None of this year’s finalists match Stuart the Brand for sheer watchability, they all seem hirable – although only one looks like a true entrepreneur to me. However of last year’s finalists I thought Susan Ma was stronger than Tom Pellereau, so what do I know.

Tonight is the interview round, where several of Lord Alan Sugar’s associates grill the candidates and dig into their business plans.

We don’t get to see much of the candidates business plans – which is one of the flaws of the current show set up. I’d like them to do a Dragon’s den style pitch to camera so that we could have some idea of what their pitching. But judging the finalists based on their track record, their performance during the show and what I can find out about their background the clear winner is Nick Holzherr. Although why he’d want the job is anyone’s guess. He could probably raise money for his projects in other ways.

Tom Gearing

LAS appeal Confident and well presented, without being posh. Has shown some ability to think strategically and accept the outcome if the strategy doesn’t pay off (the art task).
Before Apprentice Director of a fine wine investment company.
Head slap Showing off in the art-buying task to the point of alienating the artist, and thinking that was building a rapport
Track Record Won 7, lost 4. As Project manager won 2, lost 1. Has survived two trips to the board room.
Interview I was known as a BNOC = big name on campus. Margaret questions whether “N” stand for name.
Big idea Hedge funds for fine wines – making them an asset class. Not a completely original idea, wine has been an investment opportunity for a while.

Nick Holzherr

LAS appeal Experience and some success in the world of Technology – an area that LAS is nostalgic about.
Before Apprentice Technology entrepreneur; has already created several companies.
Head slap He hasn’t created any hate vibes, he’s behaved diplomatically with project managers in difficult situations. No head slap I can think of.
Track Record Won 8, lost 3. As Project manager won 2, lost 0, only one trip to the boardroom (on the final task).
Interview 145 million pound return in 5 years. Decent return – said with eyebrows raised.
Big idea A website that allows you to add ingredients to a shopping list from any web-published recipe. Something like foodient I guess.

Ricky Martin

LAS appeal Has a little bit of the ‘rough diamond’ character that reminds LAS of his younger self.
Before Apprentice Recruitment Team Leader
Head slap The semi-scripted banter about bad backs. More cringe than head slap.
Track Record Won 6, lost 5. As Project manager won 1, lost 2. Has survived four trips to the board room.
Interview Compared himself to a God, unsurprisingly Margaret Mountford pulled him up on that.A comment on his use of “Ricky”, yes, it’s official he uses it deliberately to be more memorable. Fake alert.
Big idea Huh? recruiting? ethical? sustainable?

Jade Nash

LAS appeal Fights her corner in the boardroom. Shown negotiating skills (the daily-offer/Groupon challenge).
Before Apprentice Business Development Officer
Head slap “I can work it out if it’s round numbers” comment in the daily discount challenge.
Track Record Won 5, lost 6. As Project manager won 1, lost 1. Has survived three trips to the board room.
Interview Ooops, no numbers in the business plan
Big idea telemarketing service centre

Postscript; The winner was Ricky Martin. Once again the worst performer on the tasks among the finalists won. (Last year Tom Pellereau won, despite losing 8/11 tasks, beating Helen Milligan who lost just 1 of the 11 tasks). Which indicates that the tasks are irrelevant which could be for one of three reasons;

  • LAS chooses to ignore them
  • the tasks themselves do not test entrepreneurialism – in which case the tasks should be redesigned.
  • there is much more weight put on the business plan. If so shouldn’t more than 1/2 of an episode be devoted to the plans?

Performance data; Wikipedia
Candidate Biographies; BBC
Photo originally from BBC, I find multiple uses of it on various sites but no rights information.

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