The Apprentice 2019: Alana Spencer explains how Lord Sugar notices when people are blowing their own trumpet – and likes to see if they can live up to it

Lord Sugar’s business partner, Alana Spencer, reveals why overselling yourself or appearing arrogant can ruin your chances on The Apprentice

The Apprentice 2019: Alana Spencer explains how Lord Sugar notices when people are blowing their own trumpet – and likes to see if they can live up to it

Sugar’s business partner, Alana Spencer, reveals why overselling yourself or
appearing arrogant can ruin your chances on The Apprentice

It’s the first episode of 2019’s The Apprentice. This is the time we first get introduced to all 16 hopefuls who are battling it out to win an investment from Lord Sugar. The show usually begins with contestants giving it the big “I am”. When you’re a contestant, you think you’re saying the right thing at the time and giving yourself leverage against the other candidates. Some show off more than others, but I think the ones who are more down-to-earth are likely to do well further on in the competition. Contestants who appear arrogant usually slip up at some point. It’s the louder characters you notice at the beginning, but keep an eye on the ones that are a little quieter. The few people who stood out to me in particular are Pamela who she came across as quite professional. Souleyman was also another strong contestant. At 20-years-old and a para athlete who struggles with Retina Pigmentosa (tunnel vision), he’s definitely someone who comes across as very inspirational so I hope he does really well. He shows you can really do anything if you put your mind to it. Some people who stood out for the wrong reasons include Ryan-Mark, a luxury women’s wear consultant I mean if he gets the investment, I’ll eat my hat. Although he did come across as a real character at the beginning. As the episode goes on, you can see he has some skills and wasn’t just put on the show for entertainment value, there is something about him though he had me in stitches at the beginning. And maybe not for the right reasons.

I love the fact that Lord Sugar flew them straight over to South Africa. That is such a good twist for the viewer. Emotions are all over the place for contestants when you’re first start on the show, and then suddenly you’ve jetted off to another country to complete your very first task and it is just another level of stress. I did feel for them. They started off with typical “boys versus girls” teams in the first task. As a viewer you’re just starting to get to know these people, so it’s hard to really make too much comment on them in the first few episodes. But it was very interesting to see the girls doing the usual thing of not wanting to put themselves forward as project manager. In the first week, you don’t want to put yourself forward too much because if that back fires, all eyes are on you. I know from my experience.

If I was in there, and knew I had to make money on souvenirs at the end I would 100% have gone for the wine tour. When you go to a wine tasting evening, there’s a very high chance you will take home a bottle or two of the wines you like. If you go on a safari, it’s much less likely that you would will want to take home a souvenir. However, I would have gone for the safari if it was just based on giving the best overall customer experience, it would have been quite appealing to do so. But the girls definitely did the right thing choosing the wine.

I think the boys were really clever in their negotiating strategy. They made a deal where if they sold all their tickets, they would get a cheaper rate and I think that was smart. The girls nearly did that, but they just didn’t negotiate the initial price down. I was quite impressed that both teams put forward the proposal for a further discount on the basis of selling all tickets.

The girls ran a bit of a risk when they dropped ticket prices. If people on the tour talk, you run the risk of unhappy customers that paid more. Both teams proposed a deal that if they sold all the tickets it would become cheaper, so doing the maths, it made more sense to lower the price of the tickets so they could get more profit. And the boys should have done the same, it would have made them much more per ticket. It was a bit of a risky strategy for the girls, but it paid off.

I think it was a blessing that the girls had Lottie, she is standing out a a contestant – but she is really going to wind someone up as some point. Based on what I’ve seen, she would probably wind me up as well. Bu, without her they wouldn’t have been able to offer the service that they did. Sometimes when you’re in that situation, you need to find someone in the team who is perfect for the task and just let them lead rather than worrying about who’s taking credit. Ultimately, she was the one who was going to do the best in that situation, like she said, she’s worked in one of the top wine companies in London. It was obvious they had failed to learn where they were going and what they were saying during the tour. I think they put a lot of emphasis on the wine tasting portion rather than the tour itself. That is key in these tasks is to revise, even if you’re up all night. Just so you are prepared and know what you’re doing. The girls had also brought in food for customers after one them promised lunch. I thought that was great and I was really impressed with that, because they knew they could have fallen flat by not doing so.

The boys’ tour lasted four hours, and I think they didn’t seem to revise either. One of them didn’t know what the difference was between a rhino and an elephant. One thing for sure is that they did a very good job of keeping spirits high. I think they very professionally blagged their way through it. But what they did make a mistake of was promising customers would see the “big five” but thankfully they managed to turn that around and didn’t need to give back refunds. If you’re going to overpromise, you have to make sure you deliver.

The fault did lie in the sales team in terms of negotiating the ticket sales and store merchandise. Thomas’ negotiating style was quite forceful and not how I would do negotiations at all. Shahin definitely did lose them a few percentages there when he intervened to me, and that is inexcusable. It was a very small percentage but it is about mentality, and to undercut and meet in the middle it goes to show that he is not the sort of person to hold out for the big money.  I think it just showed a little bit of character and someone who may not be the best going forward in business with Lord Sugar. He failed to sell any tickets. If he had sold just four more tickets, they would have won the task. That’s down to all of them however. But in the first task, who want to show basic skills of negotiating and selling, and he didn’t do either of those. That’s where the fault lied.

In the board room, the project manager quite often goes in the first task. Although I don’t think he particularly did anything fundamentally wrong, they just didn’t sell enough tickets. However, Dean especially was giving it the big “I am” saying he could have sold all tickets by lunch time and that would not have gone unnoticed. I think Lord Sugar notices when people are very much blowing their own trumpet and quite likes to see if they can live up to that, or whether it will come crashing down around them. It was quite an interesting board room meeting, it got quite a bit heated and Lewis got a bit of a telling off. But actually, I kind of felt for him. He was trying to talk and the others would not let him talk and that can be a really frustrating thing. I think anyone would have lost their cool in that situation.

With Scarlett I thought she came across really well as project manager. The girls were working quite well as a team so I think that is down to the leader to align that from the beginning. She seemed very level-headed and calm but she wasn’t taking over completely. She did come across well from what we saw, so potentially one to keep an eye on going forward.

Jemelin who was sub-team leader should have seen that she had Lottie as a good asset and really should have just let her lead the whole thing. There is no point speaking for the sake of speaking. If you got a wine expert, let her lead. It’s the sensible thing to do. I think she was potentially trying to get herself noticed and seen. There’s plenty of time for that. The main thing was to win the task because if you win as a team, no one goes home.

The right person went. I think it could have been either of the two in the sales team but Lord Sugar wouldn’t do a double firing in the first round. It’s a shame to be the first one out, I do feel for him. I’m really looking forward to watching Lubna more throughout the competition, she the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to just watch her facial expressions! Carina is a baker, so I have to support the baker doing it for all of us bakers out here.

Alana Spencer
Alana Spencer

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