Interviews

The Apprentice 2018, Episode 3 review - What “real” entrepreneurs think of the candidates this week

34 min read

19 October 2018

We all know what Lord Sugar thinks of his Apprentice stars, but what do the entrepreneurs operating outside of the show think of his latest and greatest?

The Apprentice, a show that’s gone from the sublime to the ridiculous in recent years – but is that a bad thing?

When the show first started out, it truly was the first of it’s kind.

It was the ultimate democratic platform for budding entrepreneurs without the qualifications, or the connections, to meet the right people who could make their dreams a reality.

Through Lord Sugar’s reality show, they were able to be hot-wired straight to the ultimate funding source.

As the years have gone on, the show has only gained in popularity and has become an entrepreneurial X-factor of sorts.

The higher the ratings went, the more comical the show became, swiftly transforming into a comedic tango between the one-liner comments from the villainous Lord Sugar, and the increasingly colorful characters that took part.

Fast forward to this year, and three episodes in, this comical tango is only increasing in speed and proverbial thigh-flashing.

So, as the show has become such a cultural stipend in British telly life, it’s about time we ask real-life entrepreneurs what they think of the candidates, and if they could make it on ‘ the outside’.

We ask six career-smashing entrepreneurs what they made of the events in episode three this season.

 

Daniel Scott, CEO – CoinCorner

What the winning team did well?

Essentially, the winning team were lucky in managing to sell more terrible doughnuts than the losing team! In general, their leadership was more decisive and they seemed more composed in their approach to the task.

What the losing team did badly?

The losing teams decisions were caused by indecisive leadership, lack of communication and over complication of the task. Poor project management defined how each team member contributed to the task, with one example being Jackie’s suggestion of the bespoke corporate ‘B’ shape. Out of this context her idea would have had the potential to wow the corporate client, but within this task it wasn’t well-thought out given the lack of baking skill and time restraints on the team.

I like to approach tasks with the KISS method – Keep It Simple Stupid! Had the losing team kept things simple, they would have had more success.

Which candidate stood out in a good way?

Kayode stood out in a good way in this task as he was positioned well in the salesman role. It’s easy to see that he’s a natural at speaking with customers and delivering an engaging, persuasive service. He definitely played to his strengths and showed that he can sell products (even the least appealing doughnuts!) to the general public.

Which candidate stood out in a bad way?

Many of the candidates stood out in a bad way (Frank, Tom, Jasmine and Kurran), with Jackie perhaps standing out a little more than others. She’s a confident speaker and talks the talk as if she’s very experienced in business, but when it came to this task she made a fatal mistake with the choice of doughnut shape, led the corporate pitch poorly by opening with incorrect information (talking about the client’s Shoreditch restaurant), and lied to the client when asked if the doughnuts tasted good.

What lessons and takeaways budding entrepreneurs and small business owners can take from this episode?

Despite their win, the team managed by Camilla also made a number of mistakes including not listening to each other. Budding entrepreneurs and small business owners can learn from Camilla’s leadership mistakes by recognising the importance of acknowledging and considering team feedback. Had Camilla stopped to listen to Sabrina’s quality-control comments about how awful the doughnuts looked, they could have made changes to the presentation, supplied a stronger product to the corporate client and secured better profits.

Secondly, entrepreneurs and business owners can learn from how each team approached designing their doughnuts flavours. Had the winning team considered Sabrina’s rainbow and sprinkles design, they could have taken advantage of a trend and created an exciting, appetising product. In the same way, the losing team took no time to think about whether many people would enjoy a hot-sauce covered doughnut.

It’s important think about what products exist in the market already and whether a new, whacky idea will sell. Ultimately, neither team gave much thought to their product and this prevented them from meeting their high sales targets. The key takeaway for entrepreneurs is that it’s crucial to think about what your customers need from a product or service and deliver something that meets expectation.

Charlie Johnson, CEO & Founder – BrighterBox.com

What the winning team did well.

“Having an experienced FMCG entrepreneur in the ranks didn’t do much harm as Team Typhoon made a quick and decisive leadership selection. Camilla was authoritative and at no point was that authority challenged. She had a strong vision, to 10x the quality of the donuts laid out for the two teams at the start of the programme, and the British theme – in spite of the tea-bag topping – was a smart choice for selling to locals and tourists in a sunny Central London.

Team Collaborative made mistake after mistake. John struggled to impart any leadership on the group and there was no clear voice. However small or short-term the business, they needed a vision and there wasn’t one. Too many decisions were put to the team and, with so many strong opinions, John made a rod for his own back within the first few seconds of the show.

This continued during production, pitching and selling phases so you have to look at the PM for setting the tone. I eat sriracha with everything so was really excited to see how their recipes were received – especially chocolate and chili. It seems like not everyone has the mental fortitude for such a hot combination. I feel for these people.

