Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Apprentice series 8 blog by John Moss

So The Apprentice is finally back on our screens and Britain's entrepreneurial elite head to London to compete against each other in set business tasks in order for the winner to go into business with Lord Sugar with funding of 250,000 and Lord Sugar expects the winner to run the business and both partners get 50% equity.

So I guess I'll move on to give my verdict on the sixteen candidates. (Prefer the class of 2011 much more)

1. Adam Corbally - This candidate claims he's a buyer, seller, and manager from being a market trader and owning his own property portfolio. From his experience am expecting Adam to put himself forward as the project manager for the first task which involves buying and selling in London which he claimed, if he puts himself forward for the first task and it goes ludicrous, he's digging a massive hole for himself as Lord Sugar will see that what he does as a day job failed, and he won't dismiss other candidates if they've done their job and if they have experience in another sector.

2. Azhar Siddique - This candidate am definitely going to watch out for, he's at a good age to go into partnership with Lord Sugar, he claims that he can pinpoint solutions to problems and is managing director of his own catering company, out of all the candidates he reminds me of Tom Perllereau (The winner of the previous series) as he seems really calm and intelligent and nearly the same age. Think he has a good chance of reaching the final depending whether Lord Sugar likes him or not.

3. Bilyana Apostolova - So we have a Bulgaria born businesswoman, loved her audition, she seems really likeable and easy to get on with. She seems like a workaholic since she started working from age 6, but she trains entrepreneurs for a living and we have to remember that one of these candidates are going into business, not working for Lord Sugar, I think she'll definitely get far but not sure about being this years winner. Fired - Week one

4. Duane Bryan - Just by watching this chaps audition, I pictured Jim Eastwood (Semi-finalist of the previous series). I think he's very cliché and does what it says on the tin. We all know actions speak a lot louder than words, so I'll be monitoring the performance of this candidate to see if he's the real deal for Lord Sugar, although already running a business, means he should get on well and there's potential he could reach the finals depending if he contributes to every task.

5. Gabrielle Omar - The candidate seems pleasantly decent, I like how she rules her life on gut feelings because I myself am observing that factor at the moment of being somewhere during the future so I take on the same philosophy as her. We'll see how far she can really get.

6. Jade Nash - Think we've found the Melody Hossaini of this years Apprentice. In her audition she was really fast at talking and she mentioned things which weren't needed, like retiring when she's 80 and that people are people at the end of the day. For first impressions she doesn't strike me as a business partner for Lord Sugar, lets see if she's the real "workaholic" she claims.

7. Jane McEvoy - We have a female contestant from Ireland who's surname rhymes with "McIlroy", and I was first confused how she managed to get on the UK version as people living in the republic are meant to apply for the Irish Apprentice with Bill Cullen as the Irish Lord Sugar, and that only people from Northern Ireland could apply to the UK version. Liked how she mentioned how she doesn't do lunch breaks and claims you don't need to lie, cheat and play nasty games to win, and also claims shes more likely to win whether its on a team or the actual process. (Supporting Jane to win out of the women)

8. Jenna Whittingham - I think Jenna is a role model for woman wanting to get into business. She's dyslexic, but that never stopped her from owning her own beauty salon. She can't cook or clean and hasn't been away from home over a week, its interesting to hear that. These facts will make Lord Sugar consider if she'll make a good enough business partner.

9. Katie Wright - Didn't like her in the audition, but that doesn't mean she'll probably be a good competitor on the show. Also being sexist towards men isn't going to make Lord Sugar happy, watch out for her if you love boardroom banter.

10. Laura Hogg - She seems really likeable and nice, she has her own business and she claims that she's going to be one of Scotland's next big exports (Well Iron-bru is a great success but will her idea be more noticeable as a brand). I wouldn't be surprised if she got to the final or even being one of the four finalist itself, I liked her audition and she seems like a great candidate to watch out for.

