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The Apprentice 2018, Episode 5 review - What “real” entrepreneurs think of the candidates this week

20 min read

02 November 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 5 of The Apprentice 2018 saw the candidates jump into the hyper-competitive world of women’s footwear. Both teams were tasked with designing and marketing a brand new shoe. This included both teams putting on a launch event to convince seasoned industry players that their amateurish and hurried attempts at creating new shoes were worth an investment.

As has become customary, this episode was brimming with common sense mistakes, with viewers witnessing a slew of glaringly obvious errors from both sides that we’re sure had the majority of them shouting expletives at their TV/laptop screens in disbelief.

And of course, this episode followed previous ones with the usual peppering of puns, one-liners and out of touch, cringe-worthy comments from the candidates throughout. And there was plenty of the routine explosive arguments and shameless backstabbing in the boardroom too.

But what do the real entrepreneurs and business leaders in the UK think of the candidates performances this week? Which candidates do they think put their best foot forward (sorry, we couldn’t resist) and what do they think of the ones that were left playing footloose with the truth (again, sorry) in the boardroom in a desperate bid to survive to see another week…

-Table of Contents-

Charlie Johnson, CEO & Founder – BrighterBox

What the winning team did well.

Picking a project manager with experience in ladieswear was a good move and even though Camilla and Daniel were more dominant characters, she managed the team in a genuine and cohesive way. I really liked the choice of venue and thought Khadija showed some grit. Even after Sabrina embarrassed her in front of a potential buyer, that same buyer eventually agreed to a sale so all was not in vain.

What the losing team did badly.

There was an uneasy undercurrent of negativity in Jackie’s team throughout – from everyone but her – which seemed to be the catalyst for mistake after mistake after mistake. From Kurran bottling the PM role to Rich bickering with Jasmine and Kayode not listening to the buyer’s question about marketing. Whilst Jackie’s sales skills were truly exceptional, she failed to get the team to buy into her vision.

I know Kayode likes a football analogy: if the players aren’t performing, you have to look at the manager.

Which candidate stood out in a good way.

Tom was very strong and clear on pricing and stuck to his guns – he believed in the product’s value. Daniel, who had been equally vocal about sticking to the pricing, buckled and agreed a lower rate – then let Sian take the rap in the boardroom.

Which candidate stood out in a bad way.

“I think Lord Sugar made the wrong choice in firing myself.”

That sentence in itself justified the decision. Rick was totally unprofessional, argumentative and disruptive, choosing the wrong times to try and assert himself. He didn’t bring any value whatsoever, so I couldn’t believe that Jackie didn’t bring him back in with her. Kurran was sulky – he’s young – but I’m glad he was given another shot to prove why he’s still in the show.

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

Leaders need to get their teams to buy into their visions and believe in the offering. If nobody in the sales team can sell the product – even if the CEO can – the business will never be able to grow.

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

Rick has been kicked out of the process at last! Not only has he done the minimum amount of work over the past couple of weeks but his attitude to his fellow candidates and potential clients has been terrible. His bad ideas and willingness to be argumentative definitely contributed to Team Collaborative’s demise. In fact, that was his only contribution!

I was shocked that Jackie chose Kayode and Kurran to join her back in the boardroom because I actually think they’re two of the better candidates in the process, so I was pleased Lord Sugar overturned her decision. They both have a lot to prove next week – for Kayode, he needs to demonstrate that he’s adaptable and not just scripted charm, while Kurran has to do a great job as PM to show that he can lead from the front.

In fact, Kurran was probably my stand out candidate this week. Although I think he should’ve taken the opportunity to be PM this week, his ideas throughout were valid and Team Collaborative would’ve had a much better chance of winning if some of his ideas were taken on board. Jackie’s outdated shoe aesthetic was poorly thought out and was yet another example of the candidates being unable to look past their own tastes and cater to their markets.

Similarly, over in winning team Typhoon, Sian let Camilla and Daniel push their opinions on to the project which left them with a childish design that was far from her original carnival theme and out of touch with their demographic. If Sian had stuck to her guns and created a vibrant, eye-catching shoe for millennials who love a bit of Instagram-worthy footwear, they could’ve made even more sales.

I was honestly surprised that any of the retailers at either of the events were interested in the shoes that were designed, especially when the marketing was so weak and mismatched. Knowing your audience and how you’re going to market your product is absolutely crucial to pique the interest of buyers, so both teams were lucky that this was magically overlooked by the bigwigs.

There was a lot of bickering and unprofessionalism in this episode across the board, which is probably a mixture of intentional drama for the show and a bit of a ‘survival of the fittest’ attitude that will creep in more and more as each week passes. From failing to stick to agreed pricing to standing into last-minute design changes, this episode was a messy as Rick’s canapes.

Question: Was the right person fired?

 

Amanda Augustine, Career Advice Expert – TopCV

“I’m sure viewers were as shocked as me when that horrendous pink trainer won this week’s task! Poor design aside, however, there were plenty of other terrible decisions being made in this episode.

Firstly, both teams failed to grasp that when designing a product, it’s imperative that you agree on who your audience is going to be before you do anything else. How can you sell your product – or yourself – without identifying this essential detail?

There was also a great deal of negativity to be found in Week 5. Negative team members, as we saw in Rick and Kurran, can have a detrimental impact on the team dynamic. Failing to take any accountability whatsoever is a punishable offence in my book, as is constantly highlighting problems without suggesting solutions. This is why I was so shocked to see Kurran avoid ‘the boot’. In an effort to distance himself, he used all his energy to criticise his team members and the product wherever possible, despite failing to sell a single shoe himself.