Which candidates stood out in a good way.

Their final product looked like the aftermath of a 3-year-old’s birthday party, so Daniel did unbelievably well to salvage the corporate deal, clearly spotting when to cash in and run, whilst Kayode’s charismatic selling style somehow convinced unsuspecting punters to part with somewhere between three and five of their English pounds. Only in London.

Which candidates stood out in a bad way.

I felt a little for Jackie but not knowing that Beach Blanket Babylon had been open for years showed a lack of research and lost her team a lot of credibility. I couldn’t see any way back for them at that point. What lessons and takeaways budding entrepreneurs and small business owners can take from this episode.

Donut is better than perfect. Although quality control was lacking, when Sabrina put up some fairly muted protestations, Camilla spoke up quickly to highlight the need for getting the product ready as quickly as possible – which allowed the team more time to free up their best salespeople to sell”.

Amanda Augustine, Career Advice Expert – TopCV

“Shambles is the word that comes to mind about the latest Apprentice episode! From being shockingly under prepared, to making rash decisions on the spot, last night was a crash course in how not to handle an important deal. Chilli sauce and doughnuts aside, the errors were enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Take Jackie’s Shoreditch blunder. She demonstrated just how important it is to stick to the truth when meeting someone for the first time. While it can be tempting to tell a small white lie to help find common ground, you are quite likely to trip yourself up and sabotage someone’s first impression of you. Whether it’s a pitch or a job interview, never lie or say anything that you can’t back up if questioned.

Lying also comes to mind when we talk about the other business faux pas we saw – false promises. Let’s not forget that these apprentices were constantly over-selling themselves and their products last night. I would always recommend packaging yourself and your previous experience up in the best way possible to land a job – but lies are never the answer. As a result, when the apprentices turned up with their laughable doughnuts, customers turned them down or literally spat them out in some cases!

“Equally, it’s incredibly important to understand who your audience is and what will – or will not – appeal to them. Don’t try and sell something your audience doesn’t want – putting a jammy dodger on top of a doughnut isn’t going to win you any favours – not with me anyway! Instead, sell yourself by fitting the brief, not forcing a quirky alternative down someone’s throat.”

Stacey MacNaught, Content Marketing Consultant – StaceyMacNaught.co.uk

Stacey MacNaught - Content Marketing Consultant

It felt a bit like another episode where the only really significant thing the winning team did was to be a bit less terrible than the losing team. There were mistakes all over the place, but a big part of the losing team’s failure was down to the corporate order being too complex to produce and the quality suffering as a result. They made £80 off the B shaped donuts that ultimately took the bulk of the production time. That comes down to Jackie, but Tom didn’t even take her back into the boardroom.

Yes, Jasmine made the wrong call on putting chilli sauce on a donut (seriously, what was THAT?), but I think she was otherwise pretty good, decisive and efficient in comparison to the other candidates.

I think Tom was the weakest candidate this week and not just because he took the wrong people back in to the boardroom with him. You can’t lead a team in a project like this by vote! It’s weal management. And if you spend all your time trying to keep everyone happy, you’ll ultimately keep nobody happy. He was a weak leader and unprepared to accept responsibility for anything. I thought he should have been fired.

The episode illustrates perfectly how absolutely vital clear leadership and process is. There was no direction in the kitchen. Tom’s approach was basically, “Ok, guys. So, some Bs and some other ones? Everyone ok with that? Everyone alright? Shall we vote on it?” They could have been more efficient and organised in the kitchen, which would have had the production completed more quickly and left more time for sales.

Faisal Nasim, Founder – ExamPapersPlus

“Two things lost it for team, “Collaborative,” this week. First of all, the poor production quality of the corporate order donuts. Secondly, that chilli and chocolate donut. When someone buys your product, takes a single bite and then throws it in the bin, you can be fairly confident that you’ve got it completely and utterly wrong. And what makes it worse is the fact they tried it in the kitchen, didn’t even like it themselves, but still produced and sold it anyway.

The weakest link, in my view, was Jackie. She promised something that she really had no idea how to deliver and this cost the team dearly. It was a big mistake and she was lucky not to be in the boardroom.

The winning team’s strongest point this week was their enthusiasm. Kayode was the standout candidate by a country mile. He was absolutely brilliant at selling donuts, despite objections that they didn’t look particularly good. He was a likeable sales person and a big part of team Typhoon’s victory.

There’s a real lesson for entrepreneurs from this week’s episode that we can take from Kayode. Love your own product and you’ll be your own best sales person. Your own passion for your product can take you a really long way, regardless of whether you’re selling donuts, software or educational products.”

