After three months of firings, Lord Sugar is ready to say the words “you’re going to be my business … [+]
Lord Sugar summons the two front-runners to the heart of London’s financial district to set them their final challenge to win his £250,000 investment.
After twelve gruelling weeks of tasks testing various business skills, the two final candidates Scarlett Allen-Horton and Carina Lepore go head to head to pitch their business idea to Lord Sugar in the hope of winning his investment and business partnership.
In an intensive three-day challenge, the finalists must create a new brand for their company, produce a digital billboard and direct and edit a television advert before pitching to Lord Sugar and a room full of industry experts at London’s City Hall. But first, they need to pick which ones of the former candidates will support them in this endeavor.
Scarlett’s business is an executive search/recruitment agency focused on the niche of women and minorities in STEM careers.
Carina’s business is a family run bakery, which she wishes to turn into a household name in the baker world à la Greggs.
The Apprentice Final: Business Lessons
Here are some of the lessons that stood out for me during the show:
Every year you see the candidates in the final scrambling to try to come up with a new and exciting name for their brand. For the audience at home, you may be thinking, why didn’t these idiots think of name in advance? The answer is we do, but the issue of TV entertainment and trademark law issues often rears its ugly head. The names you choose may have already been taken and the legal advisors jump in, or so production tells you.
What baffles me is, when I went through the process you were not allowed to bring an existing brand onto the show, it had to be a new idea. But now that you are allowed to use an existing brand, why can’t they use the existing name? I can only assume, they don’t want the possible loser to benefit from the branding exercise of being on TV.
Seems like an unfair rule when they kept saying other brands, like Greggs and moxie loves, repeatedly !
Does a bakery owner need to bake?
This comes up time and time again in this episode and the last one.
As an entrepreneur there will always be times when you start a business and you are not the manufacturer of the product or your hire people to deliver the service. In that scenario yes you do need to have a handle on the process, preferably end to end. BUT you hire for expertise. You need to know what bread flavour you want and how to market it but you DO NOT need to do the baking or finalize the recipe as the CEO.
And it’s ludicrous to make it appear so.
The Apprentice finalist Carina Lepore.
In my business, I know what I want from a log/design. I have to describe it but I don’t have to finalize it! I don’t need to be the logo maker. Nor do I manufacture the hosiery for my brand myself. Entrepreneurs/CEOs hire talent for a reason.
The panel of experts kept being so persistent about Carina not being a baker, and her father being the sole baker but the reality is with any brand (Greggs, Pret a Manger, Busaba, Starbucks etc) they have a recipe or they probably have a centralised kitchen to ensure consistency. Centralized baking is the option or on site baking with specified recipe. I bet some of the larger chains bake from frozen half baked. That is part of the scaling process.
Just as a chef doesn’t necessary result in a successful restaurant chain (Jamie Oliver springs to mind—no negativity intended on him, as I think he is great) but it proves the point that many a successful restaurant brand is built without a chef at the helm.
This is TV and it is a competition so there has to be an element of entertainment, in a real life context a CEO would not have to decide on the whole brand in three days. Nor would they leave the branding exercise to novices without any input. They are trusting in their team to make good decisions for them and to understand their vision. The lesson here is to ensure your vision is communicated with absolute clarity.
This observation could probably also be added to the “name” section above, but it is an interesting point about the court of public opinion. The public didn’t like the name of Scarlet’s executive search firm as they said it did not automatically scream what the brand does.
It’s an Apprentice reunion!
But if they really took a moment to reflect on some of the biggest brand names around the world, not many do. Nando’s is not automatically synonymous with chicken. Accenture/EY do not clearly represent consultancy by their name alone. Apple for anyone living under a rock for the last 30+ years would not screen technology. Be careful about public opinion, some is really helpful for a focus group and some are just a distraction.
The Apprentice: The Pitch
My first thought… Why would you make someone walk those stairs before a pitch !?
Carina – The Bakery
Although she was nervous, she represented the brand well. It is evident that she understands the business. Of course, scaling is a very different beast but with the right investment and infrastructure I have no doubt she could make it work.
Her marketing team, who were fairly tragic the last time, did a good job at the TV ad. The concept “it’s worth the time” linked to prison time could have been terrible, but it was executed very well!
Well done her for using her surname for the branding of the bakery, a family bakery with a vision for growth sounds like a beautiful legacy to me.
She was more cautious in her projections this time with a plan to expand with two stores a year, which is much more palatable (no pun intended).
Lord Sugar has multiple brands and the infrastructure to make it work, in addition to having invested in bakery brand before. So I have no doubt he will be able to add value to her brand and help to improve its trajectory. I am personally excited to try her bread!
Scarlett – Recruitment/Exec Search
I loved how Scarlett started her pitch by starting with a story, I know as a personal branding expert you might be thinking oh boy she is talking about personal branding again. But lots of entrepreneurs underestimate the value of their story and experience in painting the picture and setting the scene in a pitch.
Scarlett Allen-Horton is competing for a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar.
She defined her personal brand value and assured the investor and audience of her proposition as a force to reckoned with.
Although her TV advert was awful, she was able to provide great clarity about her vision for the business. She knows her stuff! And was able to deliver great stats, facts and information about her niche.
If she doesn’t win, I have no doubt she will have lots of opportunity as a speaker—as well as building her brand, of course!
Pitching is essential in business. Pitching styles vary but the most important thing is for you to understand how to get your points across consistently and with clarity.
As we know Lord Sugar has invested in two recruitment companies already. He knows the money is there but will executive search for women be an investable proposition for him?
The Apprentice Spoiler Alert
I would say stop reading now because I am about to reveal the winner but in truth, I have been watching the show in advance and the winner is a well guarded secret. So you will have to watch the show to find out. Or I might pop back on to tell you … but what I will say is…
1) May the best woman win!
2) Being a finalist is honestly not too bad: have great clarity, focus on what you want to achieve in the long term, don’t get distracted by the glitz and glamour of TV (it can be short lived) instead focus on building a business and a personal brand that has longevity. And you will be fine. More than fine.
Congratulations to your both for getting this far! Either way you are winners.