The Apprentice Final Five Review

Over the past 10 weeks, we’ve seen the candidates cope with selling meatballs to a squirrel, unleash the strange creation that is Groove Train, not being able to sell sauces that are spelt correctly, Duane’s super-punching in a suit, plenty of arguing and mulling about and Adam searching a skip for things to sell. With the semi-final fast approaching, here is a review of the remaining candidates and who is best placed to win?

JADE

For the first few weeks, she went about quietly working well in the background – her design for the babywear in week one was praised. When it came to her time to step up as PM, she mismanaged things, argued with everyone, didn’t listen to anyone and had no coherent plan in place. Last week, she put herself forward as PM again and rectified her past mistakes – she judged the task perfectly and planned well to identify the companies that were suited to her client, as well as negotiating some fantastic deals, such as the discount at The Sanctuary. However, her manner in dealing with others and not listening to her team members is a problem that could cost her. She should make it to the final 4 providing that she has no major disasters this Wednesday. Plus it will be interesting to hear about her plan that will create a whole group of multi-million making companies that she promised…

 

NICK

Nick seems to be a bit of a lucky charmfor the team that he is on, having notched up the most victories so far. Is this due to lucky coincidence or Nick’s talent? I think it is a bit of both. On some occasions he has performed well, such as his stints as PM, where he has shown good leadership skills, can implement a well thought out strategy strongly and possesses the ability to stick to his convictions when challenged. He gets on well with others and seems to have a good head for numbers and business. On other occasions, he doesn’t engage with the task and it appears like he doesn’t put his greatest effort into contributing to the task, such as the exercise class task, where his contribution was zero. He should made make it to the final four, and seeing as he is lucky Nick, he could win.

 

TOM     

Having slowly emerged as the favourite mid series, notching up an impressive stint as PM during the recycling task in which his risky strategy paid off, as well as often talking the most sense and having a strong hand on business matters. Yet since the art task, he has taken a huge step backwards. He started off the art task well, but together with the wine task, his role was awful. He lost sight of the meaning of the tasks and was so focused on his “expert knowledge” that he forgot about the planning, strategy and the end goal of the tasks. Since then, his contribution has been little and he hasn’t been done anything worthy at all. Last week, he didn’t demonstrate good business sense and it seems like he didn’t try at all to secure good deals. Instead he only got a deal on candles…and that was rejected by Keynoir! His actions in the last few weeks belie his credibility as a business partner and I think he is likely to leave this week. If he does make the final, I can’t see him winning.

 

ADAM  

He made himself known as a stupid, sexist and arrogant man with little business talent. Not he is a stupid, comical and arrogant man with little business talent but good at sales. Somehow he has gone from being totally awful and useless to less awful and useless over the course of the show. That being said, he is still awful and useless, never having demonstrated anything that indicates that he will be a good business partner. He is probably likely to go this week, but I still can’t believe he has made it this far though…

 

 

RICKY

Having backed him at the start of the series on account of his name and background, Ricky was touted as the joke candidate, especially as he continued to churn out soundbites such as being a shark of the boardroom and being the “alpha male, the manliest of males”. However, he has proven himself to be a credible candidate: he is good at sales, at ideas, at negotiation and working with others. He was good at being PM despite losing both times but I would attribute this to the weakness of his team members and the insanity of Virgin gyms. He is a well rounder candidate but is prone to making mistakes, although he is capable of pulling off the biggest successes too – last week is evidence of that. I think that he will make it to the final and is a good bet to win.

 

Of course, all of this doesn’t matter as the tasks don’t always show who is the winner. It is all based on the business plan and background, which is why Tom won last year, despite being completely useless in the tasks, and why Helen, possibly the best candidate of the whole series, failed to win, even when trying to propose a second business plan in the last moments of the final (which was bending the rules…although Lord Sugar didn’t pick Tom for his chair plan, which makes the interview stages a bit pointless). So really, the review doesn’t really count for much at all, but in case anyone was interested in my views, hope you enjoyed reading this post!