11. Maria O'Conner - I admire her for having her own restaurant at 19, but saying you could make Lord Sugar love you is like saying you could be the next Richard Branson. I think she's too immature for a business partner, whatever Lord Sugar thinks, I wouldn't go into business with her, I think she's admirable for what she's done though that I give her credit for, think she may've been better off applying for take me out. Fired - Week two

12. Michael Copp - I think Michael performed well on his audition featuring that he's the real mccoy when it comes to being an entrepreneur. Leaving school at 15 with dyslexia has driven him to become a managing director for a bedroom and furniture retailer. He definitely strikes me as someone who's got the ability to make ideas happen, I think Lord Sugar and Michael will get along, lets see if he goes far during the process.

13. Nick Holzherr - A technology entrepreneur, someone Lord Sugar can relate to, exciting. He has lots of hobbies, and he was named "emerging entrepreneur of the year" by Insider Magazine. I'd definitely be really interested in investing in Nick as his ambition is to return the favour by investing into start-up companies. I think he'll be a good investment for Lord Sugar, but can he actually impress him and stand out from the crowd during tasks.

14. Ricky Martin - Yes, there is someone in this years Apprentice called Ricky Martin, but its not the real mr "liven la vida loca".  During his spare time of being a recruitment manager he's a wrestler which means there could be a real smack-down happening in the boardroom this year. He seems like an interesting chap, but not too confident on him reaching the finals.

15. Stephen Brady - Stephen once played in the FA cup as a semi-professional footballer, and his hobbies include learning new languages, writing and reading stories, also his audition was ok. There's not much I can say for him as he's just a sales manager, not sure if he'll last long but it'll be good to see what he's like from other contestants.

16. Tom Gearing - So the youngest male candidate of 23 is a director of a fine wine investment company which has turned over three million pounds which is a great achievement for a 23 year old, he's a golfer and thats something I can relate to as I love golf, but in terms of business we'll have to see whether he's just a one trick pony or a whole field of ponies infact. Tom will get far depending on how he plays the game.

Week 1:

So the first task of the series was to buy blank items such as t-shirts, teddies, jig-saws and create value to them by printing a design. The boys team name was "Phoenix" which was the only suggestion, and it was made by Stephen Brady and the team was managed by Technology Entrepreneur, Nick Holzherr who put himself forward because of the silence when the question was raised on who would project manage the team. (Shocked how Adam said he didn't want to project manage the first task when his day job was relevant to the task). Whilst on the girls team the only name which was suggested was "Sterling" by Jenna because it was suggested by her friend in a dream the night before, it was Architect, Gabrielle who was elected project manager in the end.

So the boys were focused on profit margins, costings, and roughly knew how much stock was needed, whilst on the girls team they were more focused on the design of their blank products.

The boys stack with the design of the union jack on teddy bears and a bus with the text "This is a" then an image of a bus on a bag to flog to the tourist (Could've been more creative) The girls had baby t-shirts, and jigsaw puzzles with the design of animated animals, and they could print naming on to them.

The boys ended up winning the first task for the fourth time out of eight series' (Series 1, 3, 5, and now 8) because of focusing on their profit margin, and sales strategy. The girls lost because they were poorly organised, and they were all confused whilst on the task.

Boys made around £600 pounds worth of profit whilst the girls made around £200 pounds worth of profit. Although the boys had to refund stock sold to a retailer because of poor quality, they did perform well, and Nick is a potential winner after todays episode in my opinion.

Gabrielle, brought back Bilyana because of the negative feedback from candidates which involved leading them to a retailer which lasted a long walk to get no sales from them, and Katie because she didn't get involved in the task (As she claimed she did).

Lord Sugar fired Bilyana because she couldn't shut up and let Lord Sugar talk and convinced herself out of the process, her cover was definitely blown when she mentioned she was head girl. Overall I think Lord Sugar fired the wrong candidate. Katie should have been fired for not participating in the task and standing back from the task and although Lord Sugar was about to fire Katie, it was Bilyana's mouth which made him fire her instead. I'm upset Katie didn't get fired, as I don't personally like her and she didn't do anything on the task and she claimed she did, Lord Sugar has her card marked thats for sure.

