The Apprentice 2019: If you don’t put your foot down, you will go home

Alana Spencer, Lord Sugar’s business partner and winner of The Apprentice 2016, speaks about the fine line between being overbearing and fighting your corner when needed

The Apprentice 2019: If you don’t put your foot down

They made a lot of money in last night’s episode. I think that has got to be the most money ever made on an Apprentice task. There was one occasion where contestants sold houses on the show – but the money gained here was even more than that. To make over a million on an Apprentice task is practically unheard of. And even the other team which made around £400,000, that was pretty impressive by Apprentice standards. Bravo to everyone this week. I literally set back in my seat when they said made a million. Incredible.

In this week’s tasks, the teams had to create a bike and then market it to a panel of industry experts, retailers and see which team could make the most money. There was quite a lot involved in this in terms of the different skills. You’ve got branding, design, marketing, pitching and sales on the day. It was an opportunity for the candidates to show a varied skillset. Whether you were great at sales, or whether you were great at marketing. There was something or everyone in there.

There were two teams, one lead by Iasha and one lead by Thomas. They are probably the two most polar opposite characters we’ve ever seen go up against each other on the Apprentice. They have the most different management styles, incredibly different personalities. It was quite an interesting one to watch. I feel like Iasha’s team really got behind her even though she wasn’t the loudest or dominant character. I think she’s probably got quite a lot of respect in there especially after last week. She sort of saved the day for the team with last week’s task. Though I think often times the team was getting frustrated with how much she was building a picture up. However, I think she did very well. She’s a bit of a silent assassin.

One the other hand, we’ve got Thomas. I really liked him from the beginning. He had a quite aggressive negotiating tactic, and we’re seeing that quite a lot from him. He’s not filtering himself is what I’m gathering. He’s being 100% organically Tommy. He’s a bolshie guy and I think you either love him or hate him. It seems like he gets on quite well with his team although there was a little bit of friction this week.

In terms of the products themselves, Thomas’ team created a bright red and burnt orange bike with a rocket logo – and changed the name of the product at the last minute. That was a really bold move from Thomas, though actually I’m surprised it didn’t go down worse. However, I think it was a really big and risky move from Thomas. It did actually in a way pay off because they went with a better name. However, if their market was based around the E-fit bike, and kept with the original logo and wording, it could have spelt trouble for them. They could have been a real disconnect in the pitching process. It was a bold move but it did pay off. Though I’m not sure I would have made the decision to change the name so last minute, knowing there was a chance to create a disconnect between marketing and the product itself. The bike itself was bright and eye catching. I wouldn’t want to use it personally; it was just too bright. It was the red on red, which I believe was Lottie’s idea as she didn’t want the bike to get dirty. Which seems crazy because I think a bike is going to get dirty no matter what colour it is. And as Lord Sugar said, it’s about being able to sell it and that bike sat in a shop window, and it’s is only going to appeal to a small amount of people.

The other team created a bike which was more of a commuting bike, which I get. I got that vibe as well. I think they created a much safer bike as didn’t do anything too outlandish. And the bike they created was quite nice actually, it didn’t offend me in any way. It was quite a simple bike, there was nothing outstanding about it. But what they did do was created a good all-rounder bike which is what majority of people are probably looking for and I think that was a big reason why they did so well because I think they created something that was a crowd pleaser. I think Iasha’s vision really paid off with the product itself.

So we also saw quite a bit of conflict this week on both teams. We saw Iasha and Carina butt heads a little bit. Carina discounted the price of the bike to £1300 when she was meant to stay at £1700. Personally, it did appear like she was quite blasé about it but I get the impression that actually she did quite a good job of that negotiation. I think she sold quite a large number of units. And the idea of a discount usually is that the more a retailer buys, the better deal they get and therefore the better margin they make. It’s not really an environment where you discount at the last minute, it’s more that you discount for bulk. So, I think she did a really good job. As much as I like Iasha, I don’t think she should have had a go at her for that because I think she secured her a really large sale. A sale that went quite a long way towards filling their £1.2 million pot.

The other conflict we saw was between Tommy and Marianne. It happened twice – when they disagreed on the orange colour of the bike and the second time when he brought her back into the board room. I love Marianne from watching her in the board room there. There was a moment when I was on The Apprentice I was in the board room when I completely lost my words and couldn’t say anything. And if I had the ability to fight my corner like Marianne did. That’s a skill, a skill that everyone wants. She was so eloquent in the way she took Tommy down. She was very “matter of fact” and straight forward, but also has the ability to do it in a way that commands respect. I think she’s great. I understand why she was in the boardroom as she was leading that sub team. She was also the one who allowed the bike to be a really garish colour. And I think she was probably right to brought back in. But she definitely shouldn’t have been chosen to go home, so I’m glad she didn’t.

Lubna was the one who went home. By week four, you’ve had enough time in there to adjust to the crazy surroundings that is being in the Apprentice. And if you’re not stepping up and participating in tasks in some way, you are going to get noticed. You are not just being watched by Karren Brady and Claude Littner (Lord Sugar’s advisors), you have the whole production around you keeping an eye on you. And if you’re not doing anything, that is going to get back to Lord Sugar. I think Lubna seems absolutely lovely and a very nice person, and I’m sure she will be very successful. But I think for this process she wasn’t shining; she wasn’t speaking up for herself. And even in the board room she was very apologetic. It was a given that she was going home when he said he was bringing her back. If you can’t sell something that heavily relies on sales then you need to be worried and unfortunately, she didn’t sell anything. And unfortunately, she didn’t fight her corner enough in the boardroom, and she should have gone home in my opinion.

There were quite some funny moments. I did enjoy the unusual bike lights that resembled male genitalia.  I was quite disappointed that no one decided to take those and sell them to retailers, because I think that would have been quite entertaining. And the Lycra costumes were equally as out there. It was quite a weird twist when Lord Sugar turned up at the Apprentice house. don’t know why that happened. Usually briefings are done in the morning, but maybe he was occupied during filming the day and had to do it the night before. But it was quite nice to see them off guard when they thought it was all over. I think the contestants were quite surprised.

There are three contestants I’m keeping my hopes on. One of them is Pamela. Although she’s not featuring that much, I think she’s coming across as really solid and someone who knows what they’re doing in business. I’m really hopeful we get to see more of her. She seems great. And Scarlett is very similar to her actually. She seems very level headed, straight talking and seems to get on with everyone. Marianne is another strong contender. I’m looking forward to watching those three of them throughout their journey, and they’re all females.

Alana Spencer
Alana Spencer

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