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The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 7

It’s 5pm and the candidates are lazing around until the phone rings. Stephen answers the call, telling him that cars will be arriving to take them all to a wholesale warehouse in Essex. Cue Essex generalisation from Adam, who is talking about getting a spray tan there. Meanwhile, Jade says that she is not on the show to make friends and has no problem managing people underneath her. Gabrielle utters that no Project Mangers have left. This is all surely a bad sign for Jade, who at the very least should expect to lose.

The task is to use £150 seed money to buy and sell stock, and then to rebuy popular stock to make more profit (the smelling what’s selling task). The team with the greatest value of assets wins. Sugar switches the teams slightly, sending Stephen to Sterling and Laura to Phoenix. He also hints that those who haven’t been PM should considering volunteering this time around. Jade takes that hint and puts herself up for the role, quoting that she is a “born leader”.

On Sterling, Ricky Martin and Nick want the role of PM, but the team vote for Nick. The teams have 2 locations to sell from, and Ricky Martin suggests Romford as it is close to the warehouse. Location sorted, they get to grips with deciding on stock. Stephen proclaims that he could easily sell a beard trimmer for £10. Nick Hewer thinks that Sterling are being efficient.

On Phoenix, Jade is dithering on location. For someone who has quietly impressed for the last 6 weeks, she isn’t proving to be a strong PM. After much deliberating, the team have 10 minutes to buy stock, which includes a vibrating novelty toy. The tan that Sterling opted for (avidly backed by Jenna and Ricky Martin) is dismissed quickly by Laura. Tom states that the product with the highest profit margin is the hot water bottle. Karren thanks God that Tom is thinking about the business side of things, unlike the rest of the team.

Nick and his sub-team appear to be targeting the beauty market, which is a good idea. They have identified a direction in their products compared to the disorganisation of Phoenix, who have bought a wide variety of stock rather haphazardly. Azhar notes that location further away from the warehouse should have more stock, which makes sense, but Jade insists on splitting the stock 50 50. Azhar bemoans that Jade has “no strategy”.

6.30am Day 1. On Sterling, Nick, Jenna and Gabrielle head off to Romford Shopping Centre, and Ricky Martin and Stephen travel to Romford Market. On Phoenix, Tom, Laura and Azhar are going to Ilford Shopping centre, and Adam and Jade are going 15 miles further to Pitsea Market.

At Romford Market, Stephen has come over all “Only Fools and Horses”. He intends to form a double act with Ricky Martin with a “genius” idea of pretending that Stephen has a bad back to sell their super mops. No one seems to take notice apart from amused fellow market traders, and put it this way, Stephen won’t be winning any acting awards for his portrayal as Man With A Bad Back. Surprisingly though, it does manage to ensnare one customer, and Ricky Martin offers her her favourite mop out of 10 of her own choosing. The customer wryly notices that the mops are all the same.

At Romford Shopping Centre, Nick is offering free haircuts for life! Well for £5…for his hair (look at packet) trimmer. Is it not worrying that he has to look at the product to finds out its name when he should know what it is already? Jenna and her fake tan is proving to be a popular choice, and Nick Hewer notes that soon everyone in Essex will have a tan (well if they don’t all have one already).

Sales are slow at Ilford Shopping Centre and Tom, Azhar and Laura are looking bored. At the market, things are going well when Jade decides to slash the prices of everything – not by putting a price number on it, but by using the words “Really Cheap”, like the “Really Cheap” MP3 Speakers. This is her strategy: why use numbers when you can sell it with words. (mind you, if someone offered me really cheap MP3 speakers, I would run a mile…there must be something wrong with them? Why are you selling them really cheap? Why?! Why?!) Adam is proving to be in his element here, bringing in his market trader background (and slimy patter: (to two old ladies) Shout out a number, not your phone number but a price!) and selling well.

In Romford it is raining. Perhaps it is the heaven’s way of punishing Stephen for his bad back story. Ricky Martin suggests coming to the shopping centre. Nick tells Ricky Martin and Stephen to buy more tan. Apprentice Poetry moment: “They want that tan as soon as they can”.

