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Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Apprentice: Lord Sugar makes history.

So after twelve cringe inducing weeks it came down to James and Sarah veying for Lord Sugar's life-changing investment.


The Apprentice finals have an all too familiar rhythm: The two finalists pick from the previous candidates who are keen to help/hinder them. They turn their business plans into reality with hastily put together digital and TV campaigns. Their Apprentice experience ends with a nerve-wracking solo pitch to Sugar's industry experts who are bought in to pick holes in the pitches and ask questions the bemused audience are asking.

James wanted to remarket his IT recruitment business, whereas Sarah wanted to develop the go to sweet brand. The brand as Claude put it needed ‘global appeal’ but her team lacked creativity from Off. James on the other hand, riskily put controlling Elizabeth in charge of his subteam. In my opinion she has proved herself over the series as a meticulous leader, but this was James’ product not hers, and it could have gone good or bad.


The problems with James’ choice of subteam was evident from the start, with Anisa and Elizabeth clashing over whether or not the digital ad should be serious or funny. Honestly though, the funniest thing was that Sarah’s team’s efforts were equally questionable. I think there was definitely some symbolism in seeing Sarah’s product poured over on the floor, because her subteam’s effort did everything but highlight how good her product is.

The name ‘Chic Sweets’ didn’t do the Sarah a favour either, it did anything but illustrate her idea. However, James was happy with his sub team’s effort, even if his chosen brand name 'First Tier Talent’ sounded nothing like an IT company.

The subteam also had to devise a promotional advertisement for the business/product. For James’ ‘First Tier Talent’ Joanna directed a running track themed ad with Anisa and Charles, and I must say it worked. It was probably the best created piece of advertisement in the entire episode. Quick, effective and professional. The same can not be said for the other team, with both Harrison and Michaela becoming very irate at the diva like behaviour of Siobhan, who found it funny to act the complete goat throughout the filming of their advertisement. Michaela may be aggressive to her teammates but her response to Siobhan’s very questionable behaviour was justified.

The created video from the ‘First Tier Talent’ sub-team, was far from perfect in the editing process. Joanna’s silly mistake of leaving the storyboard at the track meant that they had to improvise James’ written voice over, which Joanna said she could remember. The only problem was, that she couldn’t and there was no time to change the mistake she had made. Though I liked the video, I must say that those candidates who were chosen to be in the subteams far from impressed me. It is evident that the reason they are not in the final, is because they are far from the perfect candidate and this task proved it.


In an Apprentice first, James and Sarah met past winners who were experts in their chosen area of business. It was made clear that both of the candidates wanted to win this battle, for Sarah it was an emotional rollercoaster, but for James’ it was a constructive experience. I felt that I would be happy if either of the candidates won. In the final stretch both prepared their pitches. The nerves were present, but to market their business to 20 industry experts was a big ask. Assessing the feedback from the sub-team, Harrison reported in a rather romanticized fashion, failing to give honest feedback on Sarah’s rebranded ‘Sweeteze’. A move that at this stage in the competition could have destroyed Sarah’s hopes of success. Thankfully for James however, Elizabeth was as ever, honest and addressing the negatives outright, a decision that I hoped would benefit James in the pitch.

Sarah’s pitch was delivered with ease and professionalism, there was a retained continuity throughout and it was clear she had a drive and motive with her product. Moreover, her response to criticism was perfect, the elaboration of how her product addressed a niche in the market was well delivered, but still there were some who doubted her proposition.

James’ approach was with more confidence and drive. He took on board the criticism from his team and like Sarah responded to the feedback well, if ever it was time to brag in the competition it was now, and the one thing that James did well was sell himself.

In the final boardroom of the series, Lord Sugar addressed Sarah’s product. Her rebrand of ‘Sweeteze’ was praised, for her judgement of a bad decision turned good. On the contrary, Lord Sugar criticised James’ product name, but also admitted that he ‘got’ his advert more than Sarah’s. In the words of Lord Sugar both James and Sarah were ‘credible candidates’ and so he got deep. Both were probed as to why they wanted to be his apprentice, but the businesses of both candidates were a risk, and this was Lord Sugar’s investment.


Lord Sugar’s dilemma was resolved by shockingly choosing both candidates, and they definitely deserved it. James is a risk taker, and Sarah is an innovator. Though a little anti climatic in my opinion, both candidates proved themselves worthy.

Contributed by Callum Bancroft

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