Interviews

The Apprentice 2018, Episode 8 review - What “real” entrepreneurs think of the candidates this week

21 min read

22 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 saw the remaining Apprentice contestants head to sunny Glasgow to try their hands at flogging paintings.

Tasked with trying to sell the works of a series of paintings by selected artists to both private and corporate clients, as we watched on, we wondered if any of them had the business and, er, cultural acumen, to be able to make it in the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of art-dealership…

It’s no wonder that Lord Sugar is trying to see just HOW multitalented this year’s contestants are, as, after all, we are well over halfway through this season, and if successful entrepreneurs are anything, they’re certainly not one-trick ponies, they must be multitalented, flexible and industrious.

But who didn’t make the cut this week? Well, it was Jasmine Kundra’s turn to face the wrath of Lord Sugar’s angry finger…

As project manager of (yah boo sucks to you) the losing side, team Typhoon, she was unable to get her shmooze game on in order to gel with the artists the team was to be working with.

And considering that sophisticated social acumen and solid business ambassadorship are vital in order to succeed in the art world, the lack of these skills in team Typhoon meant that Kundra and her subjects found themselves at the bottom rung of this week’s episode.

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

A penny for the thoughts of any Glaswegian viewers who had to put up with some awful attempted Scottish accents and a deep fried Mars Bar jibe. No wonder they’ve campaigned for independence.

So, this week we said goodbye to Jasmine. Definitely the right decision as she never connected with anyone in her team.

Her corporate style was too much for Lord Sugar and she lacked any real warmth or compassion, so nobody really bought into her.

I can see how her style would fit a learning and development role; she’s very confident, articulate and strategic but just didn’t gel with anyone and wasn’t a team player.

Sabrina’s inexperience and naivety was again on show, as she waved around her merchandise in front of the top price piece like a pesky street vendor outside the [insert popular tourist attraction here].

Tom and Sabrina are both on a bad run but have shown enough potential to stay alive in the competition, for now (Lord Sugar showing that he values entrepreneurial spirit over corporate training by keeping both the business owners in – shock!).

Daniel and Jackie are probably the two best all-rounders left in the show, and their quality shone through as their sales skills made up for the really poor meeting the sub-team had with the Linn, the makers of luxury sound systems.

Sarah Ann showed a nervy side when she talked over the music, she was way too eager to pitch her ideas, became a little flustered and forgot to listen and absorb what the client was actually saying.

A timely reminder of the importance of listening to selling. Two ears and one mouth?

Amanda Augustine, Career Advice Expert – TopCV

Another week has come and gone for Lord Sugar’s candidates to show off their business acumen. This week’s task, to curate and sell fine art to a corporate client and the public, initially felt like one the candidates could get their teeth stuck into. However, we saw many of the same mistakes from weeks gone by.

From speaking over each other (*cough* Jasmine), to failing to share vital client information, the teams struggled to work as a team and communicate effectively.

 Listening and being attentive to the client was a major element of the challenge. Listening is a skill, almost a fine art you could say, which many of the candidates have yet to master. Collaborative failed to relay the overarching messages from the client brief to the sub-team, which resulted in the wrong choice of product.

Whether you are selling yourself, a product or a service, it’s vital you understand who you are selling to and what it is they are looking for. While the team managed to lock in the client sale eventually, this had more to do with the rapport Sian had built in the initial consultation than on the strength of the product. 

When making a long-term, expensive purchase, a client will no doubt expect a bit of schmoozing. Jasmine, however, demonstrated what can happen when you mishandle a delicate situation – almost reacting in glee when she needed to inform the corporate client that she had sold their preferred piece from under their nose.

The client should have been treated like they were the most special people in the room – not as an afterthought.

Ironically, given she didn’t handle this situation well at all, Jasmine’s biggest downfall was perhaps the fact that she’s too ‘corporate’ in her approach and, unfortunately, that doesn’t suit every task. In business, you have to be a chameleon and adapt to whatever the situation requires. 

