luxury men’s range was a bit boring, the thought process, research and presentation were much better so he crowns them the winners. Ricky ‘recruiter’ Martin is through to the finals! However this means my other fave Adam is looking worryingly likely for the firing line. Lord Sugar chews through each one’s pros and cons and eventually fires Adam, although he compliments him on his enthusiasm and drive and wishes him well. It’s a shame as Adam made the show for me in terms of demonstrating excellent sales techniques, as well as being down to earth and funny.
Anyway next week it’s the finals. Go Ricky Martin – I’m a big fan. I never thought I would utter those words!
Ellie Reed, who previously to appearing in last year’s series was a senior consultant with Beresford Blake Thomas, founded and now runs her own rec-to-rec business – Ellie Reed Consulting – in West Yorkshire and is also involved in motivational speaking in schools.
Natasha Scribbins made it to the final five contestants on last year’s Apprentice and is now working in the Cayman Islands in recruitment. She was previously group operations director EMEA at engineering recruiter Find the Engineer and rec-to-rec firm We are Recruitment. Both enterprises encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of recruitment by hiring consultants to work as associates.