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The Apprentice 2018, Episode 4 review - What “real” entrepreneurs think of the candidates this week

29 min read

25 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?

Episode 4 of The Apprentice 2018 saw the candidates take on the challenge of securing and then selling services and products at one of the UK’s biggest bodybuilding expos held in Birmingham.

The episode was surprisingly light on bodybuilding puns from Lord Sugar, but was, predictably, heavy on the embarrassing antics from the candidates.

To their credit, both teams gave selling a diligent effort (with the exceptions of Kurran who just floated around aimlessly and Alex who just failed to connect with anyone). Despite (almost) everyone’s commendable sales efforts, as expected, candidates from both teams made a series of obvious blunders, which made for painful viewing.

Of course, all the candidates thought they did amazingly in every respect, and were, as usual, completely oblivious to their numerous shortcomings. This was with the exception of Kurran, who was refreshingly self aware, saying that he was half expecting Lord Sugar to come back to the house and fire him.

But what do real entrepreneurs and business leaders think about how the two teams performed?

-Table of Contents-

Aaron Short, Co-founder – Accommodation.co.uk

I was surprised that Team Collaborative won this week but in retrospect, they had the most energy – especially when they got up on stage – and sauna sales did well despite Rick’s strange selling technique. Even though they didn’t get the gym equipment, they made the best of the saunas and made pushing sales the priority. Tom redeemed himself this week as well, but then again it would be hard not to look like a good salesman next to Rick…

The Team Collaborative services team made a smart decision to opt for massages despite the low price point. Karrun let the side down a bit but overall their enthusiasm was great and they honed in on a service that made sense at a bodybuilding expo.

The lack of focus on selling the high end product was ultimately Team Typhoon’s downfall. Sabrina should’ve made sure the whole team knew that this was the priority from the outset and Alex was clearly out of his comfort zone despite repeatedly claiming that he was a great salesman.

Even if he had had that last hour pushing gym equipment I doubt it would’ve made a difference. He was clueless on the product specs and put too much faith in people coming back to the stand. As a business person, you have to make the most of having someone’s attention while they’re in front of you because you can’t guarantee you’ll get that opportunity again.

Similarly, Sabrina and co didn’t make the most of their time on stage. They could’ve easily taken a product up on stage for a demo or at least given it a shoutout.

Spray tanning as a service wasn’t a great choice and the decision to push their sponge sales didn’t make sense – they should’ve up sold these items to people who were coming to their stand for a spray tan instead of taking time away from selling spray tans later in the day.

Overall, nobody really stood out in this episode. Kayode wasn’t put in the best position to let his personality shine but his energy on stage was great, and I liked that Sabrina took the time to speak to the vendors about their products and learn about what they sell as opposed to just focusing on price, price, price.

Alex however was clearly the worst of the bunch in my opinion. He had so much opportunity to step up and sell the gym equipment and complained that he wouldn’t be able to sell tanning as it’s a “woman’s” product. In business, you need to be able to engage with people about any kind of product – you just need to take the time to learn about what you’re selling.

Obviously The Apprentice isn’t the sort of environment where you can take a bit of time to research a product like you would in the normal world, but if this episode is anything to go by, it’s also not the place for people who can’t deliver on their overconfidence!

Daniel Scott, CEO – CoinCorner

1) What the winning team did well.

It’s difficult to say what the winning team did well as there were a lot of mistakes made throughout the episode, yet despite all odds they managed to make the most sales. Choosing the massage service was probably the best decision that was made. The sub-team wisely considered that they would need to put in double effort to make profit as the massage was a low-cost service. They committed to a simple service and went on to execute their plan with enthusiasm.

2) What the losing team did badly.

Alex let the team down in this task unfortunately. He contributed very little, showed a complete lack of knowledge and interest to the gym equipment vendor, and complained about the PM’s decision-making rather than embrace the time-sensitive situation and make the best of it.