In Ilford it is sunny. Azhar calls Adam and Jade to ask about their strategy. Jade gives a flustered response telling Azhar that they are going to buy more stuff.

Nick and his sub-team are forced to sell their beard trimmers after they have run out of tan. Noooooo. Nick still doesn’t grasp what the product is: Some hair…ermm…(look at packet) clippers. Gabrielle’s approach is to shout out “BEARD TRIMMERS! GET YOUR BEARD TRIMMERS HERE!” at a deafening volume that catches the attention of two old ladies (who don’t need beard trimmers). No one seems to be attracted to the beard trimmers. Think back to when Stephen said that he could easily sell beard trimmers for a tenner (grr…Stephen!). It doesn’t help that most of the customers are women, who are lacking in beards.

At Ilford Shopping Centre, the I-insects are selling well. Tom notes that there is a good margin – bought for 60p and selling them for £2-3. He suggests buying more of these but Jade insists of having a wider variety of stock items. Tom and Laura are not happy. Karren states that Jade is not smelling what is selling.

Ricky Martin and Stephen are stuck in traffic! Nick chimes in a bit of poetry on the phone: “We need as much tan as we can!”. Nick then goes on about how Jenna is the only one who know how to sell tan and can train Ricky and Stephen in the art of selling tan. Ricky Martin asks Stephen: how hard can it be?

On the other team, Azhar is on the phone to Adam and Jade, reeling off a long speech about strategy. I suspect Adam and Jade were falling asleep as they answer with “Thank you bye!” before hanging up. Jade says that Azhar is “annoying”. Aww.

Ricky Martin and Stephen finally reach the warehouse but disaster strikes! There are only 84 bottles of tan left. Nick and Gabrielle are in despair, and Nick makes the agonizing decision to plump for hot water bottles. At Ilford Shopping Centre, Phoenix are going well with their bug things. At Romford it is quiet, as Nick and his sub-team wait for 2 hours without any tan, and are forced to turn away customers. When the tan arrives, Jenna ups the price from £8 to £10. Ricky Martin is annoyed however that he is not selling, as Nick sends Ricky and Stephen to get more stock again.

The two do eventually get to sell. Stephen has an awesome selling style: “Some things in life you can make a decision…it can be good or it can be bad” – this is for the beard trimmer!!!

Time is running out, and Ricky Martin suggests cutting prices to attract more interest, but Nick stands his ground and reject this idea. Jade has different ideas and her mind is focused on sell, sell, sell at really cheap prices. Considering that the results are about assets too, this could be a bad idea. The lower prices can really eat into the numbers.

In the boardroom, Ricky Martin holds his tongue and says that Nick was a good PM and that he didn’t mind wearing fake tan. The fact that Ricky Martin and Stephen didn’t pass on the leftover stock from the market to Nick and his sub-team when they had little to sell is picked up. Nick Hewer isn’t impressed, telling Ricky Martin that he shouldn’t plead that he was too far away to pass the stock on when he was only a few minutes from the shopping centre.

On Phoenix, Adam is praised for his sales, something he can actually claim credit for this time (annoyingly, he wasn’t that annoying or useless this week). Azhar reveals that Jade had no strategy but she was a good organiser. Jade hits back saying that he could have told her this at the time. Azhar assures that did (and he did – a lot!)

Results:
Phoenix made £422.61, had £415.60 of stock giving them a result of £838.20.
Sterling made £681.30, had £273.90 of stock, giving them a result of £955.20 Win

As a reward, Sterling get sent to a cocktail bar with UK Bartender of the Year. Wooooahhh. As the team toast, Stephen remarks that the cocktail “tastes a little bit like Phoenix at the minute. Bitter!” (Oh Stephen!)

I think that Jade should be fired. She has no proper plan implemented and crucially she failed to understand the point of the task in buying and selling. This episode, she has proved to be disappointing as PM, and as we start to see more of her, she comes across as unlikeable, uncooperative and unwilling to listen.

