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The Apprentice 2018, Episode 6 review - What “real” entrepreneurs think of the candidates this week

22 min read

08 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?

This weeks episode marked the halfway point of this years season of The Apprentice and if you thought that by this point the team infighting, embarrassing antics and cringe-worthy comments would have let up, even slightly, then you were sorely mistaken.

This week saw both teams tasked with creating a concept, branding materials and TV advertisement for a brand new budget airline.

Kurran headed up Team Collaborative and they ended up with what we can confidently say is one of the worst ideas in Apprentice history. They landed on the idea of an airline called “jet-POP” with something closely resembling a mini explosion in their logo. How they didn’t see the glaringly obvious negative connotations is both deeply worrying and disturbing.

Sabrina led the charge with Team Typhoon. Their idea was less awful, which was no great feat. They went with the mundane concept of a business only airline, complete with an unmemorable tagline and drab, lifeless logo. To their credit, both Sabrina and Kayode did try and inject some much-needed fun into the concept via the advert, but Jasmine was persistent in squashing that in the ad production process, and she was mostly successful. But Kayode did manage to get his “what comes before part B?…PARTAY” line into the ad, and for that we are glad.

In predictable fashion, both teams made a series of calamitous mistakes throughout the episode which culminated in two unbearably awkward presentations in which they unveiled their concept, logo and short TV ad to an auditorium full of airline employees and industry professionals. The one thing both teams had in common was that they were both laughed at with equal vigour from the shrewd panel of pros.

The boardroom was a no holds barred backstabbing match between the candidates of both teams as they found ever more inventive ways of shifting the blame around. There were, however, rare glimpses of humility from candidates like Camilla who sheepishly admitted that the terrible “jet-POP” concept was mostly her idea.

Those of you who have been watching this season for any length of time would have accurately predicted who was going quite early on into this weeks episode. It had to be Kurran, and it was.

The professional poser and master of aloof facial expressions met his demise this week and was swiftly ejected from the process by Lord Sugars infamous index finger.

-Table of Contents-

Linda Davies Carr, Business Turnaround Coach – TheMasterFixer.com

This week didn’t disappoint after Lord Sugar demanded that Kurran put himself as Project manager last week it was inevitable and a predictable result that Captain Kurran and his ego were fired!

I loved the brief this week – create an advertising campaign for a budget airline, and the test was to pitch to industry leaders, simply a genius brief which created some cringing results.

Typhoon went for business, to part – save and prepare and their advert really was a Highway to hell the irony was lost on everyone. Collaborative went for the party travellers – a tragic choice and so badly thought through.

Interestingly the experts, the industry leaders identified Typhoon was the best! In my opinion, it must have been a slim win.

The teams failed to look at the task with fresh eyes – they lost their way, failed to stay connected to the end goal and failed to retain and commercial or practical sense.

Camilla fixated on young and trendy without actually connecting the marketing message to the consumer. Whereas Khadija failed to deliver much but was definitely very vocal and was described as disruptive, whilst she claims she’s passionate.

I’d love to see Khadija actually execute and deliver something, and given the chance to excel in her own right as opposed to hearing her position as argumentative. Interestingly I would be interested to see how Lord Sugar handles a passionate and empowered businesswoman as opposed to positioning her as argumentative or disruptive.

In anyone’s definition Kurran is not a leader, he couldn’t motivate his team, he couldn’t communicate his vision. He could not galvanise his team – he just can’t lead. The question is who is the next Apprentice joker?

Both teams failed to excel this week – how could they both make the fundamental errors in getting distracted by the hype and the fun, and failed to commercially sense check the outcome and connect the task and the outcome to the project brief.

The brilliant and impacting business takeaways from episode 6 for every entrepreneur and small business owners are in my view:

  • Stay in your lane – stay focused on the goal, don’t let your personal agenda divert your focus.
  • As a leader ensure that you can articulate your vision and make sure everyone is on board!
  • Build in time to sense check all your outputs.

Charlie Johnson, CEO & Founder – BrighterBox

What the winning team did well. 

They were a slightly more cohesive unit, took fewer risks and played things relatively straight, perhaps a reflection of Sabrina’s approach to project management.

What the losing team did badly

Jackie and Camilla failed to identify any target audience, instead focusing on a very 1980s approach to air travel. Times have changed, trolly dollies are a thing of the past and tackiness doesn’t sell particularly well. Cheap pricing is fine but this was cheap branding.

