Interviews

The Apprentice 2018, Episode 7 review - What “real” entrepreneurs think of the candidates this week

20 min read

15 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 week’s episode takes us, the intrepid audience, over the halfway point of this year’s season of The Apprentice.

But before we all get bleary-eyed about its inevitable finale, we must remember that we’re watching The Apprentice, and NOT the X-factor.

With this and all associated thoughts of ‘we mean business’ in mind, let’s have a quick recap of what went down in the world’s most scary business boardroom.

The episode was both riveting yet seasonally inappropriate as Sugar assessed the innate creativity of this season’s contestants by instructing them to ‘sex up’ courtyards around the capital with summery designs.

After putting their ‘gardening business’ hats on, the team were rounded up for (you’ve guessed it) the NEXT round of elimination.

But Sugar was struggling to send anyone home, and for the first time since this season began, he seemed to genuinely struggle with his decision. But alas, a decision had to be made, (he IS Alan Sugar after all) and initial firm favourite Kayode was the next one to bite the dust of business stardom.

So, from ‘wannabe bizcelebs’ to real-time entrepreneurs, let’s look at what the later had to say about this, the latest episode…

-Table of Contents-

Charlie Johnson, CEO & Founder – BrighterBox

I didn’t really get this week’s episode. Urban gardens are expensive due to the skill and labour costs – both of which were in short supply here. Plants and paint are relatively low cost, so I have no idea how Typhoon felt they could charge so much.

This week was another tough one to call. Fair play to Daniel for leading with a decent amount of authority.

He’s stayed true to himself all the way through and has built up respect and bonded well with all the other candidates during the series.

He went in with a high price and managed to keep the client happy. I liked the earthy feel of that urban garden and the bark around the edging would have worked if they had time to build it in properly. PM beginner’s luck, if there is such a thing.

It did have the wow factor though which is probably what won the task for them.

Typhoon had massive problems around pricing. Tom was way too focused on saving a few pennies and totally compromised meeting the client’s expectations whilst Kayode, so chuffed with making £30, couldn’t get his head around the fact that they were making a loss.

Tom took on too much and tried to be everywhere at the same time, meaning there were two half-finished jobs and plenty of balls dropped. Focus on the high-value deal!

Poor Barber Streisand. I wouldn’t like to cross her with a pair of scissors in her hand. Jasmine and Khadija (who owns a cleaning company, right?) did a terrible job of cleaning a fairly small deck.

I thought their afternoon together might have helped them bond, but Jackie made it pretty clear it hadn’t.

Can we discuss Kayode negotiating in a sunflower hat for a second, please? The guy has great energy and enthusiasm but how could anyone take him seriously.

It’s been a little sad to watch Kayode slide out of his depth the last couple of weeks – he’s a B2C salesperson in a B2B role and just couldn’t offer enough. In the boardroom, he descended into a bit of petty name-calling and it was clear his time was up.

Sir Alan’s ‘fire quickly’ approach was absolutely the right way to go. As soon as Kayode’s inability to perform the task required was shown up, he was gone. Thanks for the memories.

Amanda Augustine, Career Advice Expert – TopCV

It was more a case of the green-eyed monster than green fingers in this week’s episode of The Apprentice. The amount of squabbling and back-stabbing that took place during this episode left me feeling disappointed with most of the candidates.

Not surprisingly, for Lord Sugar there were no real stand-out performers.

Tasked with delivering bespoke urban gardens to businesses, there were some basic, but crucial, mistakes made by the contestants in the quest to keep their margins as high as possible.

While it’s essential to turn a profit in business, it should never be at the expense of client satisfaction. Team Typhoon made this grave error and it ultimately brought Tom and his team back into the boardroom.

As the losing team unravelled, the grass wasn’t much greener for Jackie and Khadija, who once again demonstrated their inability to work together.

It’s highly likely that at some point in our careers we will all work with someone whom we don’t naturally get on with. How you manage these types of situations is what differentiates you as a professional and ultimately as a leader.