Week 2:

Lord Sugar called both teams to head to the Victoria and Albert Museum which is based in Kensington London to inspire them into the art of designing, and that was the concept behind this weeks task, designing and pitching a household gadget, which could be used in the kitchen, toilet, or garden. On team Sterling we had Jane and Kate who stepped up to take the role as project manager, and Jane got most votes clearly because of her performance during the first week unlike Katie who did nothing. For the boys Azhar put himself forward to project manage team Phoenix for the boys  because of his pitching experience and mainly because Lord Sugar highlighted him from the first week as one of the candidates who mentioned on their CV that they'd put themselves forward, so the win was needed for Azhar to buy back Lord Sugars consideration of hiring him as his Business partner.

The boys knew they wanted to do a kitchen idea, whilst Jane was conducting her team to come up with a solution to solve a problem in the bathroom which led to a lot of awkward silence for the team. I honestly think the kitchen has most of the potential, I mean there's only five reasons for me to enter the bathroom as an individual.

Duane, was the brains behind a small recycling bin which can compress everything which can be a lot easier for the average worker who comes home having to recycle products from different bins and a cook wanting to produce their waste. A major trend spotted by the Manchester based entrepreneur. Whilst on the sub-team Adam, and Tom were discouraged by the idea and Adam came up with kitchen gloves with small sponge scourers on the inside which is really innovative and something I've not even thought up of. Overall they were re-inventing the bin according to Ricky.

The girls brainstormed two ideas which were a product to prevent children from splashing in the bath and a board which is attached which they can draw on suggested by Laura, and Katie suggested a product where you can put on your head whilst you're in the bath to relax (Didn't get the full gist of it but it seemed worth of bringing up during the brainstorm).

So the market research came out that Kate's product was the one they'd be interested in but Jane went with Laura's product because of certain issues of designing it.

Pitches for team sterling wasn't as good as I'd thought. Jane led the first pitch and everything was going well until she mentioned if they could do a deal for a million units according to the financial figures which Jenna produced which were eventually wrong and it went so awkwardly quiet in there. For the second pitch by Laura, it was great but the product wasn't liked by the retailer because he mentioned that it could make a mess if the board was drawn on by the child, by this point I knew the boys had it.

Pitches for team Phoenix was led by Stephen and Azhar, and surprisingly the inventor Duane didn't get chosen to speak which caused a bit of blabbing by Stephen when questions were asked about the product, and because Duane was told to not speak he had not choice but to burst out in the end what the product could do and he was right to do that. During the next pitch Stephen learnt his lesson and directed the question of what was the inspiration to come up with the product and Duane and presented himself clearly to them and explained his solution to why he came up with the product idea.

The boys won the task by 13,000 thousand units sold overall compared to 7,500 by team sterling. So Jane bought back Maria because she didn't contribute to the task and she fell asleep in the taxi, and Jenna because she copped up the figures for the first pitch. I think the right decision was made to be fair as the reasons made sense to the failure of the task. Lord Sugar fired Maria because of not contributing to the task, and being all style and no substance. I'd go into business with someone who made a previous mistake than someone who sits back on the fence. But that wasn't all, Lord Sugar was considering a double firing as Jane's product was rubbish, so this took back memories of the previous series when Lord Sugar fired Ellie Reed for not contributing, then Vincent Disneur for certain decisions made. Jade spoke up and convinced Lord Sugar to give her another chance which he did. I think the right decision was made, I knew Lord Sugar wasn't going to go into Business with Maria because she presented herself as immature on her audition and if you think he's going to throw his hard earn't money away to open up a chain of restaurants it'll need major investors for backing and the money would possibly end up in the drain. I also think she convinced him to fire her as she did nothing on the task and in business you have to take control of yourself and set yourself goals for accomplishment.

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