Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Apprentice Final Four (or The One With The Fop, The Eyelashes, The Wrestler And The Bumfluff)

Plan. Four of 'em.
So, 16 become one as tonight we learn who is to be crowned Apprentice winner 2012.  Nick Holzherr, Tom Gearing, Jade Nash and Ricky Martin are the four finalists, having beaten the other 12 hopefuls to the last show.  We're playing Apprentice bingo this episode, so we'll be looking for this phrase:

  • the process
And...we're off!

Four remain to fight for the chance to become Lord Sugar's business partner...

The call comes mid-celebratory champagne.  And it's Lord Sugar, asking them to spend two days getting to know their business plans.  Surely they already know them?  Aren't they meant to have written them?

Nick Holzherr

Nick thinks his business plan is a very good idea.

Tom Gearing

Tom's got a beardier face today.  And a quiff.  I forget whether he said anything about his business plan.

Jade Nash

The last woman in the contest, but she feels this is irrelevant.  She knows her business plan will make money.  Which is sort of the point.

Ricky Martin

He's at the top of his game and guarantees Lord Sugar a return in his investment.  And possibly a friendly wrestle.

Ohhhhh, the business plan scrutiny begins!

At the Institute Of Directors (I had lunch there once, v nice, involving champagne).

Nick's business idea

Ingredients for recipes to purchase at a single click.

Tom's business idea

Collective investment for wine, using it as a hedge fund asset.  Wine and hedges - one step away from tramps on park benches with tins of Special Brew?

Jade's business idea

Largest telemarketers call centre to do something dull.

Ricky's business idea

Ethical, niche recruitment agency.  Consumer products and sustainability, usage of environment is reduced (WTF?).

My immediate thoughts

What?  I wouldn't invest in any of them.  But, fortunately for the viewing public, it's not up to me.

The Interviews

Tom's never had a job interview before.  Ooh.  Is that because he's just worked for Daddy?

Margaret questions Nick about his intelligence.  Matthew Riley says Ricky's business plan "contains many things that make him want to be sick" which is always what you hope for when you write something like that.  Bank managers love puking as they read business plans.  Remember that.

Jade's call centre is called a "grubby little business", "a bit unsavoury".  She's proposing leads for mobile phones, solar panels, debt cold calling.  Unfortunately, she hasn't included a balance sheet or a cashflow forecast in her business plan.  And she's blown the £250,000 investment in six months, according to her figures.  Jade's business plan lists four different web addresses that she's purchased.  Except she hasn't purchased one of them, her ball-busting interviewer has.  Whoops.  She doesn't have much longevity in any of her previous jobs.  But she does say "the process" *bingo*

Ricky Martin wants to be called "Thor" because he's a god (I think he's mistaken people saying "Oh, GOD" when they see him coming, don't you?).  Margaret is wide-eyed and somewhat horrified at this.  Ricky Martin is asked why he's called himself "Ricky", perhaps wondering why he hasn't been calling himself something more apt - maybe "Dick".  Do people take you less seriously in business because they can't help imagining you in Lycra pants?  OH, GOD, it's Azhar and the Tight Red Shorts all over again... *passes brain bleach*  He talks about being the sledgehammer that can get through the brick wall to the money.  Whatever the fuck that means.  Ricky's personal statement is probably the most crass, obnoxious, infantile thing that Claude's ever had the displeasure of reading.

Ricky's called himself the "best business partner on the planet".  Hmm.  Better than Lord Sugar?  He's going to teach "an old dog new tricks" - but Ricky agrees with Claude Littner that he shouldn't have done it.  However, he does think Ricky's business plan is good, except for the outlandish personal statement.

Nick's business plan is "an academic exercise" for an MBA, not a business.  His business offers a recipe website that allows people to click to buy all the ingredients for recipes from various supermarkets.  "Are you smoking something?" asks one interviewer, when he is asked why he is setting up another business when the business he's currently running has the potential to make two, three, four million pounds.  Also queried is the idea that busy families meal plan.  Of COURSE they do!  This is a red herring introduced by somebody who doesn't worry about where his next meal is coming from.  His current business partner says Nick "lacks focus".  Year five, he says Lord Sugar will make £145 million.  Is that realistic?  Nick has tested the model and wants to scale it.

Tom's business plan offers a glowing endorsement from...his father.  Did his dad write the business plan?  Tom says not...  He was known as a "BNOC - a Big Name On Campus" at university.  Margaret asks if he's sure the "N" stood for "Name"...  What on earth could she mean?  Is Tom "well-rounded" at the tender age of 23?  The money can't be raised for his business idea...can it?  He has no experience in hedge funds and is a gambler.  The risk profile on this business is huge. But with Lord Sugar backing him, that'll impress people.  He's never let anyone down in his life and he's not about to start.  When he comes out of the interview room, he says he felt "quite emotional about it", putting everything out there.  Was he wearing Lycra too?  Bleurgh.

Boardroom time

Lord Sugar says he's a pensioner now and doesn't want to be in the trenches.  He wants them to be doing the work and basically to just sit back, steeple his entrepreneurial fingers and watch the £££ accumulating in his bank.