Paul Rowlett, Founder – EverythingBranded

“Week three and its time for the high pressure world of yes, you guessed it – £4 Doughnut selling!! or sadly lack of it when it comes to team Collaborative, which is actually a real shame as they clearly had the best-looking products but forgot about one key thing, they need to be eaten!

Now don’t get me wrong I’m all up for trying things out and being different and I certainly have never followed the norm, but a hot sauce doughnut…… well you win the task for pushing the boundaries for sure. Which leads me onto one hard and fast rule I follow in business, and and its so, so simple whatever your goal is, you need to ask yourself what’s the risk vs reward #riskreward!

So in this case the reward was staying in the competition so with only one crack of the whip, why try and be clever as you’re mostly likely going to fail, my approach would be keep things simple and don’t try and re-invent the wheel. For instance, team Typhoon and Camilla who made the decision to go for classic fan favourite tastes and ‘’ Bake-off Style‘’ design (Ok, I know they wouldn’t win any beauty contests) but again kept things simple and relevant. An indulgent doughnut is a kind of luxury food so taste is a vital USP after gorgeousness.

If we add a great sales person like Kayode who I really like, as he clearly has passion and ability and you’re on a winning path. So did the right person go ? I’m not so sure that the task failure was down to Frank and I tend to agree that Tom as PM was the weak link here, but then again after the week before I think it was clear that the writing was on the wall for Frank sadly as he was never going to be a finalist on this show.

So a tip I will share from my experience in business decisions: if you are starting out and don’t have resources flowing freely, set an achievable goal and concentrate on using your core product line/skill to get there. When you have hit this first milestone, you can take a cautious risk as you can rely on the core product/skill ticking over and supporting your gamble.

The doughnut with chocolate and chilli was a risk – but chilli and chocolate is a thing and a recognised gourmet combination. The secret is, obviously, to pair high end chocolate with the tiniest sprinkling of chilli to taste exciting, not slather a standard chocolate doughnut with a litre of sriracha sauce.

Now you may fail, but if you hit gold that reward can change everything and catapault you into the next level (in every sense). So, to summarise, get the basics right and then consider carefully how you are going to diversify”.

Linda Davies Carr, Business Turnaround Coach – TheMasterFixer.com

Week 3 of the Apprentice was a great episode and a brilliant case study for every entrepreneur and small business owner to study. Many may criticise this type of show and it’s ‘potted’ version of business however all of us will recognise behaviours and outcomes.

The winning team, Typhoon did well because simply put they had a plan, clearly defined roles, strong leadership, took decisive actions, with stronger sales execution and as a team they played to their strengths. They stay focused, stayed in their lane and got the job done. The reason their profit was nearly four times the profit made by Team Collaborative is that Team Typhoon worked collaboratively and despite their name the losing team did not.

The team that lost, did so because they did not have clear leadership from the start. The corporate team committed to a sales order that was operationally challenging, and not considered – the creation of the bespoke B shaped doughnut and the sales negotiation was not thought through and poorly managed. Their sales focus was unclear and poorly executed. Their roles were unclear and poor defined. Communication was poor, but the overwhelming theme throughout the exercise was that the team lacked leadership.

In my opinion the candidate who stood out in a bad way was Tom, the team leader as he failed to lead his team, instead looking for consensus, when what they needed was someone to take charge and lead. It’s great to be ‘nice’ in business and to feel you are taking your team with you, however you do actually have to lead and be a decision-maker to really gain the confidence of those around you. It was as if he wanted to be liked by his team mates and hoped they would take his consensus style of management versus taking control – which was needed to win the task. He showed he was a good coordinator when they needed a leader!

The strongest performer this week was Kayode who showed that being approachable, friendly and engaging meant even the weirdest looking doughnuts became an attractive proposition for those customers he engaged with (or something like that).

The brilliant and impacting business takeaways from episode 3 for every entrepreneur and small business owners are in my view:

• Step up and be the leader – people respond well to direction.

• Stay in your lane and focused on the end goal.

• Clearly define your roles, understand each other’s strengths and play to them.

• Have a clearly defined sales focus, plan and execution.

Martin Talbot, Group Director – TotalJobs

What the winning team did well?

Last night, the winning team ‘Typhoon’ kept it simple and traditional, which turned out to be the key to cooking up a storm in Doughnut week. They kept their corporate brief clear and concise during their business pitch and selecting classic British combinations, albeit on the unusual scale with an Earl Grey tea and biscuit flavour. Despite some team tensions along the way, they were victorious in the boardroom.

What the losing team did badly?

Unfortunately, this week’s losing team ‘Collaborative’ took their new team name a little too far. A lack of strong and authoritative leadership negatively influenced the team’s outputs from the start, creating confusion and no accountability for any decisions made. Last night’s episode was a clear example of how a strong leader can change the team dynamics and really drive the progress of any project.

Which candidate stood out in a good way?