Which candidate stood out in a good way

I’m gunning for Daniel. He was supportive and encouraging and generally a great team player, despite having to work alongside Kurran and Khadija, who were both totally lacking in professionalism.

Which candidate stood out in a bad way.

How did Kurran make it this far in the competition? He’s got front and – for what it’s worth – some creative instincts but never really tried to ingratiate himself with the rest of the candidates and nobody bought into him or his ideas.

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

Think about what your customers value the most. Air travellers want price, convenience, safety and comfort. And a G&T – but only if the other needs are met!

Question: Was the right person fired this week?

 

Amanda Augustine, Career Advice Expert – TopCV

Well, as Lord Sugar said, the team name ‘Collaborative’ is becoming increasingly less so as the weeks go on.

Although Team Typhoon wasn’t much better on this front, collaboration was almost impossible under Kurren’s oppressive leadership. The branding team made some unforgivable mistakes, particularly with the uniforms. But, it was Kurren’s iron fist that led the team’s vision to crash and burn. The ‘Collaborative’ team leader failed to take on the feedback from previous weeks and continued to appear apathetic throughout most of this week’s task. His dismissive leadership style made it nigh on impossible for his team to express their opinions or challenge his decisions in any way – apart from Pangea-gate!

Aside from presenting himself as the least-worst option against Camilla, Kurren’s laid back, lacklustre approach to the pitch left much to be desired. For me though, his biggest shortcoming was an inability to accept criticism. In the world of business, this is crucial – you won’t get far without the ability to take feedback on board.

One major learning this week was to ‘show, don’t tell’. Instead of repeatedly telling people that you’re ‘passionate’, a ‘natural leader’ or any other number of overused cliches, let your actions demonstrate your skills. Churning out buzzwords in the boardroom, during a job interview, or even on your CV won’t impress anyone. Actions speak louder than words. Khadija may feel she is a passionate person, but she clearly wasn’t able to demonstrate it well enough during this week’s task.

Although Collaborative’s branding was technically more creative than Typhoon’s, I’d have to agree with Karren, that the cabin crew’s job is to ensure the comfort and safety of passengers not to ‘dolly up’. In the era of #metoo, Camilla and Jackie got the sentiment of the time totally wrong.

What can we take away from this week’s episode? Aside from common sense, so often people fail to look at their offering objectively with ‘fresh eyes’. It’s all well and good thinking you’ve created an earth-shattering product or service but if the customer isn’t interested or doesn’t get it, then it’s irrelevant. When selling your ideas or yourself, always put yourself in the shoes of the person sitting opposite, and ask yourself: what problem am I trying to solve for them? Am I offering something they actually want? Don’t get so caught up in the creative process that you lose sight of your primary goal: to meet the needs of the end audience.

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

Stacey MacNaught - Content Marketing Consultant

Kurran finally got his marching orders and quite rightly so. But Typhoon’s fairly smug delight at winning was a little unwarranted. After all, they really only won it because they were just a little less terrible than Collaborative.

Both teams seemed to miss the brief in a lot of ways. Kurran’s instruction to his sub-team to “keep it chic,” seemed at odds with Lord Sugar’s clear instruction of branding a budget airline, while Typhoon’s pitch ended in them talking about how they’d deter a core market (families!) from flying with them altogether.

What Typhoon did do better is to make it clear that they were an airline! They went for a practical uniform (even if it were indeed basically just a copy of the Emirates one). And they did choose to market an airline to a defined audience, even if it felt a bit “off the money” for a budget airline. Collaborative, on the other hand, were almost selling a nightclub experience. As pointed out by the experts in the pitch, this had serious safety concerns in the promotion of alcohol and partying at 35,000 feet. The uniform was a disaster too. So impractical.

The worst performer of the week, for me, was Kurran. He was very poor. Essentially tearing up the storyboard and ad-libbing the ad when they got to filming cost them the task. Lord Sugar pointed out that Typhoon only won it because he could at least tell with “fresh eyes,” what their ad was about. But Kurran’s ad-libbed ad was completely random and made no sense.

For me, there were no particularly great candidates this week. Kyode and Jackie both did well in the pitches, despite having some difficult questions they couldn’t really answer satisfactorily.

But I think it was a poor performance all round on the whole.