Margaret says Jade's offering qualified leads from cold calls.  But do people want to be disturbed at home by cold calling?  One of the web addresses was still available to purchase, so Mike Soutar did buy it, to which Lord Sugar clearly thinks, "In your face".  Nick Hewer says she relies on her ability to be persuasive face-to-face.


His "old dog, new tricks" statement is rather rude.  And as for Thor...  "Is it necessary to come out with a load of bullshit now?".  No.  But his business plan is the most simple and straightforward of the lot.  Claude says he had a sleepless night before the interview with Ricky, expecting to tear him apart, but finds himself "mesmerised" by Ricky.  Karren says he's changed the most through "the process" *bingo*  And will he say something silly in business and blow it?


Obsessed by the idea that he's had an unconventional background, with no TV.  He was brought up in Switzerland, in a cuckoo clock.  His business plan looks like an MBA project.  He's aiming it at people who use online recipe sites.  But the £145 million is "a bit optimistic".  He has, however, excelled at businesses centred around internet sites, says Karren.


Does he like being a bit of a gambler?  He's lived a charmed existence (but criticised for being a West Ham supporter by famous Spurs fan, Shuggs).  Karren Brady was running a football club at the age of 23, so don't write him off just for being young.  The business plan is one of the best Mike Soutar's ever read.  Claude says it has the potential to be a big business, but Tom needs to tone down his ambition.

Over to Shuggs...

Jade is instantly shouty about her idea.  It isn't glamorous, but it will make lots of money.  Lord Sugar doesn't want to be involved with a business that cold calls.  But Jade says people have to tick a box to accept third party calls, so it's fine to then spew any amount of shit into their lives at all times of the day.

Tom is proposing to use Lord Sugar's name to persuade investors to invest up to £25 million in fine wine.  Lord Sugar doesn't like wide boys to use his name to persuade people to invest (surprising nobody).  But it's a gamble...what if an analyst stands up one day and says, "Nah, no good"?  Is his business plan trying to run before it can walk?  Tom says no.  He would.

Ricky is going to teach an old dog new tricks.  Lord Sugar's worried that he's being moved over.  Has Shuggs got to tell his kids they're getting a new dad?  The one good thing going for him is that he's starting a new recruitment agency in the scientific and pharmaceutical industry.  Ricky's got funds in the business plan for year four's Christmas party, clearly demonstrating huge attention to detail (or perhaps he's concerned there'll be a run on Winter Pimm's in a few years' time).  And he's not a yes man.  Oh, no.

Nick's business is translating menus into grocery lists for supermarkets - an enormous software task.  Is it possible?  Why do it?  It's a trillion hours of software writing.  Nick's already got the prototype up and running.  It's a genuinely new idea, a lot more innovative than the others.

In summary

Lord Sugar sees "light at the end of the tunnel" in all four of the business plans.

Tom's business plan could be a calamity and Lord Sugar can't have his name associated with it.  Nick was the one chosen by the other team when they needed an extra team member.  Ricky Ratchet Jaws is an expert in his field.  Shuggs can understand how his business plan can work.  Jade can be a good motivator, manager, salesperson.  But does Lord Sugar want to be associated with a cold calling business?

No, no, he doesn't.  Jade's fired.  And I, for one, won't miss her.

And then there were three...

Tom - he might like to think about throttling back his ambition.  Ricky...has he learnt to stop bigging himself up?  Nick is obviously a very intelligent fella, but Lord Sugar doesn't want to do any work.  And where's the money?

He can't find it.  So Nick's fired.

And I, for one, will miss his foppishness and outstanding hair.

Just the two of them...

Lord Sugar asks Ricky and Tom to step outside so he can drag out the process for another five minutes.  Tom's bumfluff looks nervous.

Nick Hewer says it's a fast-moving, electrifying business to be involved in, but Lord Sugar's never done business with anyone else's money.

Ricky's got a pedestrian recruitment business, but Karren implores Lord Sugar not to rule him out because he's safe.

And they're back...

In his first year of trading, Tom turned over £1.25 million.  The target of £25 million can be pulled back.

Ricky's safer, but he wouldn't invest in Tom's wine business if he's successful in the future. He says he's not a risk for Lord Sugar.  Tom says he will take a risk, but, unlike Ricky, he has actually had the experience of running his own company.

Shuggs does a recap.  Ricky's business is very straightforward, simple.  Nick Hewer's known Lord Sugar for a long time and knows he likes a bit of devilment, which Tom's business might provide.

Devil...or safety?

He plumps for keeping it simple and straightforward - and Ricky is hired.

And I, for one, am finding it very amusing that Lord Sugar has gone into business with a man called Ricky Martin, who wears Lycra and wrestles men in his spare time.


  1. Wonder what new tricks Thor could teach Alan. Some kind of half nelson body slam nipple crush maybe?

  2. I would pay good money to see that.

    1. Right - well there's my market research done - I'm going to start on a business plan!