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…

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!

Being Human Series 4

Series 4 saw big changes into terms of its cast, but did the show manage to continue its success without most of its main characters exiting? Last series saw Mitchell depart the show as George staked him, sending home to where dead vampires go (oblivion perhaps), and after the first episode of the fourth series, we had already lost Nina, and by the end, George, in an emotional farewell as he sacrificed himself to save his daughter. We saw the reintroduction of Tom in the meanwhile, and the entrance of ex-Old One, Hal. In the first few episodes, Hal made me miss Mitchell. Whilst Mitchell had charm, Hal lacked the likeability factor, although over the series, he has got better, and the bromance he has struck over with Tom, a sweet, at times naive, character, was one of the highlights of the series. I am still not sold on Hal yet though, his constant whining and self-pitying about his vampiric side starts to grate. It seems bizarre that I felt more sympathy when Cutler (who I preferred over Hal) found his wife dead than when Hal found Alex dead.

 

This series, Annie has had to cope with losing her best friends but I like the way in which she managed to bring Hal and Tom together, and the new household and friendship they had created. She has taken part in some of the humourous part of the show, such as the accidental killing of a cantankerous old man, but she has also shone in some of the more darker plotlines, such as being faced with having to kill baby Eve. The final scenes she steals as she exits in a blaze of glory and her ending is resolved, but there is a hint that she could return to the mortal world in the future.

 

So for the next series, we are done with the original cast and faced with a new household dynamic. Alex, the new ghost, has proven to be a witty character with moments of vulnerability, and to find what her unfinished business is, delving deeper into her character, will be fascinating. The introduction of the “cleaners” is intriguing – are they villains? Will we see vampires and werewolves unite against them? Also, if Eve’s death means that all vampires will die, what does that mean for the show? It has been a great series and has done well to move the focus from the original trio onto the newer characters of the show, and I cannot wait to see what will happen in Series 5.  

 

 

Being Human (originally written on 05/02/2012)

Tonight sees the return of Being Human on BBC3 at 9pm, and this series sees a lot of changes. One of the things that has worked so successfully for the show is the interplay and relationship between Annie, Mitchell and George, and last series culminated in George performing the greatest sacrifice for Mitchell, by staking him to avoid being by the Head Vampire, played by Lee Ingleby. Whilst Mitchell (Aidan Turner) goes on to star in The Hobbit, Russell Tovey and Sinead Keenan recently announced that they were quitting the show. This paves the way for new characters Hal, and Tom (who we saw in the last season) to join Annie (Lenora Critchlow), but this is a massive gamble. However, sometimes the show has to change to keep fresh and new, and whilst George and Mitchell will be sorely missed, it’s time to see what the new boys can do…