In the penultimate episode of the series we saw the final four candidates go head to head with Lord Sugar’s “most trusted advisors” for one-to-one interviews. These featured a deep dive into each of the business plans and CVs, with many an omission, overestimation, white lie and out-and-out lie pointed out.
Claude Littner was back, and in blistering form. His highlights included referring to Kathryn’s business plan as “the rantings of a lunatic”, responding to Stephanie’s plaintive request, “Would I be able to respond to that?” with a cutting “Not necessarily” and terminating Brittany’s interview early because she hadn’t included manufacturing costs in her plan. Each candidate had skeletons in the closet and these were exposed decisively by the interviewers. This was one of the most cringe-worthy episodes yet.
Let’s look at what we learned.
- Create a compelling USP (and make sure it’s truthful)
A Unique Selling Point (alternatively known as a Unique Selling Proposition) informs potential customers about what makes your product, service or business idea stand out from the crowd. Kathryn’s USP for her pyjama business, “the pyjama’s will be designed solely by myself using my expertise”, was quickly debunked when it was revealed she doesn’t design them. When pushed on the USP for her protein enriched vodka drink Brittany managed, “I do not think it tastes bad enough for not to purchase it” and Harpreet stated her USP is herself (despite it being revealed that she runs her business in partnership with her sister). A good USP should be defensible and demonstrable. It’s a basic.
- Be authentic
Two of the candidates shed a tear during the interview process. In fact, “Bring tissues” almost made it onto this week’s list of lessons learned. It was during a tearful moment that we saw “the real Stephanie” as she talked with Claudine Collins about what her dad’s mentorship and support means to her. Authenticity builds trust and strengthens personal connections. By allowing herself to be vulnerable, for what seemed like the first time in this process, Stephanie demonstrated her loyalty and how much she values mentorship, the traits of a great business partner. It’s a shame that for her, the process has come to an end.
- “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”
It was disheartening to see Lord Sugar attempt to pitch the candidates against each other in the final boardroom scene, asking, “Why do you think your business is better than theirs?” and “Do you think you’re a better proposition than these other two?”. Props to Harpreet who complimented Kathryn and Stephanie when answering this (unprofessional) question. A candle doesn’t burn any dimmer because it lights another. The right candidate with a decent business plan doesn’t need to do down the others in order to shine. And the right interviewer wouldn’t force them to do so.
Management Speak of the Week
“I’m not scared of anybody” – Harpreet
Ones to Watch?
Both Kathryn and Harpreet’s business plans were flawed. Lord Sugar has found himself to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, with only one task left to decide the winner.
Next week in the final we’ll see whose business ambitions are on the rocks, and who will emerge boulder.
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