Secondly, the sub-team’s decision to choose the spray tan service was foolish. As PM, Sabrina had specifically asked them not to choose a service that would take time to learn, yet the girls gave no thought to this and picked what was probably the most complicated service of all! They even went on to abandon the tanning booth toward the end of the task, even though they could have made far more money giving tans than selling charcoal sponges.

3) Which candidate stood out in a good way?

Sabrina stood out well, showing her natural enthusiasm and passion for the different vendor products. She made each vendor feel understood and listened to, and helped her team to get their first-choice product. Although she was dealt a bad hand with some of the decisions made by other team members (Sian as sub-team leader), Sabrina demonstrated good leadership overall.

4) Which candidate stood out in a bad way?

Quite a few candidates gave a poor performance in this task. Bringing previous episodes into consideration, Kurran probably stood out as the worst candidate as he seems to contribute nothing in any of the tasks! Despite his injured arm, there was plenty he could have got involved in and shown enthusiasm for. He barely did anything and simply lucked out to have been in the winning team not facing elimination.

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

If you’re a budding entrepreneur with a big ego, be prepared to put it aside if you want your business idea to be a success. People (especially customers) rarely respond well to ego as it can often be misinterpreted as a lack of care and compassion for others.

Additionally, recognise your strengths and weaknesses as it may save you from costly mistakes! Alex may have been able to save himself if he had admitted that he wasn’t good at selling and that he would try harder next time. Unfortunately he tried to blame the PM too much for his lack of skill and it didn’t show him in a positive light.

Lastly, when creating a new product it’s crucial to consider if you have the right resources to sell it. When selecting the spray tanning service, the losing sub-team didn’t think about their lack of resources, including skill-level and non-existent knowledge, at all and this was definitely the downfall of the team.

Question: Was the right person fired?

Amanda Augustine, Career Advice Expert – TopCV

“So, Alex was fired. Who saw that coming? Well, me. Alex not only helpfully demonstrated to the viewers how negativity can be your worst enemy but, crucially, how empty promises don’t impress when you’re trying to land a dream job. Employers never appreciate someone over-selling their abilities then under-delivering in reality. But let’s reflect on the full task.

“The winning team had great enthusiasm for a difficult product. They showed that even when you feel you’ve been dealt a bad hand, those who handle the situation with positivity and professionalism often come out on top. On the flip side, the losing side had the ‘easier’ product and were best placed to land a win, yet they failed to take advantage of the situation. As a result, the boardroom could have gone either way with Sabrina and Alex at level-pegging.

“Sabrina made several fatal errors managing the task. Her last error of the day was failing to prepare properly before going into the boardroom. When asked, ‘Why do you deserve to be here?’ she wasted precious time listing her previous experiences rather than clearly communicating how she specifically contributed to this task. I felt for Sabrina here, but unfortunately she got tongue-tied and didn’t make her make her points eloquently, leaving Lord Sugar bemused.

“However, it was Alex who ultimately talked himself out of the job by churning out empty phrases such as ‘millionaire mindset’. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I will again – the proof is in the pudding. I’ve seen many candidates make this mistake – whether writing their CV, going for an interview, or pitching to investors. While we love/hate ‘The Apprentice’ for it, the process is about demonstrating your unique value to Lord Sugar who, at the end of the day, is looking for a business partner he can trust, not somebody to reel off empty one-liners. Alex couldn’t back up his claims of being a ‘natural salesman’ and that’s what saw him fired.”

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The Apprentice 2018 – Episode 4 Slides
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Source: BBC

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

Stacey MacNaught - Content Marketing Consultant

Wow, the winning team were incredibly lucky this week. After their absolute nightmare “pitch” to try and win the fitness equipment they were lumbered with the sauna and looked to be heading towards certain defeat.

But it didn’t quite work out that way. And it’s yet another week where I find myself thinking that the only thing the winning team did well was to be a bit less poor than the losing team.