Daniel Eiahi, owner of his own lifestyle brand and member of team ‘Typhoon,’ stood out as a cool, calm and collected character, offering sound advice and a strong contribution to his team. He presented himself as the most business-savvy of the candidates during this task, remaining conscious of the knock-on effect of contractual obligations on the corporate side and displaying some great competency handling both sales and negotiations to the public.

Which candidate stood out in a bad way?

On the flip side, law graduate Kurran Pooni struggled to make an impact in his team. He came across as vague and unprepared while pitching to his corporate client and struggled to impress for the rest of the episode. Hopefully, next week we’ll see him up his game and be ready to take on the Body Building Expo next week.

What lessons and takeaways budding entrepreneurs and small business owners can take from this episode?

As Lord Alan Sugar’s search for his next business partner continues, one of the key takeaways from Doughnut week is the art of good negotiation skills. Negotiating a strong deal with the corporate client rescued team ‘Typhoon’ and demonstrates how perfecting the art of negotiating is invaluable to any role in any sector. The value of strong leadership should also not be underestimated, which was a big part of Tom’s downfall as PM of the losing team.

Having someone who is prepared to lead from the front and take charge is important to boosting team morale and confidence. While taking the opinions of your team onboard is important, a more confident and decisive leadership stance is essential and will put individuals in good stead for future success.

Danny Doughty, Founder – Roch Valley

“The winning team this week had two things that sorely lacked in the losing team. The first – a genuine passion for the product. And secondly, a leader prepared to make some real decisions. In this process, much like in business in general, you need a leader who is prepared to be responsible, accountable, give direction and guide the team. Tom gave the worst leadership display we’ve seen in the series so far, essentially refusing to make a decision unless 100% of the team were on board with him. It slowed the losing team down and was a big factor in their ultimate defeat.

Jasmine was the strongest candidate for me. Ok, so she made the wrong call with the flavours. But the moment Tom left the kitchen, she did exactly what he should have been doing all along – she set a process, gave clear direction to people and went a long way to making up for the slow few hours beforehand. I was incredibly surprised to see her back in the boardroom.

Despite the poor performances overall, the winning team did deserve their victory, mostly driven by a great sales performance by Kyode.

The stand out lesson was that selling something you can’t deliver is a sure fire failure in the making. After Jackie promised gold B shaped doughnuts and sold them as the finest doughnut the restaurant owner would ever have seen, anything less than perfect was going to lead to problems. But she’d promised something the team could not deliver in the time, so all that effort was very much wasted after the customer refused to take two thirds of them. For any business, whatever it sells and whoever it sells to, overpromising the customer is a serious problem that is completely avoidable.”

Ricky Martin, Managing Director – Hyper Recruitment Solutions.

What the winning team did well?

I know how tough The Apprentice process is, so I am conscious of not undervaluing the reality of it, with what we all saw on TV. However, to be honest I don’t think it was a case of what was done right, it was who was the lesser of two evils. If there was something to credit it would be that the winning team seemed to adapt a lot quicker to the fact the boys and girls’ teams had been mixed up and there were again new personalities to work with.

What the losing team did badly?

Over committed and under delivered! When it came to their B shaped donuts this is exactly what they did with their corporate client and it cost them valuable time. This led to less product being made, loss of sales potential and ultimately, a smaller margin to end up with. In all businesses ensuring you do what you say is essential both to the short term (like on this Apprentice task) but more so in the long term. Do you want repeat customers, do you want a reputation? I am afraid the team woefully underdelivered.

Let’s not forget they are not donut connoisseurs, however the principle of not over promising applies to all. – Which candidate stood out in a good way Kayode showed personality in his ability to build rapport with customers and sell. You can have the best product in the world (neither team did however) but if you cannot inspire your customer to buy, you are dead in the water. Currently I am glad he was my sweepstake bet apart from I do feel he will be out of his depth in the later stages of the process

Which candidate stood out in a bad way?

The losing PM Tom I am afraid did a poor job. Apart from too many people are telling me he is the love child of previous Apprentice winner Mark Wright and I, that is as far as his talents have gone so far. His style of leadership was so passive and “collaborative”. Yes, in the real world it may bring people together and could really pull together a cohesive team, on The Apprentice when you don’t really know who is good at what (especially in Week 3) you need quick decision making and authoritative leadership. Not making a real call has marked his card with some I am afraid.

What lessons and takeaways budding entrepreneurs and small business owners can take from this episode?

If you are taking the lead, take the lead. Entrepreneurs and small business owners have to wear multiple hats in order to deliver. You don’t have the luxury of mass resource and having all the time in the world as the reality is, every second costs money. Back your judgement and show people the way, don’t let the herd dictate the direction! If you want to be proud of making your dreams in to a reality, you have to ensure that you remain in sight of your vision or it will be diluted.