Fortunately for Kurran, however, the blunt, ‘tell it like it is’ approach that Rick adopted seemed to eclipse his shortcomings. While sometimes it’s important to get straight to the point, it won’t work every time. You often need to mirror the behaviour of others to connect with them and make the sale. Rick failed dramatically in this respect and just looked petulant and rude.

As I remind job seekers all the time, it’s not just in the pitch, interview or boardroom where you will be judged. Just as you would be polite and courteous to a receptionist walking into an interview, how you respect and interact with others can also get you hired or fired.”

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The Apprentice 2018 – Episode 5 Slides
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Source: BBC

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

Stacey MacNaught - Content Marketing Consultant

How is Kurran still in the process? That’s the question I’m asking myself this morning. I felt certain even before the episode aired that if he found himself on the losing team, Kurran would absolutely be fired.

He was, by far and away, the weakest candidate this week. From the very outset, shirking the PM role and then, frankly, just whining his way through the rest of the task. He was incredibly poor and managed, somehow, to talk himself through to next week. The price tag there, of course, is that Lord Sugar is forcing him to be PM. We’ll see how that works out in time!

The best performing candidate, for me, was also on the losing team. Jackie was outstanding last night. She dived right into a PM role without any prior knowledge or experience. She was a brilliant salesperson and she was incredibly organised as well. Her only mistake, I think, was to bring Kyode back into the boardroom, which ultimately resulted in Lord Sugar overriding her decision.

The losing team lost simply because they only really had one strong seller. It felt like there should have been more of a team effort on that front.

I don’t think the winning team did anything particularly extraordinary though. When Sian delegated the naming of the product to the subteam who had never even seen the product, it was a head in hands moment and I felt they’d probably lose.

If there’s anything we can take away from this week’s episode and learn from, it’s that sitting back and letting everyone else do the work doesn’t cut it for long. Rick saw that last night and I expect Kurran will meet the same fate soon.

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

Week 5 is here and it’s designer shoe week, and right from the off, I was surprised to see Kurran turn down the chance of being Project Manager, especially when time is running out for him to shine.

As Lord Sugar said: “I don’t know about oil tankers, but I’m sure I could sell one if I needed to.” In simple terms, using the excuse about not knowing your product 100% just won’t cut it in the real world. Leaders have to evolve and you would have hoped that he had some transferable skills to make it work. Anyway, it’s great to see he is getting his chance in week 6 to lead his troops, as deep down I feel he has more to offer than we have seen so far.

So back to the task, and I have to admit I’m no expert in the ladies shoe department unless you count carrying my wife’s shoe boxes that is! However, I was really surprised to see team Typhoon’s childlike shoes win over the clearly more universal appealing pair from Team Collaborative.

So how and why did a team that was so clearly fragmented with the likes of Daniel and Sian selling at any price to get a deal which in the real world is unlikely to have been the best course of action, end up winning? And if you add Sabrina and Khadija’s argument in front of a customer which was downright unprofessional, I am somewhat confounded. Business is all about sales and the pressure at times can be enormous, but Team Typhoon really let themselves down in my opinion despite eventually winning on the night.

So who deserved to be fired on Team Collaborative? Well, clearly the likeable straight talking Rick could not argue that with no sales in 2 weeks his head was on the block, but then again was it Jackie – the PM, that let the team down by not putting the right people in place, even though she achieved most of the sales herself and is clearly very talented in that arena.

So this is a tough one for me, I agree that Rick had to go simply based on the stats, but at the same time, I feel that Jackie could have used her obvious skillset better and motivated Team Collaborative more to allow them to take crown last night.

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The Apprentice 2018 – Episode 5 Slides
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Source: BBC.

Linda Davies Carr, Business Turnaround Coach – TheMasterFixer.com

I thought Week 5 would be a great episode – what women don’t want the opportunity to design their own shoe? What did we get, a random urban high heel and a trainer for a 4 year old!

Both teams failed to excel this week – how could they both make the fundamental error in not identifying their target market?

Honestly, I didn’t expect Typhoon to win with their toddler trainer, but they pulled together and the key was that everyone played their part and everyone sold something! Having a pricing and sales strategy is key, but stick to the plan and don’t undermine your team. Have an agile plan and ensure you communicate all changes.

Jackie, in my opinion, did a great job this week with a very weak team. She was strong, decisive, made the lion’s share of the sales. Kayode had an “unfortunate” week, but was saved by his previous ability – let’s see whether it was just a “blip” or whether he’s had his best weeks. As a sub-team leader, Rick made a poor impression on clients and was a “winger and winer!” He felt he was thrown under the bus by Kurran, they were both equally weak.

In an interesting twist, Lord Sugar rejected Jackie’s decision to bring just Rick & Kurran back into the boardroom and brought back everyone who had failed to sell anything. Thus confirming his opening statement “make me money.” Although Rick and Kurran were most definitely the weakest contributors. In the end, the right candidate was fired, but yet again Kurran managed to avoid his expected exit. I reckon it’s only a matter of time and he’s being kept in for TV drama. He’s the one everyone is talking about and who the public are venting their frustration towards. Let’s see how he gets on next week as PM.

The brilliant and impacting business takeaways from episode 5 for every entrepreneur and small business owners are in my view:

  • Identify your target market first and foremost
  • Nail your ideal client and build your marketing to appeal to the client
  • Make sure everyone in the team contributes
  • Have a clearly defined sales plan and communicate any changes

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The Apprentice 2018 – Episode 5 Slides
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Source: BBC.