It’s fair to say that team Typhoon secured the fitness equipment purely off the back of Sabrina’s effort and in spite of Alex. Sabrina was great, asking all the right questions and demonstrating a real understanding of the product and its benefits for the end user. Alex asking about guarantees and insurance was as cringeworthy as him securing a 1 cent discount in a supermarket in Malta in week 1. The vendor was rightly unimpressed.

Alex was the poorest candidate this week. He was awkward when pitching for the product at the outset, poor when attempting to sell the product and then, when we was moved over to the tanning sales at the end of the day, just complained about it being a “female” product rather than bucking down and just getting on with it.

Despite the odd mistake throughout, I think Sabrina was generally very organised and used her own personal knowledge and experience to great effect throughout the whole process.

If there’s one thing we can all take away from this week’s episode, it’s the importance of understanding selling the benefits of a product. Alex’s poor performance clearly came down to a lack of understanding of the product and a subsequent inability to sell it.

Question: Who was the strongest team this week?

 

Paul Rowlett, CEO/Founder – EverythingBranded.co.uk

So another week goes by watching the UK’s crème de la crème of future UK business superstars and one simple word sums up this episode – the one word which is the foundation of any business: ‘’ Sales‘’ – or rather the lack of them from so many of the contestants. Let’s be honest it was the serious lack of sales which was the driving force behind‘’ Alex millionaire mindset Finn facing the axe this week.  From a personal point of view he seemed out his depth to me, but let’s give him a well-deserved pat on the back as a 21-year-old entering a show like this certainly deserves some credit.

Even even though the right candidate did go,  I think if Kurran Pooni had not got a free pass from Lord Sugar, his number was surely up as using the bad arm excuse again does not stop you showing passion and using your voice effectively in a sales environment. I felt he could have got his hands dirty far more (if we stick with an arm-based metaphor), and as he declared that next week he intends to be Project Manager and win, I am faint with apprehension as to what may be achieved.

So people issues aside, why did one team triumph over another? In my opinion it was due to over-complicating the task in hand, which simply creates more problems.

In business my mantra has always been “Don’t over-complicate when there is a clear goal and always keep things simple”. Why then, would you offer a spray tanning service at a trade show instead of  massage or photography? Both the latter are much easier to deploy and can be sold in bulk as an impulse buy. Offering spray tanning  – especially with no experience in using the kit just seems crazy to me.

So who stood out? I actually thought Sarah-Ann was really good as PM and I like her ‘no frills’  approach to getting things done which clearly worked, as they took the crown this week.

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The Apprentice 2018 – Episode 4 Slides
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Source: BBC.

Linda Davies Carr, Business Turnaround Coach – TheMasterFixer.com

Week 4 of the Apprentice was another “want to shout at the TV”  episode and a great example of how important it is to have the right people around every you.

Interestingly some of the candidates appear to have learned from last week and the leaders did actually lead and the roles and responsibilities were quickly identified and agreed.

What the winning team did well

They worked all day, relentlessly on providing onsite massage. The service they chose was spot on as it was a simple, easy to provide and non invasive.  Whilst the price point was low, they managed to deliver volume and this was, essentially the tipping point for their success. They also seized the opportunity to speak on stage and managed to carry over the energy and enthusiasm to a wider audience for greater impact.

What the losing team did badly

Although they had the best product in the best place but they did not execute their roles well. Other than Sabrina, their sales skills were extremely weak and this was their failing. They also missed a trick by not selling more high ticket items which was a lost opportunity. They made a fundamental error by by leaving the tanning stall empty in the last hour of the challenge – in a show like this with a captive engaged audience, no one will wait around for that service. They will quickly move on elsewhere as literally there will be something to capture their interest next door.

Which candidate stood out in a good way

Kayode again, his energy, commitment and flexibility. On the winning team again this week – he’s definitely the one to watch!