If we’re going to take anything away from the advertising task, it’s that businesses in every sector, of every size need a very clearly defined brand message that is simple and understandable for someone encountering the brand for the first time.

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

What a vintage week for the Apprentice this was. At last Kurran steps up to the plate like a bandaged Bollywood hero, in the tailor-made task of brainstorming and directing an ad for a new budget airline. Again, it was depressing how little market research either team considered necessary before getting their teeth firmly into the project. Kurran is a lovely guy whose inertia has been a joy to watch over the past few weeks and his management style did not disappoint.

He dumped all responsibility for the new airline uniform on to Camilla and Jackie whilst he concentrated on the creation of a killer advert, a task well within his unique skill set. Having been sidelined on his strange proposal that the airline be called ‘Pangea’ he then dismissed the storyboard which had taken hours to work up and decided to direct his ad freestyle, going with the flow.

The results speak for themselves. The uniform was a ‘wipe clean’ swimsuit, the ad was stilted – and showing a dishevelled airline pilot stopping to pick up a bottle of fizz pre-flight hardly sends out the right messages. Most disturbing of all was the name and logo – ‘JetPop’ depicted with classic ‘Boom!’ emoji. The assembled airline CEO’s laughed like drains, a response which passed over Kurran’s head like a low-flying plane.

As for the other team and their inspired ‘Manage-Air’ option for the frustrated business traveller, again, not researched whatsoever, with the option of a businessman working in the ‘toilet’ for a bit of peace  and a borderline Masonic logo, their biggest downfall was the cabin crew uniform which looked like a washing basket in a high wind. For me, the most depressing aspect of the overall performance was that both teams did enlist some public appraisal but any suggestions offered were ignored all the way.

I agree with Lord Sugar that performances all round were ‘diabolical’. Did the right candidate leave? I think so, much as I love Kurran, but must add that Camilla and Jackie escaped by the skin of their teeth. As Karen commented, ‘Cabin staff are there to ensure the safety of the passengers, not to be dollied up’.

Khadija came in for a pasting in the boardroom for non-contribution and being argumentative. To be fair, had she had been effectively managed that wouldn’t have happened.

This was a gift of a task for our thespian, Kurran, and a chance for creative team members to shine. The lesson here is that creativity is a wonderful thing but it does need to be tempered by market research, respect for your customer and fundamental concerns such as practicality, health and safety and sustainability.

Martin Talbot, Group Director – Total Jobs

What the winning team did well?

Team Typhoon struggled to break new ground in the ‘business flyer’ market, relying on a reinvention of the Emirates uniform and an out of touch advert. Yet, importantly, the team produced a nearly-cohesive ad campaign. Working effectively as a team, Typhoon recognised that there is a balance to strike between leadership and collaboration. 

What the losing team did badly?

The losing team was, fundamentally, working on two separate campaigns, neither of which had oversight of the market it was aiming for. Kurran’s lack of strong leadership meant that there were a number of messy changes throughout the task, but his tunnel vision sealed the deal for his exit. When the team flagged that ‘Fly Pangea’ may not be the best name, Kurran should have taken it on board, rather than dismissing it.

Which candidate stood out in a good way?

For me, Sian really stood out this week. While the uniform she led on wasn’t particularly original, she proved herself to be articulate, decisive and a great team player. Sian hasn’t been a particularly loud or controversial candidate so far, but now that a number of the more outspoken candidates have exited the process, she may just be one to watch. 

Which candidate stood out in a bad way?

While it may be his arm in a sling, Kurran stuck out like a sore thumb in this episode.In theory, strong, decisive leadership can really help build a team up, but Kurran’s one-track mind took this to the extreme and he was not open to hearing new ideas from Team Collaborative. If Kurran had been more explicit to the team about his vision from the start, the team would have had clearer interpretations of the brand it was ultimately going to be working with.  

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

  • Questioning your manager’s ideas can be great and most leaders will enjoy and appreciate it, but make sure you find out afterwards exactly what it is they’ve decided to run with and why.
  • Similarly, if you’re a leader, make sure to sound out your ideas with those closest to you, and heed your team’s feedback if it isn’t as rosy as you hoped. Seeing beyond what you perceive to be the best solution is essential. This ensures you have properly considered all potential routes to take that might ultimately perform better.
  • And finally, understand your market. It’s imperative that you know what will fly with consumers.