The Apprentice 2016

Is anyone still watching The Apprentice? And if so, is anyone still enjoying it? I have been a regular viewer but I feel like the format is getting stale now. It is always the same tasks every year – design and market a new product (this year jeans), make and sell your own food (this year spending time in the kitchen making sweets), find a list items, at least one of them unknown, and negotiate for lowest price (spending the early hours of the morning looking for a tagine in London). As always, the tasks don’t actually matter because Lord Sugar only cares about THE BUSINESS PLAN in the end, which makes watching the whole process pointless!

This years’ candidates have to be the worst ever. Normally in each series, there are a few candidates who look like they are worthy and work impressively but this year, they are all completely useless! There are no shining stars at all, given that we are 7 weeks in. They are  all stupid, dishonest, passing-the-buck and egotistical. It makes it painful to watch each week, and it is not even entertaining any more, just boring.

If these are supposed to be the top of the crop of businessmen and women, what does that say about our country? The Apprentice is tired, dull and boring. Change the format or give it a rest.

Spooky Come Dancing

This week’s Halloween show saw some new favourites emerging, and some scary dances from others.

Georgina found herself at the top of the leaderboard (new week, new leader) and rightly so. Her dances are getting stronger each week.

Jay’s American Smooth was cool and Helen’s samba was clever. Although the judges raved about Kellie’s Paso Doble, I thought it was overrated. Perhaps due to the theme/music, it felt frantic and messy to watch.

Anita’s waltz was hauntingly beautiful, and I become impressed with Gleb’s choreography every week. It feels very different, very new to the show, and I like how the story merged with the dance. I did feel that they were undermarked by the judges, again! A 6 Craig?!

Jeremy isn’t the strongest dance but I really liked his “salsa” on Saturday. The Thriller elements are possibly the best dancing he has done to date.

I really want Anton to win or finish highly this year (he has never had the best of luck in SCD histoty) but for the second week running, Katie’s dance received negative feedback. I did feel it was worth more that 21 but I was disappointed. There was a lack of fire and conviction, and a lot of hesitiation in dancing the steps. Was the Viennese Waltz just a fluke or can they pull it back next week?

Kirsty was left in the dance off with Jamelia, and lost her place in the compeitition. I guess this was the right decision – Kirsty had the worst dance of the night. Even though she had the mistake, her Charleston felt very heavy and uninspired.

Bottom two next week? Jamelia – I feel she is overmarked this week. Her dances aren’t great. She lacks confidence and her personality doesn’t seem to come through. She seems a little cold and boring to me, and possibly the audience watching at home. Even though she is securing mid-table positions, lack of votes are leaving her in the dance off. I feel her chances may end soon. Unless Carol ends up in the bottom two as well, but for some reason, the public are really warming to her.

The Apprentice 2015

The Apprentice returned to our screens this month and well, it is the same as ever. Starting off with 18 candidates it is impossible to pick any frontrunners as of yet, but at the same time very easy to choose the next to be fired.

Week one started with a profit margin task with neither team convincingly performing well. In the end, Selina’s team won due to the fact that they recognised that spend less, sell more and identifying a strategy of some sort compared to April’s team dithering and overemphasis on quality of product, at the expense of time and money. In the end, “get your hands out of your pockets” Dan was the first to be fired. I have no idea what he is doing there; he looks like he has taken a wrong turn.

Week two was a marketing and advertising task. Market a cactus oil shampoo – is that a real thing? Should I be using this?… Although Lord Sugar hailed the boys’ campaign as the best ever, I thought it was average. Compare it to the girls’ campaign – muddled, confused and poorly executed, Western appears like a Oscar worthy masterpiece. Aisha deservedly went – she was at fault for the poor management.

This week was all about negotiating. Despite bumbling idiot Richard’s not-so-clever cheese negotiation, the boys’ team pulled off a convincing win. The girls’ team was a shambles. Although they started off well getting a good discount on the crystal flutes, from there on in it went to pot. A lot of it is because of Vana’s poor management – at some times inflexible when she needs to be (unwilling to compromise swapping the items with the other sub-team at first), poor strategy and awful decision making. The whole team is very catty and unfriendly, and it just looks so unprofessional. The boys’ team confessed they don’t like each other but know they need to put their differences aside and work together, something the girls need to learn! Although Vana was not very good, I did agree with Jenny being fired. She is useless, just saying a lot but not achieving much. Vana does have more potential than Jenny, although I wonder how the girls’ team will progress after all that bitchiness unleashed in that ep?