At the café, blame is directed towards Jade, so much so, that Jade even blames herself as PM, but she probably won’t admit this in the boardroom. Adam says that she sold loads and doesn’t worry – he is fine.

Phoenix return to the boardroom and Sugar highlights the lower selling price of the fake tan compared to Sterling, turning his attentions to Tom. Tom says that he relied on Laura and Jade, who know more about the beauty sector that he does, coupled with the fact that Jade lowered prices later on in the day. Jade says that normally, she spends £7 to £10 on a bottle of fake tan, but the warehouse fake tan looked cheap. A bit of a boo boo there Jade.

Sugar then picks up on how more stock was sold at Pitsea market and asks why a higher percentage of stock wasn’t sold there. Jade says she couldn’t have predicted how things would go on the day, backed by Adam, who seems to have become increasingly pally with Jade after criticising her lack of creativity a few weeks ago. Katie who?

Azhar telles Sugar that Pitsea was his idea, as well as having a 70/30 split of the stock in favour of Pitsea, which Jade denies hearing (I heard him!)
Adam and Jade gang up on Azhar, saying that all he did was moan.

Jade decides to bring back Azhar (he “caused a problem”) and Tom (why I am not sure). Even Tom is not sure either (“…even though I made the right decisions…”). Jade squeals, “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO CHOOSE!”, before Sugar instructs her that as team leader, she is responsible for assessing the good and the bad of the task ( this indicates Jade’s weak leadership and inability to make decisions – there is no way that Jade can save herself now!). In the end, she sticks with her initial decision.

Lord Sugar highlights that Jade’s application form states that her worst business skill is her rashness, something that we saw in this ep. Jade admits that she shouldn’t have brought Tom in but felt under pressure to make a decision. Tom defends himself, saying that Adam was a good salesman but other qualities are important too. Jade says that she didn’t prepare to lose, she prepared to win, which is the reason she faltered on deciding who she should bring back to the boardroom. Whether this amounts to a good excuse remains to be seen.

Jade then turns on Azhar, saying that he kept questioning strategy but provided no solution. Tom states that Azhar likes to waffle but he was right about product selection. Jade then tells Sugar that she should stay because she has a brilliant business plan which can produce groups of multi-million making businesses (oh dear). She then rambles on about how amazing she is as a business woman, and has good people skills, unlike Azhar (aw).

Sugar wonders if Azhar is a “moaner” and not a doer. Tom is safe, and Jade is too enthusiastic and Sugar can’t accept Jade bringing back Tom. However, he goes on to say that he admires Jade’s enthusiasm and fires Azhar. Jade doesn’t even bother to say to Azhar outside the boardroom, just walking off. Tom shakes hands and bids farewell to Mr Groove Train/ Azhar. Sugar states that Azhar was a nice guy but “who wants to go into business with someone who no-one else listen to?”

In the taxi, Azhar thinks that the decision was wrong and I would agree. The loss was completely Jade’s fault and her lack of direction and understanding cost the team dearly. Azhar may have brought up their strategy a lot, but he had some decent points to make and Jade didn’t consider them. Yet she is still in the competition and Azhar is out.

Back at the house, Tom says that Azhar didn’t want to beg to stay and Jade says that she wanted to fight to keep her place in the competition. Adam tells Jade, “Well done! Good on you!” and in that moment, I realise that Adam and Jade are very similar in some respects…(overenthusiastic, grating, mildly escaping the axe and failing to understand the meaning of the tasks)

At the moment, there don’t appear to be many favourites in the show. Nick has proved to be of some talent but some of his decision making, such as not to try to sell the leftover stock from Romford Market, is a bit questionable. The only one who seems to standing out is Tom, cool, calm and collected, a good leader and a team player, good business sense and planning skills (and it doesn’t hurt that he is good looking too). He’s not completely perfect – remember his duh moment with the York Hall/ Your Call? All in all, I am a bit of a Tom fan and he seems to be a highly credible candidate, which probably means that he won’t win the show (the favourite never does, god forbid it may be Adam!!!??!) but I think he will go far in the competition.