Posted: Fri 4th Oct 2019
The 15th series of The Apprentice landed on BBC1 on Wednesday night and saw 16 new fresh-faced candidates ready to battle it out for a life-changing opportunity and the chance to be Lord Sugar's new business partner.
In what the show describes as "the toughest interview of their lives", each newbie is competing for a £250,000 investment and a 50:50 share of their business with the lord of entrepreneurship.
The ﬁrst task of the series had candidates jet oﬀ to sunny South Africa, but this was not a simple 'jolly'. Their challenge pitted the girls against the boys, and was to set up and run a bespoke tour around the Cape Town countryside, giving clients the tourism experience of a lifetime. As usual, the team that made the most proﬁt would win and one member of the losing team would be ﬁred.
Drawing on individual team members experience, team and sub-team managers were chosen and the battle commenced.
The girls chose to do a wine tour, the boys, a Safari excursion. Whilst proﬁt would be tallied, the clients, if unhappy, could also get their money back.
The ﬁrst challenge was to set the price that the client might want to pay for the experience. The teams set out to meet with the experience providers and attempted to negotiate a price for client entry.
Both teams suggested reducing their cost price if they brought in a full house of sixteen clients. Both providers agreed to these terms. But neither of the teams fulﬁlled the 16 client number requirement. They both also faced the risk that Lord Sugar's trusty eagle eyes, Claude and Karen, pointed out:
1: Don't over promise
If you over-promise, there is the risk that you might under-deliver and this can lose you money through unhappy clients.
Don't set expectations too high. Don't make promises to customers that you can't fulﬁl.
With wine this might have been the taste and quality of the wine. With a safari, the promise of seeing all ﬁve big name animals might be short-changed due to the unpredictable nature of animals.
Whilst losing up front might eat into proﬁts, the teams also had another lifeline in terms of sales and this was the end of experience gift store visit. Of course, an unhappy client is less likely to want to part with more cash by the end of an experience that didn't live up to their expectations.
Both teams seemed to come a cropper when it came to communication..
2: Listen to your team
...and don't interrupt
Fault was found with one team member speaking over another during a key negotiation in the boys team.
One member of the girls team seemed to refuse to listen to the tour specialists and their knowledge and continuously interrupted with their own wine knowledge.
When sub-teams let each other down, the boys were better able to pull together and get on with the teamwork and task at hand.
3: Be adaptable
Not being adaptable can lose you customers.
The girls team allowed some customers to pay more than others, for the same experience, as pressure to sell increased as the day wore on. This, of course, can lead to disgruntled customers if they ﬁnd out that their rates are diﬀerent.
4: Be realistic about your pricing
...and know where you ﬁt on the scale
As tour guides, within the winery and on the African plains, both teams had members become unstuck when asked basic questions.
Stumbling, getting lost, fudging answers, does nothing when dealing with a paying customer who you may one day want as a repeat customer.
5: Research and know your product
...before engaging with your customer
6: Easier to keep customers than acquire new ones
So make sure you treat current customers correctly.
Back in the boardroom, Lord Sugar gave his take on events and his business advice matched his trusty colleagues Claude and Karen.
7: Price your product equally to all customers
8: If the buying price is low enough, your proﬁt margin with be higher
The boys ended up in the losing team by just around £44 short of proﬁt. After much consideration, Lord Sugar decided to ﬁre a member of the sales sub-team, who didn't make any sales and had also interrupted team members during a negotiation that, according to Karen who was observing, had otherwise been going well and was at a potential turning point.
9: Don't interfere and override good negotiations
Finally as the boardroom became heated Lord Sugar reminded the ﬁrst boys team manager one of the most important business leadership skills of them all..
10: Outbursts don't work in professional setting
Keep your cool no matter how upset you are.