Toxic relationships can also follow you throughout your career – if they have affected your performance they can make their way into references for future positions.

When faced with the interrogation from Lord Sugar, however, it was clear that it was Kayode who was the most out of his depth. While Tom made basic errors in a sector in which he should have blossomed, Kayode showed a lack of corporate awareness. Failing to consider the value of what he was selling in terms of both time and materials meant he was working at a loss – something he still didn’t seem to grasp in the boardroom.

This rang alarms bells about his strategic thinking, and while he was likeable and able to sell, he exposed himself as being too naïve and inexperienced for the role up for grabs here.

While it’s important to stretch yourself when applying for a new role, fabricating your expertise or ‘fudging it’ will only get you so far.

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

Stacey MacNaught - Content Marketing Consultant

This task needed a good commercial understanding of costs of materials and labour. And in some ways, both teams fell short in that department. But Kayode really stood out as the one with absolutely no grasp on costs and margins.

Typhoon’s defeat was the result of vastly underestimating labour requirements, under delivering by a country mile and wasting time with in fighting.

So the right team lost, for sure.

On team Collaborative, Daniel was a good project manager, on the whole. They at least delivered one project that, despite being impractical, did at least look like a transformation of sorts.

And while I think it might be a little too kind to say he was the “stand out” candidate (since they were all quite poor), I do think he was the best of a bad bunch this week.

The poorest candidate for me, this week, is a tie between Kayode and Khadija. Kayode’s lack of commercial understanding really was exposed this week and Khadija’s fairly aggressive approach, I feel, was a cause of a lot of wasted time and general unprofessionalism.

I was surprised, nonetheless, to see Kayode go, given that his record over the series hasn’t been too bad all. Let’s see what the next couple of weeks bring!

There’s a really key business lesson in all of this – overpromising and under-delivering will never end well.

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

Faced with a task requiring horticulture and heavy lifting, who better to lead manoeuvres than a tree surgeon? Typhoon, led by self-nominated Tom and complemented by the scorching salesmanship skills of Kayode, was a potential dream team. Right up until they started.

Tom’s leadership style of quietly asking everyone what they might prefer to do is not consistent with decisive management.

He failed to plan for the assignment and did not delegate any team member to manage costings. This oversight resulted in Kayode browbeating a client with a frantic pitch culminating in a sorely inadequate quote. Having covered costs for labour only, Kayode was unaware their hanging baskets cost £8 for one, not £8 for 18.

The job cost considerably more to execute than it brought in, a classic rookie mistake illustrating the importance of a little preparation.

Meanwhile, Tom and Sarah-Anne tore through a garden centre to purchase plants. Tom’s decision to choose reduced and/or dead stock – and very little of it – impacted negatively on the promised ‘wow’ factor. As Lord Sugar commented, ‘Elton John’s got more flowers in his downstairs toilet’.

On delivery day Tom and his team waited idle on the riverboat deck as time ticked away, looking for the truck whose driver had been given no directions. By the time stock and equipment arrived there was no time to complete the task adequately and even the decks went only partially cleaned.

So did the right candidate go? In terms of continued suitability for the process, I think so. Kayode is a terrific character and a talented salesman, but he has probably travelled as far as he can this time.

However, if we are focusing on this task then I have to say Tom has escaped yet again, by a whisker. His organisation, leadership and planning skills were non-existent and had he been a competent manager he could have got value out of Kayode.

This episode’s message was NEVER over-promise and then under-deliver. Trying to fob a client off with substandard goods is not a good strategy, even if your pricing has gone up the creek. Your watchword should be over-delivery every time, your reputation and future success depend on it.

Had any of the candidates had sufficient imagination to understand the brief, namely that the clients were happy to pay for a place of escapism and tranquillity, they could have engaged with them more professionally and sold them the moon, (having quickly researched what works best in an urban garden).

