Posted: Sat 26th Oct 2019
It's week four and the 13 remaining apprentices were tasked with designing an electric bike, hosting a launch event, pitching and selling to bike retailers. The team making the most sales wins. Additionally, the teams had to choose an accessory to sell alongside the bikes.
Viewers all take a breath, ready for the posturing which happens as the teams settle down to chose their 'task leaders' or 'project managers'. It was no surprise that know-it-all Lottie put herself up for team leader as 'all her family have electric bikes and so does she' and she now 'knows Lord Sugar better than any others because of her time spent returning to the boardroom' (of course).
No one else wanted Lottie though and Thomas got the gig. The man with the gift of the gab, the aura of the lively market trader. Surely this pefect for this geezer.
In the other team, Iasha volunteered herself forward because she had a company sold electrical products. No one objected.
Thomas dictated the creation of a bike that was elegant and classic for the 40-year-old man keen on fitness and the outdoors. What he got was a bright orange and red bike complete with rocket logo. He was not best pleased and laid into all around him.
Iasha's team decided on a bike for the avatar 'Sophisticated Sarah' who had money to spend and shopped at Harrods - however I didn't get it. If I was 'sophisticated Sarah' you'd have more chance of meeting God than having me buy a dark blue masculine coloured bike for the commuter. My Jimmy Choos would never work on those.
It is amazing how all contestants seem to be in agreement with each other at the beginning of the task and then the moment things seem to be going wrong the blame game begins. So few of them admit wrongdoing and then change course. The ego is king.
Prices seemed fairly randomly settled on with Thomas's team going for a price range of £1,200 down to £800 per bike and Iasha's team on £1,700 down to £1,200. Discounting began almost immediately and know-it-all Lottie didn't seem to know it all and turned down a bid for more units bringing in more revenue.
Amazingly the total sales for Iasha's team was £1.2m - which was amazing, even they didn't know they'd done so well. Thomas's losing team did make more than £400,000 of sales until you realised how far behind they were.
In the caff and then the boardroom the predictable back stabbing began. Thomas immediately put the blame elsewhere with Marianne coming back at him for being a dictator. Marianne was there for not following orders and Lubna because she did nothing. It was that 'nothing' which got her fired.
Thomas scraped through however one more week on the losing team and I'll predict he'll be back to selling those pillows.
What business lessons can be learned from this week's episode?
Listen to those with knowledge: When you decide who your ideal customer is, listen to those in your team who work with that type of buyer and design accordingly.
Listen to customer feedback: When you test a product with members of the public, look for the common themes, that's when your audience is telling you what will and won't work. Then flex your plan accordingly.
Keep disagreements private: Don't disagree in front of potential customers, it looks unprofessional and erodes confidence.
Pricing: Be clear on pricing. Set out why something has a certain price tag, and be very clear about when discounting can happen, and when it cannot.
Follow the money: Anyone who has watched The Apprentice will know this is Lord Sugar's mantra. Focus on the product with the highest price tag and most margin and sell that first and last.