And one more thing? Why is the boys’ team toy inflatable boat allowed but not the anatomically correct paper skeleton from last year? #justiceforfelipe

Nick Hewer Quits The Apprentice!

It was revealed today that Nick Hewer has quit The Apprentice after ten years on the show. Although he has enjoyed the show, he is starting to find the schedule too demanding and tiring.

Bye Nick 😥

I will miss Nick. Together with Margaret, his withering put downs, eye rolling, and scathing summaries were highlights of the show. It is hard to imagine an episode without any of the two.

We know The Apprentice is returning next year, but who will be replacing Mr Hewer? Leave your opinions below!

The Apprentice – Interviews of Doom!

The final five faced the dreaded interview stage, where it can make or break a candidate, regardless of what happened in the past few weeks.

There has been some buzz about Solomon. Despite not being a standout candidate, he has shown some glimmer of creativity, for example, when he PM’d the viral video task and last week in the Teapot branding. The fact that he is based in technology others saw as a factor in his favour too (appealing to Sugar’s background). However, his business plan was not really a plan at all, and why Solomon saw it fit to fill the pages with pictures of sailboats is bizarre. We saw Claude rip him to shreds in the interview, leading Solomon to almost walk out of the window!!! He has a great background but I think he was too young and lacks business experience to consider going into partnership with. Give him a few years and he will do well.

Roisin has probably been the hot favourite but when she revealed the details of her business plan, it failed to win over the interviewers. She wanted to open a diet ready meal range based on a unique ingredient, which turned out to be not so unique. Her plan was too ambitious and too costly – too risky for a potential investor. She reminds me of Helen from a few years ago: if it had been a prize of a job, Roisin would win, but the business plan let her down.

Daniel was probably the hot favourite to exit the show in week 3,4,5… yet he has remained to this week! Big surprise! Nobody really show confidence in his business plan, or the lies on his CV, but what appealed was his background. He has managed to start from scratch and run his own business, which shows experience, but come on, it’s DANIEL! Did you expect him to win?!

Mark seems to be on the losing team almost every week but he has the highest sales figures in the competition. He wants to start a digital marketing business, similar to his previous jobs. He knows what to do and how to do it, but with a lot of competition from similar businesses, can he make it a big success?

Bianca seems a bit boring – too professional and no character to her. I did think the Claudine’s comments were a bit out of line. However, her emotional display in front of Ricky Martin proved how much the competition meant to her. Her hosiery business drew positive comments from the interviewers and there is a gap in the fashion market, with great potential to make millions.

Mark and Bianca are the two finalists! Who will win? I think Bianca will just edge it. Her business is more different and riskier than Mark’s business, but more likely to make more money at the end. And really, that is all that matters in the end isn’t it?…

The Apprentice – Dessert time!

It’s been a while since I have blogged about The Apprentice. Welcome back!

After the fiasco of Skeleton-Gate last week (I blame Sugar by the way), the two teams are changed, much to Daniel’s relief. Daniel swaps with Sanjay, who not long after, tells the rest of Tenacity that he is happy to be away from Bianca.

Will Mark lose another task? Mr Second-Worst-Candidate, losing to Daniel apparently…

Roisin and Katie, who both have food-related business plans, head up the two teams. Roisin’s team opts for tea flavoured cheesecakes and Katie chooses trifles. Summit has a relatively good product and tiptop branding, whereas Tenacity’s product contains some strange flavours and the branding is far from premium. It is not hard to see why Summit loses, especially combined with poor pitching (Mark’s Tesco pitch is one of the most hilarious moments of the series haha).

So whilst Summit go on a Martini and Macaroons yacht ride (is this a thing? I want to go! Do Martinis go with macaroons), team Tenacity are forced to explain themselves. Kirsty has been a solid candidate throughout the process, but shows an alarming lack of food knowledge, which scares Sugar. Mark again has performed well in the task (although he is a sneaky snake at times…) but his pitch this time around was awful/comical, especially after he hyped himself up to be the best salesman ever!!! He is also to blame for branding, along with Sanjay. Sanjay is an odd one; I can hardly remember who he was up until a few weeks ago, when I started to remember him for sniping at others, and saying a lot of things but not doing a lot of things.