I must add a quick nod to the ‘Cannon & Ball’ pantomime pairing of Jackie and Khadija from Collaborative. A whole day to make a small courtyard look like a dog’s breakfast – topped off with the agonising deployment of the leaf blower to redistribute some very, very wet mud. And Khadija owns her own cleaning company!

Martin Talbot, Group Director – Total Jobs

What the winning team did well?

Team Collaborative’s ‘urban garden business’ secured victory by setting the bar high for their corporate work, which gave them a greater profit margin to snatch victory at the final moment.

Project manager Daniel’s strategy to ensure his team focused on the money, and where time should be spent, was key to their success. His leadership was clear, and the team were fully briefed, which meant that even inefficiencies within the sub-team didn’t hinder their overall performance.

What the losing team did badly?

Despite winning the mobile side of the task, team Typhoon’s downfall this week was failing to produce quality work.

Tom’s expertise in this side of the business should have led to an easy win. However, his decision to ignore his own experience and move to the mobile team had a detrimental impact on the group.

This left Sabrina to take charge – despite lacking a real understanding of what was required.

Which candidate stood out in a good way?

Once again, this week Sian stood out for me. She instilled a level of calm and sense which was crucial during pricing negotiations and aimed to ensure profitability within the team.

Her understanding of basic pricing structures highlighted how she tried (in vain) to guide Kayode in the right direction. The way she handled herself was a great example of how candidates can steer the conversation, without overpowering or undermining anyone else.

Which candidate stood out in a bad way?

Khadija notably owns her own eco-cleaning business. However, there was nothing clean or tidy about her performance. She struggled to work cohesively with colleague Jackie, and this ongoing conflict led to her failing to make a positive contribution.

Her biggest error was her poor attempt to jet wash the floor. By her own admission, she ‘made it 10 times worse,’ which is never ideal to admit in the boardroom.

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

Following Tom’s poor decision-making, we want to see candidates making the most of their existing skillset to ensure they play to their own strengths.

Utilising your strongest attributes in any work scenario, as well as working together to learn new skills, will prove more fruitful when successfully completing your next challenge.

Linda Davies Carr, Business Turnaround Coach – TheMasterFixer.com

If it were down to me I would have fired the lot of them. It was by far, the worst challenge ever!

After some completely disastrous attempts to clean and revamp a range of corporate and residential gardens, things only seemed to get worse and worse and the teams were left desperately counting their money in the hope they wouldn’t lose in the boardroom.

From the lack of leadership to the embarrassingly ill prepared pricing strategy, it was a ‘hide behind the sofa’ cringe-worthy episode.

The strongest team by far was Typhoon but their corporate failure lost them the challenge.

Typhoon’s project manager Tom Bunday brought Kayode back into the boardroom along with Sabrina, but I think that the blame lies firmly with Tom. The corporate task is where they lost the lion’s share of the money and the task failed. Tom, failed miserably and in my opinion, he should have gone.

Sabrina is young and inexperienced but nevertheless is one to watch. I’d like to see her as project manager soon as she needs to demonstrate her authority.

The candidate that stands out for me in a bad way is Khadija. Her approach and communication is weak. Shouting and talking over everyone seems to be her only way of operating. She’s descriptive and argumentative – she’s the next to go!

I would really recommend keeping Khadija and Jackie apart – but I expect that the producers will pitch them head to head again as it makes for great, cringe-worthy viewing!

We’re over halfway there and at Week 7 only one woman has been fired to date! In a week when it’s all about girl power and the launch of The Spice Girls reunion concert next year – we are left with 9 candidates – 7 of them women! The coming weeks are going to be explosive!

The brilliant and impactful business takeaways from episode 7 for every entrepreneur and small business owners are in my view:

1. Build a relationship with your clients, build that classic “know, like and trust” approach and build an enduring business relationship – no one likes a hard sell.

2. Always always always underpromise and overdeliver.

3. Always show a ‘joined-up’ approach in front of the client.