The Apprentice: What they taught us last night

The miracle was that, with a video called Fat Daddy Fitness Hell and one called Dare to Dine featuring a rubber chicken, that there were any views at all.

Following the Robert debacle, Sugar was taking no chances and appointed the project managers: Business graduate and aspiring video production entrepreneur Ella Jade for Tenacity and, for Summit, technology entrepreneur Solomon. Sugar also moved Jemma to the Summit team.

I think it’s fair to say that, at times, the video-making process was painful. But far be it from me to miss an opportunity to find the positive in the steaming pile of negative. So here’s what we can learn from Tenacity and Summit’s experience…

1. First impressions count
Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. Thanks to her performance in the first task where her strategy was to apply make-up and wear short skirts, she got side-lined and snubbed throughout the task. I can’t say I blame them one bit, but it did prove that first impressions count and, whether Sarah regrets it or not, the rest of the Tenacity team were certainly not forgetting!

2. Have a clear vision
Solomon excelled as a project manager in this task and even when the claws usually come out in the boardroom, his team held fast in the opinion that he was a great leader, citing Solomon’s “clear vision” that “engaged everyone to work” towards a common goal. Ella Jade unfortunately was criticised for just the opposite, along with “no decisiveness” and “no leadership”.

3. Know your target audience
Both teams suffered from making assumptions about audiences that they didn’t seem to understand. Summit was convinced that 18-30 year olds would enjoy some slapstick comedy – pies in the face, falling over, rubber chickens. And Tenacity, under the humourless direction of Ella Jade, even managed to offend pub quiz businessman Daniel (not a man you’d think would be easily offended) with their callous attitude to people of a larger stature.

4. Understand your scope of works
Online marketing is a tricky business if you don’t understand it, and making an assumption that your team knows about it, is a rather big mistake. Ella Jade appeared to make this assumption and this led to the video being submitted to You Tube without a title or description, which will have had an impact on viewing figures. Understanding all of the elements or requirements of a project has got to be a good starting place for successful delivery.

5. Market test your product – with your target market
If either of the teams had grabbed so much as one honest person from their target audiences, Tenacity and Summit would have discovered the error of their ways. The trouble was, both teams just talked to each other. Summit’s Dare to Dine was funny within their group, now semi-bonded during four weeks of semi-Hell, and giggles were aplenty. Sadly when they got to pitch to music and entertainment giant Buzz Feed, they said really the humour was more appropriate for 8-10 year olds.

Tenacity seemed aware that their Fat Daddy project lacked humour with some people expressing it, like Daniel who said there was just “no comedy left here anymore” and assistant brand manager Pamela who, amongst other things, said she was “extremely concerned”. They tried to rectify the issue but it was just too late.

6. Pick your partners carefully
To increase their videos reach, the teams need to partner up with a suitable internet sensation – or at least a popular presence. Solomon followed the figures and the team’s target market, making a quick, undisputed decision, which in the end led to a crucial 200 or so more views for Summit than Tenacity.

7. Prepare for the pitching process
I’m always a bit baffled when a group of budding business people can’t seem to agree some key product messages and jot down a couple of concise bullet points to guide their pitch. The result of not appearing to have any semblance of preparation leaves them floundering in, an often, room of slightly embarrassed people. In this case Steven went on and on, striving to find the point, if only the team had prepared one he might have found it.

8. Know when it’s time to quit
Sometimes you’ve just got to know when something is not going to change and accept it. Like when Lord Sugar decides to fire you, arguing, or even begging, aren’t going to change it.

I’ve already mentioned Lord Sugar was not in the mood for fools and it certainly showed. Summit won the challenge with 3,532 views to Tenacity’s 3,314. Ella Jade chose to bring back Simon and Sarah into the Boardroom to face the music. And the music was loud!

Out went Steven (“a lost cause in this project”), then Sarah (“people don’t have confidence in you”), and finally Ella Jade (“totally unforgivable situation”) – although Ella’s begging didn’t show determination, more desperation. Sugar had made his decision and walking out with dignity would have been a better option.

9. Just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean you should
Ella Jade is apparently an aspiring video production entrepreneur, and perhaps she will become a great success, however, it appeared from viewing her limited directorial skills, that she might want to re-think her future. Sarah apparently aspires to run an online dating agency and has tried out several (in the name of research of course), but whether or not it’s a good idea for her to run one, I’m not so sure. I know that I love cake, I can eat a lot of it, but I know that I could never run a cake shop. Eating cake and making cakes are two different things and sometimes it’s not always what we love that works for our careers or our businesses.

10. Cut the dead wood
There’s no doubt that losing those people that aren’t adding value will be better for any business and I think there is still a lot of dead wood to go on The Apprentice. Although whilst we all might feel like being a bit Lord Sugar with our own business dead wood at times, unfortunately, we’ve got to remember that there are grievance processes, tribunals and UK law to contend with before firing someone. Even Lord Sugar has to abide by this in the real w


About Clare Bampton

Clare Bampton has nearly 20 years' experience in PR and marketing and founded Derbyshire-based Bampton Communications Limited seven years ago following a career including Lloyds TSB, The Boots Company, TNT and British Waterways. Bampton provides practical, value-for-money PR and marketing services to a wide range of SMEs and marketing professionals across the UK.