As we start to near towards the final, Sugar pulls focus onto the business plans of the final three. Katie is the first to be fired – this week fails to inspire confidence in her from Sugar. No one seems to understand why Sanjay says his plan is so amazing, with Sugar and Mark struggling to see where money will be made. Not much is said about Mark’s plan, only that it is sales based…and that Mark is a good salesman. Sanjay is the next to go. Mark stays.

Bye Bye Sanjay

Next week the interviews take place. In a strange turn of events, previous winner Ricky Martin returns. Presumably he has done something to earn the status of “all powerful and great interviewer”. I do like him but he has changed now…boo…Judging from the preview, he will try to be extra tough and mean, like the other interviewers!

The Apprentice Series 8, Episode 12 – Final!!!

Who will win Sugar’s £250,000 investment?

No time for resting as Nick and Jade sit down after last week’s task and the phone rings immediately. Tom, glass of wine in hand, leisurely walks over to answer the phone and it’s Sugar wanting a chat! He tells them that they have 2 days to put together their business plan which will win them the grand prize that they have all been working towards, except Nick, who claims that he forgot all about it. The finalists all head off their separate ways in the house to bash out their new plans on their laptops. Ricky Martin has drawn the short straw and works outside in the globe thing in the garden that we saw for the first time last week.

The candidates arrive at New Broad Street House, which is something to do with the Institute of Directors. This links to the final as Sugar tells the final 4 that they could be directors of their own company, which is a bit of a lame link. He then asks each finalist to summarise their business plan. Nick’s combines technology with grocery shopping, Tom’s is a hedge fund for wine, Jade wants to create the UK’s largest telemarketing call centre/nuisance and Ricky Martin blusters on about an ethical, professional service with the mention of drugs thrown in. No one understands this. It soon transpires that he is wanting to create a recruitment agency for jobs in science and pharmaceuticals.

 
Business plans in hand…
Interviewers include Mike Soutar, who is an award winning magazine man, who learns that Tom has never  had a job interview before; Margaret Mountford, who points out that Nick likes to use the word “intelligence” a lot in his application; Matt Riley, former Young Entrepreneur of the Year and inventor of the ridiculous elevator pitch last year, who tells Ricky Martin that when he opened his app form he felt “sick”. Good start. Oh and the infamous Claude Littner, who hates everything and everyone, and wastes no time in telling Jade that she has a “grubby little business” and attacks her CV. Jade’s plan is based on those people who cold-call you constantly trying to sell you things that you don’t want…so I kinda side with Claude on this one.

Tom asks Ricky Martin and Nick how they rate Jade’s chances out of 10. Answer: 2 or 3. Things don’t get any better for Jade as she is chastised for not including a cash flow or balance sheet within her plan. Claude yells, “WHERE ARE YOUR COSTS?!” and Jade unwisely explains that Sugar’s investment covers all that. Claude is not happy that Jade will seemingly spend all of the £250,000 in a mere 6 months. Afterwards, Jade states that she wants a drink.

Ricky Martin gets the joy of hearing Margaret read his application back to him, including the phrase, “Lord Sugar is a business god…I am Thor”. Ricky Martin babbles on about how Thor was descended from the heavens and how he is the next generation in a whole line of business gods – or digging a big Thor-shaped hole for himself. Margaret asks if Ricky sees himself as the reincarnation of Sugar (steady on, he is not dead yet!), and he answers that he wants to replicate certain elements of his career.

 
Margaret’s back! And she’s just heard Ricky Martin declare himself a god…I kid you not

Nick is told by Claude that his plan is good…for a university project. The idea is to be able to enter a TV recipe in his software, which will find the ingredients on an online grocery site, for which Claude’s response is, “Do I care?” Outside, Ricky Martin is explaining that Nick has to be careful – his plan seems very complex and he had to avoid “patronising” the interviewers. Nick’s new tactic is to tell Claude that he is not the target market and that his website can be as big as Google or Facebook, and then is told to “Dream on.” Nick likens his experience with Claude to a “warzone”.

 
Clearly, it’s not love but business that is a battlefield for Nick

Matt/Mike (I got confused…one of the other people who aren’t Margaret or Claude) tells Tom that he has a great reference…from his dad. Nothing like relying on friends and family to give a good word on your behalf. Matt/Mike attempts to rile Tom by accusing him of getting his dad to write the plan (it seems too “sophisticated”) and calling him a “Daddy’s Boy”. Nothing can rile Tom.  I cannot imagine him getting riled into an angry frenzy, just mildly annoyed.

