The Apprentice Week Eleven: The Final Countdown

When the phone call arrived and Nick commented that it may be their last early start, Ricky replied with ‘Maybe for you’.  I rate Ricky as a contender but it’s that side of him that reduces his likeability.

Lord Sugar challenged them with creating affordable luxury products and appointed Adam as project manager for Phoenix, leaving Sterling to choose their own. Is this Lord Sugars way of weighing up Adams strengths and weaknesses as he approaches the final hurdle? Ricky took charge at Sterling and both members of the team (Ricky and Tom) decided that male grooming was the market they would succeed in.

All of Adams team agreed that confectionery was the way to go and instantly began delegating jobs to his team members Jade and Nick. We all thought Adam was struggling with coming up with a brand name until Nick threw his suggestions into the mix… ChoCho Choc. No comment needed. I really liked Adams suggestion of The Chocolate Bar and the concept behind it but it seemed to be brushed under the carpet by Nick. Both of the boys headed to a luxury chocolate shop to research the market but spent most of the time filling their faces.

Ricky managed to finalise his product range and create each of the products before even managing to create a brand name. Tom suggested Modern Gentlemen which Ricky agreed upon but I think it was a case of desperation rather than inspiration as time was moving along swiftly.

I thought the packaging design for Rickys grooming products resembled a cheap knock-off aftershave found in nearly every UK market. There was nothing luxury about it at all but they went ahead anyway, seemingly happy with their decisions.

Karren desperately tried to pin Adam and Nick down on the prices of their products but they seemed confused and said that the product would definitely be £2.99 or £4.99… not quite specific enough boys!

Each shop opened and welcomed a selection of potential customers as well as a few mystery shoppers who were actually industry experts smuggled in by Lord Sugar.

Let me ask you something… Would you allow a nervous apprentice candidate, nearing the end of the competition to get anywhere near your jugular vein with a razor? No neither would I! But low and behold a customer willingly lay on a chair and allowed Ricky to shave him in the shop. That is the definition of brave for me.

Sweet Things, the confectionery shop opened by Adams team was a bustling hive of activity. The shop created the right atmosphere and environment for the brand and looked to be a roaring success!

As the morning of the pitches dawned you could really see the separation that has occurred in the house. Each candidate seems to have distanced themselves from their housemates. Especially Nick as he took his breakfast outside to eat alone.

Watching Ricky and Tom prepare for their pitch was fairly dull but watching Adam was hilarious, even more so when he accidentally revealed the notes written secretively on his hand. It took me back to my GCSE days…

Yet again Ricky was pitch perfect! He is amazing when it comes to presenting and answering questions under pressure. Tom even managed to present himself fairly well too and the only area they fell down on was the branding. The experts agreed with me that there was nothing special about the bottles, packaging or anything else other than the boys enthusiasm and knowledge.

Adam was clearly very nervous and really struggled to present anything at all. It was as he had finally realised just what was at stake and he fell to pieces. The only person really injecting enthusiasm and confidence into their pitch was Jade. The boardroom revealed that Ricky and Tom had won the task and they were sent away leaving the losing team sitting and awaiting Lord Sugars verdict. On their return the following morning I couldn’t help but notice that yet again Adam was very quiet. He seemed to have lost his spark this week and when questioned on his strategy and decision making he seemed a little lost for words. His fight had left him although he did come out with a great line when questioned on his strategy; ‘Everyone mentions the word strategy when things start going wrong.’ This is so true! I mentioned this a few weeks ago and in my opinion, Adam has hit the nail on the head.

Jade and Nick seemed to give their reasons for staying in the process clearly and passionately but in the end I think it was Adams lack of spark rather than his performance this week that made Lord Sugar fire him. I have to say I was shocked and qute sad to see him go. I was really hoping for a Ricky/Adam final but alas it was not to be.

So with the final four being Ricky, Jade, Nick and Tom, who would you put your money on? I have to say at this point it has to be Ricky but it all depends on the outcome of not only the interviews next week but also their business ideas and business plans. Good luck!

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