So, how hungry did last night’s Apprentice make everyone?  In fact, right now I could murder a MyPy with a side order traditional British Columbus mash! Erm…

Last night’s task was all about setting up a fast food restaurant, creating a theme, a brand, the food, everything.  It was about launching a BUSINESS Jim!  Helen led the ever-wonderful Tom to create a traditional British pie shop, MyPy, while Jim managed Suzy and Natasha in creating the Mexican themed outlet, Caracas.

The first thing we learnt in tonight’s show was that some candidates need to go back to school.  Tom does claim to be an inventor, but dreaming that the Italian born Christopher Columbus was British is inventive even for him; and with all of Jim’s team believing ‘Caracas’ was just a cool, made up word, rather than the capital of Venezuela, it looks like Lord Al needs to hire a geography tutor! And then we have maths.  Does anyone else wish that Jedi Jim was their bank manager? Sixty people paying £7 each means turnover of £4,800… I’ll take that, thank you.  Its maths Jim, but not as we know it!

So let’s look at the two teams.  Helen and Tom first, with the seriously cool MyPy, which I have to say, I LOVED!

Helen and Tom have this great team dynamic, Helen is desperate to lead and to be in control, whereas Tom is naturally submissive and quite happy to be led by Helen – so it just works.  However, although Helen is keen to push herself forward, she has learned to listen to those around her.  When Tom said he had expertise in branding she took it on board and allowed him to take control (given, she had a little grumble, but she conceded in the end).

Letting Tom look after the brand was absolutely the right decision to make – MyPy was a fabulous brand – the imagery was cool, the name memorable and the restaurant looked fantastic.  As one of the experts pointed out the branding was simple, strong and very contemporary.

Helen led Tom with conviction, and despite Lord S’s concerns that she has never run a business before, she put together a thorough business plan, understood the importance of margins and managed the whole process with professionalism and confidence.  Throughout the eleven weeks Helen has grown as a candidate; she has taken on board advice and used it to improve herself.  She has listened and in the last few weeks she has really shone. I believe she’s a real contender for this year’s Apprentice.

Tom is just a joy to watch.  He has a humility about him that none of the other candidates possess.  He is kooky, sweet and has a real Hugh Grant-esque bumbling charm.  Who didn’t giggle when he was Qype, Qy-pie, Qy-pee-ing to himself trying to come up with a brand name? 

Tom’s strengths lie in that he is a natural team player, he is happy to follow command, but will really step up to the plate when he needs to.  His branding was spot on for this task, and he seemed to have a calming influence over Helen if ever she got flustered.  Does he have what it takes to run a business with Alan Sugar?  Maybe.  Despite the way he comes across, I think Tom has a lot to offer – and with the right guidance he could be a star.

So onto Jim’s team.  Ask yourself this… are you a Mexi-can or a Mexi-can’t? For Caracas last night, it was the latter.  And the problem with the team was not the squabbling between Suzy and Natasha, nor was it the lack of speed with their fast food.  No the problem was this… the behaviour of PM Jim.

Jim is a born salesman.  He excels in the kill of a sale, but a salesman is all he will ever be.  He does not have the interest or the motivation to view a business as a whole, and this has never been more evident than in his complete failure to pull together a business plan for his team. 

We have a term for people like Jim in business – Technical Specialist.  Technical Specialists are only interested in one area of a business, be it sales, marketing, data processing etc – it doesn’t matter, what it means is that they don’t see the big picture and the business as a whole. 

On the other end of the spectrum we have Generalist Business.  These are people who view a business as a whole but are not specifically interested in one particular specialism.  High Generalist Business will enjoy understanding how different elements of a business work together to create the overall company. There is no right or wrong with this, it is what motivates you; however you must recognise that if you are a high Technical Specialist you will never truly see business as a whole, whereas if you are a Generalist Business being tied to one specialism will bore you.

In the tasks that have been all about selling, Jim has surpassed everyone.  He has the charm, drive and passion to make a sale, but his lack of planning last night shows he does not understand, or worse, care, about all the other areas that make up a business. Jim has been a fantastic candidate to watch throughout the process, but I think he has a lot to learn, and needs to recognise and then address his flaws before he will ever run a successful business.

Finally let’s look at the girls, whose catfights and spats have been a source of amusement in recent weeks.  Firstly Suzy.  We’ve said it before – the girl is led by her emotions – she has a tendency to rush in head first without taking those around her on her journey and worse, dismissing everyone else’s ideas without a thought.  Despite this, I do like Suzy, maybe it’s because she’s young, but she does have a certain innocence about her, and I like to think that what comes across at times as thoughtlessness is actually the exuberance of youth.  She has achieved a hell of a lot for her 21 years and I believe she has a lot of potential.  Do I think she will be Lord Sugar’s next Apprentice? No.  She still has a long way to go, but nevertheless I think the girl will go far.

And lastly Natasha.  I don’t have a lot to say.  She has lacked throughout, she has never really sparkled, in fact, I think she only remained in the process by escaping the boardroom rather than because of spectacular performances.  She bought nothing to the table and there was no warmth to her to make you want her to succeed. 

Did Sugar make the right decision in firing her?  All together now… YEAH!

So that takes us to next week’s final, and this year more than ever it’s a hard one to call.  I’m not a gambling girl (unless you count horses, dogs and blackjack), but if I had to choose, my money would have to be on Helen… or maybe Tom.  Either way I believe if LorAl picks one of those two he’ll have landed himself a very worthy Apprentice.

I’ll see you next time, when we’ll know who’s landed themselves a Sugar Daddy!

Cesca x 

P.S. Margaret’s back next week – can’t wait!

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