Matt/Mike is telling Nick that he doesn’t care about finding the best ingredients for his Shepherd’s Pie (well if he ends up with only a cauliflower and a stick of celery he only has himself to blame) and that no one plans their meal (which is a big generalisation to make…no one? Has this been checked?) Nick still maintains that there is a good market for his website. Matt/Mike then points out that Nick’s current multi-million making business (something to do with barcodes) is doing well and questions why Nick is here trying to gain investment for his stupid idea? And does this mean that Nick isn’t focused enough? Nick bits back saying that success is more important than focus, but easily gives in when Matt/Mike tells him that he is wrong. Nick, ever the wordsmith, surmises, “I need to focus…er…on focus.”

Matt/Mike manages to wheedle out the answer to the most important question of the series – why has Ricky Martin chosen to call himself Ricky? Is it because he is a big fan of the singer? Ricky Martin doesn’t admit to being a big fan of his music, instead claiming that it is good for sales as it helps to make an impression on the customers, mainly because the customer is laughing at his name in their head. We also learn that Ricky Martin’s real wrestling name is Ricky Hype, or The Fitness: Ricky Hype, admittedly not as good a name as Ricky Martin, and Matt/Mike wonders if he cannot separate the showbiz side from the business side. Matt/Mike then asks if Ricky Martin wanted a client to imagine him in lycra pants. This is classic displacement theory – Matt/Mike has clearly been thinking about Ricky Martin in lycra pants during the whole interview.

Here is a sob story for the show: Nick had an “unconventional childhood”. Living in Switzerland, he mainly did outdoor activities and he didn’t have a TV. NO TV!? The whole world is weeping for him – Clearly he must win the show because he didn’t have a TV. (Well no one seems to be going for his business idea, so sob story might be a better plan of attack)

Matt/Mike asks Jade, self-proclaimed “incredible businesswoman”, about her business qualifications. She admits that she studied graphic design with a business module. Matt/Mike calls her out – there was no business module, but Jade does have a Business A-Level…at N grade. Jade claims to  have forgotten this, somewhat conveniently, and is left feeling red-faced.

Tom calls himself BNOC (Big Name on Campus) with Margaret suggesting that the N could stand for something else (suggestions on a postcard please!). Sure it’s no “Ricky Martin” and nowhere near as catchy…BNOC…Hmm…Anyway, BNOC plans to raise £25million investment for wine – a big amount of money and he has little experience with hedge funds. Claude tells him that he is “too young”. Tom rate Claude 2 out of 10.

Ricky Martin, not wanting to use a cliché, declares himself as a “sledgehammer to the brick wall of other businesses”. YEAH! WITNESS THE FITNESS!

Jade mentions that she has bought 4 website domains as part of her plan of nuisance calling. Matt/Mike corrects her, she doesn’t own www.chooseyourenergysupplier.co.uk. In fact Matt/Mike found out that no one owns it, and either feeling spiteful/bored/having too much time and money on his hands bought the site. Jade is shocked and remarks that “I’ll have to buy it off you!” You have to wonder what she bought instead then if she is adamant she bought all 4…

Claude mentions that he has been looking forward to meeting Ricky Martin – an “enigma”. Is he that complex? Claude mentions that his personal statement is the worst he has ever read, which is an impressive achievement, as Claude doesn’t like anything. Highlights include: “I’m the best business partner on the planet” (“on the PLANET?” Claude stresses) and that Ricky would like to “teach an old dog new tricks”. Claude rants about how this is disrespectful to Sugar, and Ricky is full of remorse. Claude labels him an “arrogant fool” BUT he actually likes Ricky Martin’s business idea and thinks that it is well written, which is even more of an impressive achievement! He poses a question about whether the poor economy means that it is bad timing for Ricky to start his business, but Ricky convinces him that there is a huge market for his agency, and Claude seems impressed. This is surely a good sign…

Tom has no qualifications or experience with hedge funds. Matt/Mike deems this high risk, and Tom says that he plans to use Sugar’s name to attract interest for his hedge fund plan.

