The Apprentice: crib notes for the final five

1. Take old ideas and do them better

You need to be able to take an old idea and do it better. None of the tasks on The Apprentice are about coming up with something revolutionary. They’re about identifying what makes money and what does not (in last night’s case, which goods sold and which did not).

2. Have a sound grasp of business concepts

Up until this point, Helen Milligan looked almost unbeatable. Suddenly, she appeared to not know the difference between a retailer and wholesaler, and the relevance of profit percentages and mark-ups appeared to escape her altogether. Natasha Scribbins did not even grasp the fact that the task was all about re-investment. Entrepreneurs have to be “big picture” people and have the vision that will carry their business forward. 

3. Be able to work on your own and as a team 

It is lonely at the top and you have to be strong enough to survive. However, you need to be able to get your team on board and working behind you. Too much ego brought hot favourite Melody Hossaini to the firing range last night.  

4. Have respect for the knowledge and ideas of others

Firstly, no entrepreneur will be good at everything. Secondly, they will not win respect if they do not respect others. Melody and Natasha are the worst offenders here.

5. Show restraint and be a little intuitive

Edna Agbarha showed us the price of no restraint as she happily propounded her expertise at coaching top execs in her final boardroom appearance, despite it being obvious to the viewer that she had failed on her task and that perhaps Lord Sugar was not going to appreciate the suggestion that he needed a coach rather than a business partner. I am sure I was not alone in cringing. 

6. Have huge ambition and drive

All the candidates on The Apprentice wax lyrical on the subject of their ambition and their passion. However, it was hard to be convinced of the steel in the lovely Leon Doyle, who was more interested in Paris and his colleagues’ ability to speak French than winning the task in episode eight

7. Be resilient and keen to learn

This can make for surprising survivors. Tom Pellereau, who has had more boardroom visits than hot dinners and was told by Lord Sugar that if he nods any more “he’ll be put on the back seat of a car”, not only picked himself up but became an unlikely salesman on last night’s task. 

8. Have character

Arrogance and a mistaken belief in your own charm (I’m talking about Vincent, here) fail to impress peers – but a degree of stubbornness, consistency and strong will are absolutely crucial. Susan Ma has shown a tendency to adapt the facts to suit herself (not exactly a loyalty-inspiring trait). Good entrepreneurs must have the strength of character to stay on their feet through the good times and the bad.

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