That said, I was still surprised to see Jasmine leave over Sabrina. I feel she had a more solid foundation to build on than Sabrina, who showed her immaturity this week, sometimes forcing issues too much and coming across as unprofessional as a result. And as for Tom, maybe he has a phenomenal business plan. Because, with no sales and very little contribution, Lord Sugar must know something we don’t!

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

Stacey MacNaught - Content Marketing Consultant

I’m quite disappointed that we haven’t yet seen a double firing! But I do think the right candidate went this week.

It all started going wrong when the team chose Jasmine as project manager, I think. Tom comes from a family of artists and made this clear. That would give him insight into what artists want to hear from prospective reps and give them real cues into how to best pitch to represent them.

But on the basis that Jasmine “loves art,” they went with her.

Her first decision as project manager was to keep herself and Tom together, leaving the subteam without anyone who had any experience in or exposure to the art world. And I think that was where it started to go wrong.

Meanwhile, the other team had Jackie in charge. And for her shortcomings in the past week or two, the one thing Jackie exhibits consistently is decisiveness – something you really do need to be an effective project manager.

However, despite the fact I personally really like Jackie and think she’s a real contender, the best candidate for me this week was Daniel. The way he spoke to the artists was brilliant and the excellent commission they secured really was his work!

The word candidate really was Jasmine, in my view. She was unprofessional, failed to listen to her teammates and was ultimately incredibly destructive. The right candidate went.

The overwhelming lesson any business can take from this is simply to listen to those around you. If you’re leading a team, you’re not there just to tell them all what to do.

Teams work best when everyone has a role and can be heard.

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

Wow, what a week! Jasmine, a beautiful cross between an Indian Goddess and Miss Jean Brodie, wielded her corporate credentials and was thoroughly shot down in flames by not only the Sugar Babes but her own team.

No-one was more bewildered than Jasmine at her fall from grace, and it was sad to watch her distress, but the axe fell appropriately.

I’m sure I am not alone in my amazement that Tom is still standing! In the cringe-worthy scenario of ‘lumberjack meets art’, his appraisal of the hidden passion within a painting did not disappoint. “To me, feelings and emotions are deep”. Delivered with gravitas to the artist who goggled back.

This week – a pitched battle between the corporate approach that Jasmine brings to the party, and the entrepreneurial instinct that Lord Sugar is seeking. Jasmine lost out. It was inevitable. Had there been any room for compromise in her tactics, she could have spotted that having a bird in the hand was the way to win here.

Typhoon were down on manpower, having only a team of four. Had she relaxed enough to let Sabrina and Sian join in with the big ticket sales and leave the tat for later, she could have coasted on the relationship already seeded by her teammates with the deep-pocketed spenders and wiped the floor with Collaborative.

This task was judged on results, ie commission, not how many tea towels you could shift. Talking of Collaborative: despite Jackie’s bluster about her familiarity with the art world, it was Daniel’s golden tongue which won the task.

He was B/S personified, and boy did it keep coming. If this is an example of entrepreneurial flexibility, he da man.

He adapted seamlessly to the task and left the motor running, cheerfully admitting later that he knew ‘f/all about art’. In Daniel, we saw someone who, although he was way out of his comfort zone in terms of product knowledge, leapt in like Tigger and stole the show.

Meanwhile, Jasmine, for all her poise and confidence, fell flat by not adopting her rigid rules and not listening. Her tactics, always to storm through and do everything to her own greater glory, backfired when the client was briefly torn between two big ticket items and Jasmine promptly sold one to a casual shopper.

Tom, threatened with his own eviction, didn’t just throw her under the bus he took quite a run-up. His objections were valid, but anyone who can look at a sculpture of an upturned duck’s bottom with the sales pitch “What is this, and where is it going?” is not up for any prizes himself.