Margaret points out that Jade has had a lot of jobs within a short space of time. Ricky Martin impresses Claude again with his plan to start his business small and then develop it to suit other areas of recruitment and Tom declares, “I’ve never let anyone down in my life and I won’t!” Big words there.

Interviews done and dusted, Nick is convinced that his business is unique (it’s ok but sounds too ambitious, everyone hates his idea so he has no chance of winning), Jade thinks her business will make money (interview wise she hasn’t impressed, her plan doesn’t seem well thought out and the actual business itself….er well, I’m not a fan of people cold calling you to sell stuff…), Tom thinks he is in pole position (everyone tells him that he is too young and inexperienced, which could cost him the prize, otherwise he has a good business plan, not very interesting but promises big rewards if successful…and that is a big IF) and Ricky Martin claims he is “destined not to be a shrinking violet…I’M GONNA FIGHT!”. Yeah!!! Ricky’s plan is well thought out and although not exactly riveting, it seems solid and capable of delivering good results. He has coped well with interviews and he is the best all around candidate out of the 4. I am still backing Ricky Martin for the win!

Sugar has a chat with the interviewers…immediately he states that he is old and doesn’t want something that involves hard work. Does this count out Tom and Nick then?

Jade: Good saleswoman and background, but business a bit rubbish. Nick Hewer questions ability to run a business.

Ricky Martin: Talks a lot of rubbish, especially in his app form, but plan is simple and Ricky is passionate about it. Lots of potential, and the best line comes from Claude:

“I had a sleepless night with excitement thinking about how to rip him to shreds,” but in the end, “I was mesmerized” by Ricky. Move over Tricky…it’s er C-Ricky…or Cricky.

Margaret warns that Ricky Martin could say something silly in a business situation. I thought that was a good thing about him!

Nick: good at technology but he is too over-optimistic of his idea.

Tom: seen as a “gambler” who has lived a “charmed existence” (Sugar cracks a joke that Tom supports West Ham so he is far from charmed…tch). Karren points out that when she was 23 she was running Birmingham football club so stop calling Tom too young to do his business. Sugar says he likes risks but not with other people’s money. Potential but over ambitious.

 
One of these four will be the next Tom Pellerau!!!

WHO WILL WIN?

Sugar is concerned that Jade’s business will generate bad publicity for him. Tom’s idea is described as something that could easily fail. Ricky Martin’s comment that he is the “burning successor to Lord Sugar” is met with the response that Sugar needs to inform his children. Ricky Martin that his app shows that he came into the process with a lot of bravado and throughout the show, he has changed into a serious businessman (with the same name as the singer). Apparently, he has also allocated funds for the 4th year Christmas Party, which shows that he is meticulous if anything. Sugar seems delighted too. Ricky has the experience and the academic background to run his business. Nick’s business idea is pretty much shot down – apparently, no one wants to plan their meals.

Sugar says Tom’s plan is risky and doesn’t want to be linked to is in case it all fails miserably. He then recounts when everyone wanted Nick to be on their team, which apparently shows that he was good on the tasks but his plan is a bit of a mess. Ricky Martin, or “Ricky Ratchet-Jaws” as he calls him (another new name?!) has a credible plan. Sugar calls Jade “enthusiastic”, which we have often seen in this series to represent that a candidate is a bit rubbish (re: Adam) and she is the first to be fired, quickly followed by Nick (too much hard work and not likely to make much money).

Like an angel on one shoulder, and the devil on the other (you can decide which is which), Nick Hewer asks Sugar if he wants a “pedestrian recruitment business or one last hurrah?” whilst Karren reminds him that Ricky Martin has the knowledge and experience to make his business a certain success.

 
The final two…

Ricky Martin admits that he wouldn’t invest in Tom’s hedge-fund as he hates win but he apologises to Tom, telling him that he is a “fantastic person” (Tricky!) as they look at each other and share a smile. Ultimately, it comes down to “Safety or devilment [a made up word surely]” and Sugar plumps for safety and hires Ricky Martin. He wins! And together they will be a “powerful force to be reckoned with” according to Ricky Martin.

 
“A powerful force to be reckoned with…”

I backed him to win at the start for joke reasons but other the course of the series, I have been backing him to win because he has actually demonstrated the skills to be successful in business. He is a worthy winner but the sadness is that he is going to give up his wrestling as a result. Whilst the wrestling world mourns, will the recruitment world gladly receive Ricky Martin and his new business? Only time will tell…