If ever there were a group of people more guaranteed to dig the dirt, reveal the truth and find any hidden skeletons, than Lord Sugars interviewers, then they are well hidden. The final four candidates must face some of the hardest questions ever put to them, and with the pre-interview research ensuring no stone has been left unturned, there is very little that they can hide.
As each candidate sat before an interviewer, you could feel the tension, see the sweaty palm syndrome kick in and almost hear their heartbeats go up a notch but rather than go into detail about each interview I’m just going to gloss over.
Jade’s business plan was picked apart by, the Simon Cowell of business reality, Claude Littner, unsurprisingly considering that it lacked any real forecasts, contained no costings and demonstrated that any investment would be gone by month six.
Nick’s idea was considered by nearly all interviewers to be pointless. He has a proven track record when it comes to technology companies but their rate at which he moves on to new ones showed a lack of commitment and focus.
Ricky was pulled up on his personal statement rather than his business plan or idea. The Ricky that we saw in the interviews is a mere shadow of his cocky former self but that statement, written before the gruelling twelve week process came back to haunt him, with Apprentice favourite Margaret Mountford raising a more than quizzical eyebrow with the statement referring to Lord Sugar as an old dog who could be taught some new tricks.
Tom was the big surprise when it came to the interviews. He quickly admitted that he had never been through an interview process before and yet he seemed to do a better job than anyone else. He was honest, answered each question rather than dodging anything and his business plan was praised as the best they’d ever seen! His business proposition however, was deemed risky by Mike Soutar, the CEO of Shortlist Media.
On their return to the board room, Lord Sugar briefly discussed each business proposal then said goodbye to first Jade and then Nick before being genuinely torn between both Rick and Tom’s ideas. He could see potential in both but in the end it was the safe option that won and Ricky was crowned winner of the apprentice 2012 taking away a £250k investment and a new business partner in Lord Sugar.
Did he make the right decision? Only time will tell.
I think he was right to immediately dismiss Jade and Nick but Richard Alvin, Managing Director of Capital Business Media, owners of Business Matters, disagrees with me saying ‘I think Lord Sugar was wrong as I’d have invested in Nick’s recipe fulfilment website, if he took on board my idea to tweak it slightly’ Whilst I agree that the idea is innovative I don’t see it being used widely and struggle to understand how money would be made other than via advertising revenues and possible commissions.
I found Ricky’s idea to be fairly boring in comparison to Tom’s and at this point we really should weigh up the historical facts. yes, Ricky is passionate and looks like he could sell ice to Eskimos, I have no doubt that he will be successful at some point but Tom already has a proven track record within the industry his business plan is based on.
The company he currently owns turned over in excess of £1 million after it’s first year which is seriously impressive.
If I had been in Lord Sugar’s position, I too probably would have taken the safer option in Ricky and as the great man edges ever closer to retirement I can understand his decision.
I suppose the only real question that remains is whether Ricky’s business will go ahead as he planned it or will Lord Sugar change it entirely like he did with Tom Pellereau. His original idea was a chair to help with back pain but since the partnership it’s been all about nail files.
Lord Sugar’s success has been founded on taking big risks and ensuring they came off so given his decision making over the last two years I’m left wondering if he’s lost some of his risky edge.
Is Lord Sugar now only taking the safe options that he’s presented with or will next year see a break in what is fast becoming tradition?