So what did we learn this week? We learned that if a client tells you their motto when buying artwork is ‘Innovation, Provenance, Experience’, you really need to understand that ‘provenance’ does not mean what province you live in.

We learned that saying ‘Go Big or Go Home‘ ends in going home if you don’t adapt and listen and we learned that committed energy wins the day, even if it’s B/S.

Martin Talbot, Group Director – Total Jobs

What the winning team did well?

Selling well to the public was key to team Collaborative securing victory. Headed up by PM Jackie, relentless sales tactics – even at the expense of their corporate client brief – led to winning commission during the art task in Glasgow. They worked well together as a team, and their understanding of the overall goal meant they surpassed the rival team.

What the losing team did badly?

Team Typhoon continued their losing streak by failing to understand how to engage with their audience. Sabrina displayed a poor understanding of the task by attempting to sell cheap merchandise in front of an expensive sculpture, which summarised the team’s inability to connect with this artistic challenge.

It was disappointing to see the team fail to gel together or adapt to the skills needed to make this task a success.

Which candidate stood out in a good way?

Tom was a diplomatic and a positive influence on the team, by helping to bridge the disruption between team Typhoon’s PM and the sub-team. He demonstrates the right way to assert an opinion to more forceful team members and personalities.

I’d like to see more from Tom as the competition hots up; I think his calm approach and confident style makes him a dark horse in Lord Sugar’s hunt for his next business partner. 

Which candidate stood out in a bad way?

Jasmine, PM of the losing team, didn’t quite live up to her high standards compared to previous weeks. She failed to capture Lord Sugar’s imagination in the boardroom with her corporate talk and inability to immerse herself in the art world.

My advice to candidates is to learn from Jasmine’s elimination by showing your personality during the recruitment process.

Hiring is a two-way street, and you should be the right fit for each other. Using overly filtered language or behaviour is something to avoid when trying to prove you’re the right person for a new role or team. 

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

It’s a hard balance to strike between displaying professionalism and showing your true personality in the workplace. However, getting this right is an ongoing learning curve for everyone, so try different techniques and find out what balance works best for you.

Managing how to speak up and voice your opinion without becoming disruptive or difficult to work with can be challenging. We recommend picking your battles carefully and working out which issues are worth pressing and which are best left alone for the sake of the team.

Linda Davies Carr, Business Turnaround Coach – TheMasterFixer.com

Who would have known the global art market was worth a staggering £47 billion? This week’s task couldn’t have been more diverse – high-end abstract art to contemporary sculpture pieces. The results were equally staggering.

It was a shock to everyone in my home who watched Jasmine Kundr get fired this week, except me! She quickly put herself forward as the team leader and although she asked for feedback and contribution, she followed her own path.

She is a lone wolf. There is no evidence of her being a team player – and in my opinion, that makes a weak leader.

Jasmine’s corporate background is holding her back, whether you believe an entrepreneurial spirit is nurture or nature is irrelevant.

As Baroness Brady puts it, it’s about working a business, finding an opportunity and adapting your approach. Jasmine, in my opinion, has one style and only one style. Her rigid and inflexible approach would work well – but in an environment that requires entrepreneurial skills.  

For team Collaborative, Jackie talked a good game and effortlessly got the project manager job. She was definitely most knowledgeable qualified – she excelled in this task. She worked well with her team and built a great relationship with their chosen artist.

Although they failed to impress their corporate buyer they pulled their team efforts and energy to excel at selling to the public – and did incredibly well as sales were more than double Typhoon’s.

A thought needs to go out to Sabrina. She built great rapport with their corporate client and her youth and enthusiasm is enticing. But when under pressure her lack of ability to read both people and the situation highlights her immaturity, whereby she comes across as unprofessional.  

The most important takeaway from episode eight this week is TEAMWORK!

  • Build rapport with people, both suppliers and clients alike.
  • Listen to your clients and your team – they have the answers.
  • Team effort always outperforms a solo effort. There is no “I” in team.