Lord Sugar’s decision between “fixing broken hearts or broken boilers” underlines the gulf between the business plans - and personalities - of The Apprentice finalists Joseph Valente and Vana Koutsomitis.
In opting for plumbing over play dates, Valente over Vana, Lord Sugar showed his trademark no-nonsense approach tinged with an element of risk, as the plumbing sector is new to him. So what can viewers learn from the show’s winner and losers?
1. Appearances can be deceptive
As Claude said, if you go by looks, voice and educational background alone, Joseph Valente isn’t an obvious Apprentice winner. Expelled from school at 15, he managed to turn his life around.
One of his highlights came in the Handy Man episode where despite being pipped to project leader by Elle Stevenson, he supported her one hundred per cent with much needed knowledge and expertise. While his original business plan had flaws, his entrepreneurial zeal and leadership skills ensured he won the day.
2. Bulls**t always fails
Richard Woods - “a Swiss army knife of skills and enthusiasm” - was a good leader who won eight out of ten tasks and was thus supremely confident he would win. So why deliver a business plan so full of bulls**t and expect Lord Sugar to swallow it? Why not present a completely fresh idea rather than replicating a business he already runs, even using the same “mountain” concept? Talent aside, this monumental error meant he least deserved his place in the final five.
3. Hard work isn’t enough
Charleine Wain was a favourite of many: tenacious, hard-working and who has built a successful hair salon. Sadly for Charleine, the genius of the Apprentice format means that hard work alone is not enough. Her business plan – to launch a hair academy and a network of franchised salons – simply wasn’t realistic. I hope she takes Claude’s advice to focus on building her business locally, as she deserves every success.
4. Don’t make claims and then fail to deliver on them
Ruth Whitely owns a sales training consultancy but failed to sell on the pet product task while construction operations executive Elle came a cropper leading the DIY task. Candidates should know by now that using tasks to test CV claims is one of Lord Sugar’s favourite elimination strategies. By contrast, Joseph said he had read Lord Sugar’s biography, and when tested on it in the interviews, he knew all the answers.
5. Scary eyeliner is no barrier to success
I would not want to encounter a hard stare from Vana Koutsomitis. Initially struggling to control the squabbling girls’ group - she led the “shambles” of the Cross Channel task - Vana really grew through the process. Her gaming/dating app failed to win because it needed more investment than the £250,000 on offer. Lord Sugar said no but the novelty of the concept together with her overall competence and polish, means she won’t struggle to secure the backing she needs.