The Apprentice 2014 episode 10 review: How to make business friends and influence customers

Dan Martin
Former editor
BusinessZone.co.uk
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Dannie-Lu Carr, co-founder of female leadership programme The Five Gateways, reviews the latest episode of BBC TV's The Apprentice.

So last night's task was one of sweet delights. The contestants had to come up with a premium pudding, inspired by high end dining to market to three key retailers. The team with the most sales won. No mean feat of a task to pull this together in a matter of days and there were some clear lessons to be learned, both for the contestants themselves and the business owners who watched. 

Lesson 1: Enable people to play to their strengths
It was a simple and smart manoeuvre from Lord Sugar to mix up the teams in order to create some edge as so far the teams have regularly been caught in egocentric child’s play, much to the detriment of their task in hand. Katie and Roisin were selected as project managers and both women took the helm strongly in the opening stages of the initial team meetings, revealing fascinating lessons on the effects of assertiveness.
Katie was clear and concise about the roles she envisaged for Team Tenacity, and if Mark or Sanjay felt ill-placed neither of them said so, but it is worth considering whether a little more consultation in terms of roles may well have benefited the team as the task unraveled. In contrast, while Roisin asserted herself just as strongly as Katie, her style was much more democratic and when Solomon pushed back assertively, with good reasoning and with the project at the focal point of his mind, rather than his ego, she listened to her team and it paid off.
Lesson 2: Listen to the experts
On more than one occasion, Katie was advised by experts to go easy on the saffron when she was creating the desserts, but despite openly admitting she is no chef, carried on regardless. Of course this is The Apprentice, not Masterchef, so it would be unfair to judge Katie on her cooking ability, but the problem was failing to make use of the resources at her disposal.
Asking for help isn’t always the easiest thing to do in business, but recognising your limitations with humility and being able to take feedback onboard is a crucial skill. Some people would worry that being influenced by others is a sign of weakness, but being able to evaluate all the information available to you and make an informed, clear decision is a sign of a great leader.
 
Lesson 3: Honesty is the best policy
Having already designed and created their products ready to pitch to the retailers, the market research piece felt largely academic, but it was a mistake to ignore feedback and fail to use it at all. Lord Sugar raised a good point to Team Tenacity in the boardroom that the small amount of negative feedback on a product was not only important to take into account, but to name it during the pitch as a pre-empt.
As far as influencing goes, honesty wedded with assertive delivery is very powerful indeed. People buy from people, and by being open, honest and authentic and showing the retailers they were addressing the products’ flaws and had their customers at the forefront of their minds, the pitches would have been more effective than simply putting on an ultra-positive front.
 
Lesson 4: Make people feel their input is valued
As the task moved on for both teams, it became very clear who was working together and who was fragmented. Team Tenacity were certainly working hard on their communication skills and initially seemed to operate as one, though I think a second person in the kitchen with Katie may have not only steered her away from her costly saffron decision but also resulted in less confused branding.
For Summit, the division was not only apparent from the beginning but was also predominantly created by the project manager, Roisin. It was a lesson learned in how not to lead; alienating people and undermining people distracts from the project itself and instead becomes a game of one-upmanship. Fascinatingly, she got the lesson during the task when Daniel, through his tenacity, pushed assertively for his right to interject at the pitches. By pitch three, the team looked to be working in a collaborative way and once they all felt like they had a valued input they were positively beaming towards the end. This was a turnaround indeed.

About Dan Martin

About Dan Martin

Dan Martin has 10 years experience as a journalist writing about entrepreneurs and the issues that affect them.

After three years working as a researcher for Sky News, he joined BusinessEurope.com as a reporter. This was followed by two years working as news editor for Startups.co.uk during which time Dan also contributed to Growing Business magazine. In 2006, he joined Sift Media as business editor before being promoted to editor of BusinessZone.co.uk. He also has responsibility for UK Business Forums, the UK’s most active online forums for small business entrepreneurs. In addition, Dan founded The Pitch, BusinessZone.co.uk's nationwide competition for small business owners. He host the grand finals in 2009 and 2010 in front of an audience of 300. 

As well as interviewing many entrepreneurs, Dan has written content for leading business organisations such as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, British Chambers of Commerce, Forum of Private Business, Investors in People and Business Link for London. Among the publications that have quoted Dan are The Times, Mail On Sunday, Financial Times, Personnel Today and Bristol Evening Post. His articles have also been published by publications including eGov Monitor, Virgin Express in-flight magazine and Personal Success.

Dan regularly speaks at events about small business and social media issues. Among the events he has presented at are the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies' annual conference, Learning Technologies, Publishing Expo and World of Learning. He has also chaired high profile debates featuring senior representatives from Business Link and the Federation of Small Businesses and Dragons' Den judge James Caan.

Dan was named the 10th most influential political blogger on Twitter by the Independent and won the public award for best B2B tweeter at the Golden Twits 2010. He also organised the Bristol Twestival, part of a global Twitter driven charity initiative, in February 2009 and March 2010. Volunteers from 175 cities around the world organised events using the social network. In total, $350,000 was raised for charity: water in 2009 and $500,000 for Concern in 2010. In Bristol, £1,500 and £5,600 was raised.

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