The final episode of this year’s The Apprentice was finally upon. Lord Sugar had to choose between two very strong women in Leah Totton and Luisa Zissman, and ultimately decide which business idea would net him the most money. Would Botox clinics win over baking accessories?
Luisa and Leah had much in common in reaching the final; glamorous women who were both very strong-willed and decisive throughout the entire show, but with good business ideas backed by in-depth knowledge of the area of expertise they wanted to work in. However, their personal journeys through the process were very different. Luisa started out by being manipulative and Machiavellian, whereas Leah was quieter. Luisa proved to be a better leader of people than she was a team player, in contrast Leah’s time as project manager showed her inexperience in business.
The program started with the two ladies ringing around ex-candidates in the hope they could secure themselves the best team. Leah managed to persuade Alex, Francesca, Myles and Uzma to join her in her final venture, while Luisa was the first to call Neil she was disappointed that she didn’t manage to get all the people she wanted and begrudgingly invited Jason, Zee and Natalie to be on her team.
If the episode had been a team building exercise it would certainly have thrown up some of both of the women’s character flaws. Neither showed particularly good listening skills—something essential for the success of any business, and both could do with working on their leadership skills as they came across as snappy, blunt and uncompromising, and in Leah’s case, often rather rude.
However, one could forgive them their faults as it was undoubtedly a very high pressure environment and they were working against the clock.
Both ladies had very clear ideas about how they wanted to brand their businesses, but paid very little attention to their team members or feedback from the general public. This stubbornness also ran over into the making of their videos, although Luisa seemed more relaxed and able to let others take some of the creative strain compared to her competitor.
Luisa’s ‘Baking Tool Kit’ was an online wholesale business selling all the ingredients and tools required for professional bakers. However, the branding led itself more towards the home consumer with the overuse of pink and the caricature of herself on the products.
Leah’s wanted a very clinical and clean brand for her cosmetic enhancement clinics, and came up with the name ‘Niks’—a play on the word ‘skin’. She stuck to her guns about the brand despite people telling her it looked boring and the word ‘niks’ conjured up images of being cut. Leah did however bow to opinion and made a slight concession, she decided that she would keep ‘Niks’, but refer to it as N.I.K.S. medical instead.
When it came to the launch of their businesses—which involved a pitch and the play of their corporate video to 100 assembled experts from the cosmetic and baking world—both ladies delivered good presentations. Luisa faltered slightly at the beginning with nerves but recovered well and both were challenged by difficult questions from the floor.
With nothing much between the ladies’ performances, it was down to whether Lord Sugar thought he would be best investing in Botox or cupcakes and in the end he was swayed by the bigger margins promised by Leah’s enterprise.
Unsure as to whether the decision may come back to haunt him, he declared Doctor Leah Totton this year’s Apprentice and we can all look forward to a Botox clinic coming to a high street near us very shortly!
Did Lord Sugar hire the right candidate? How would your teams fare on one of our Team Apprentice team building events?