Which candidate stood out in a bad way

In my opinion there were two this week: Alex who failed to deliver any sales, and although he claims to have a “millionaire mindset” there’s no point having the mindset without any millionaire sales ability!  Also Kurran who, despite his arm in a sling, failed to deliver any value at all – in fact this seems to be a pattern with him. What value has he really brought so far?

Was the right person fired?

Absolutely they got the right person this week in fact I would have taken the opportunity to get rid of both Alex & Kurran.

The brilliant and impacting business takeaways from episode 4 for every entrepreneur and small business owners are in my view:

  • Build relationships with your clients  – people buy from people they know, like & trust even if that has to happen quickly.
  • Identify a sales strategy and execute effectively.
  • Ensure those identified to carry out sales can actually sell!
  • Have a clearly defined sales focus, plan and execution.

Martin Talbot, Group Director – TotalJobs

What the winning team did well

Team ‘Collaborative’ fought off the competition following what turned out to be Jackie’s game-changing decision to select massages as their service in Birmingham. Their Project Manager (PM), Sarah Ann, also drove home the point of the task to her team, with a “sell sell sell” approach that ultimately led to the highest overall sales, despite the loss of their first-choice item. Working together to sell was key here, with teamwork at the heart of their sales tactics.

What the losing team did badly

The losing team ‘Typhoon’ missed out on a huge opportunity by failing to deliver on sales, despite having the best product in the best location. Their service choice of fake tanning was a similarly wasted opportunity, as not only did they fail to promote their spray tan service during their public demonstration, but their misplaced focus on selling sponges and rollers became their undoing in the boardroom.

Which candidate stood out in a good way

Sabrina, PM for team ‘Typhoon’, was a stellar example of a positive and energetic management style. Despite not securing victory, she led with a product-centric approach during the pitching phase, which helped them secure their first-choice and most desirable item, the gym equipment. Her diplomatic leadership abilities and commitment to the task, where she achieved the biggest sale of the day, make Sabrina one to watch as the competition hots up. 


Which candidate stood out in a bad way

Alex was out of his comfort zone from the beginning and was unable to find his way, which resulted in no sales during his time in Birmingham. Karren said she “would be shocked if he sold anything” at the event, which sadly summed up his efforts on this task. Despite his focus on insurance, Alex couldn’t “insure” his survival and was the right candidate to be fired this week.

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

The biggest takeaway from this week’s selling task really is simple; if you can’t sell your product or service, you’ll come undone when selling yourself in the business world. It’s important for entrepreneurs and business owners to act on their claims with conviction and prove that what they are promising to clients is actually deliverable.

Following Lord Sugar’s advice is also essential; grasping a strong understanding of the market will help individuals, as well as their businesses, stand out from the competition. Industry knowledge is vital and being up to date is what ensures success.

Bruce Spencer-Knott, Managing Director – Minster Surfacing

Gym equipment, saunas, tanning and massages. Surely all these things are easy to sell at a bodybuilding expo? The candidates proved otherwise this week, which made for some frustrating watching.

Karim, Rick and Alex’s inability to make themselves useful in anyway had an impact on the performance of both teams and their sales reflected that. It just goes to show that a weak link in any area of a business can cause serious problems, but it’s probably important to remember that the environment that they’re doing business in (i.e. not exactly real) heightens that. However, both Sabrina and Sarah Ann should’ve stepped up as PMs to get them in line.

I was expecting the spray tan service to be much more of a disaster than it was, so hats off to Sian, Camilla and Khadija for doing a good job of making sales and not making a complete hash of it. Although Team Typhoon lost, their contribution was much bigger than Sabrina, Daniel and Alex’s.

Team Collaborative didn’t get off to the best start. They rightly lost the gym equipment to the other team because of their inability to ask vendors about anything other than pricing. It’s important to find out that information, but understanding the product is just as crucial so the vendor knows you’re just as passionate as they are about getting their products out there. Their win shows that business doesn’t always go as you expect – it’s about how you bounce back from a loss that counts.

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The Apprentice 2018 – Episode 4 Slides
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Source: BBC.