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Focus on profits or form good relationships with your clients? You need to do both in business

Written by Alana Spencer on Friday, 29 November 2019. Posted in Reviews

Lord Sugar’s business partner and winner of 2016’s The Apprentice, Alana Spencer, discusses why it is important to have a good balance between building relations with your business partners and getting the job done the right way

Focus on profits or form good relationships with your clients? You need to do both in business

Lord Sugar’s business partner and winner of 2016’s The Apprentice, Alana Spencer, discusses why it is important to have a good balance between building relations with your business partners and getting the job done the right way

I’m feeling quite sad. I feel like two of my favourite candidates went tonight and actually, it’s really conflicting because I feel like Thomas did lose that task for them. What a great guy.

This week was a music management task which was quite unusual, I’ve never seen anything like that done before in The Apprentice. A change always quite nice because a lot of the time The Apprentice follows a bit of a structure. Every year, there’s a negotiation task and every year there’s a marketing branding task and so it’s quite nice for them to do something that’s never been done before. Although a lot of the elements in the task were to do with negotiating and relationship forming, it was definitely something very different that we haven’t seen before.

It was a great task and quite good in showing people that business doesn’t have to be as sort of obvious as you’d think. As a musician, there are elements of running a business and being self-employed the sort of work that they do.

The two project managers were Lewis and Dean. And can I say, who put some batteries in Dean? It’s like he’s been asleep for this entire season and he’s just suddenly woken up. He was really quite impressive this week. I like that he didn’t take stick from Lottie and he sort of pushed back against her trying to undermine him.

There was a bit of a battle for project manager between Lottie and Dean. It did sort of look like Lottie was overlooked a little bit by her teammates. She was project manager last week and I think that did sort of play on the contestants. When it comes to that part of the show, you weirdly start to naturally portion people out once everyone’s had a go. That could have slightly come into play. It was almost like this task was designed for Dean, so it was right that he took it on as the project manager. But having Lottie in the team with her knowledge of music was very helpful as well.

There were two very different negotiating styles when it came to meeting the music acts. One was focusing on the margins and the other was focusing on forming the relationship with the clients. However, you really you do have to have a balance of the two because in business you can’t really choose one, you have to do both. Dean and Lottie did both but they perhaps they didn’t negotiate as hard as they could have done. Whereas the other team, I hate to say anything bad about Thomas because he seems like such a nice guy. But Thomas’ negotiation tactic was just so wrong. If he’s ever seen The Apprentice before, he should know that often people fall down because they fail to build relationships with their clients. So, that was quite a shame to see really, and yet again we saw Marianne struggling to work with Thomas. I think those two just really clash. I think they probably get on it doesn’t seem like there’s any hatred there, but they’re really big characters so they clash a little bit.

When it came to meeting the corporate clients, if that was me, I would have been asking as many questions as I possibly could about the advert they wanted. Because not only do you want to make sure you get the right song, but when you meet the musicians you, can relay the brief given and work out a way to feed those bits into what you have created for them.

So essentially, it’s like when you see a job description and then an application form and you go through the description and try and hit all the key points. It didn’t seem like anyone was particularly paying attention to the brief other than one team who said they shouldn’t have a love song in one of the adverts.

I think when it came to going back to the corporate clients with the songs, it was obvious which team had triumphed. Dean and Lottie’s team were able to get £17,000 versus Lewis’ team who weren’t able to get anything. It was obvious from that point that they had won - or the other team would have to go a hell of a long way to be able to compete with their profits.

It was quite cringey watching Lewis’ pitch for the love song. I think he was doing the right thing and wanted to sell the song and tell the “why” behind it, but I think he should have definitely waited until the song was finished to do that.

When it came to pitching to potential customers, there were some real stand out moment from Scarlett this week. It looked like she closed quite a lot of deals, and high-priced deals. There was a real difference in the room. Some people were closing deals from £300-£400 while some were closing deals for £1500 even up to £10,000. And Scarlett was one of the ones who closed higher priced deals, so I was quite impressed with her this week.

And I think overall, Dean’s team took £50,000 including the £17,000 from the big order, so they did really well as a team in the pitching process.

I was really disappointed with who got fired. I feel like Thomas made such a fundamental mistake that potentially, it was his time to go. And I loved what Lord Sugar said about him. He got the right send-off; he got the send-off he deserves. He can now go on and pursue his pillow business and he’ll be known by the nation as someone who was a really good guy. That will make business a whole lot easier for him. I’m sure he’ll have people falling over themselves to try and work for him now. This process, although he didn’t win, will only have done him good.

Marianne has had a few shaky weeks unfortunately. I really liked her because I thought she was so good at fighting her corner in the boardroom. I guess in a way she shouldn’t be needing to fight her way in the boardroom, she should be avoiding it.  But she did have a way about her. I think she’s very classy. It sounds like she’s already successful but I think she will go on and be even more successful. Even though I’m sad, I think they’ll both go on to do good things and it was maybe the right time for them both.

I’m looking forward to next week. Double-firing is always quite exciting. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Pamela does because we haven’t seen much of her at all. At the beginning she seemed to be sort of stronger than she is now. The process is tiring, I don’t know if she’s just getting tired at this point? I'm looking forward to seeing her as the new project manager and seeing who goes home next week.

About the Author

Alana Spencer

Alana Spencer

Since securing a business partnership with Alan Sugar in The Apprentice 2016, Alana Spencer's cake company Ridiculously Rich has been doing ridiculously well. As a winner of the series, she's writing a weekly round-up detailing the performance of The Apprentice 2019 candidates exclusively for Elite Business.

Follow Alana Spencer on Twitter @alana_spencer_, Instagram @ridicrichbyalana and her Facebook page Ridiculously Rich by Alana.

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