The Apprentice 2017 – The Final

The show has finished now but I am catching up

Sky Garden


The finalists meet inside Sky Garden

The candidates are to present their businesses to over 200 experts across the way in City Hall.

City Hall

Siobhan, Andrew, Michaela, Harrison, Anisa, Elizabeth, Joanna, Charles

It’s back to the awkward “pick a team” moment. Everyone wants to be first choice and no-one wants to be last!

James picks Charles, Sarah picks Michaela, James picks Joanna, Sarah picks Harrison, James picks Elizabeth, Sarah picks Andrew, James picks Anisa and poor Siobhan is left to go to Sarah!

Lord Sugar says Sarah has to show she can expand her business and James has to show he can stand out in a crowded market. 

Sarah’s team: Siobhan, Harrison, Sarah, Andrew, Michaela


James’ team: Anisa, Elizabeth, Joanna, James, Charles 

In the taxis, the candidates get reacquainted. In the taxi with Sarah, Michaela says she couldn’t have gone out to two better people, but mainly Sarah!  Charles hugs James saying he’s a great lad, and James says it’s been a train wreck without him. “Do you two need some space?” jokes Joanna who’s in the same taxi!

Coming up with names for his recruitment company, James points out ConnectIT has the word tit in it and they all laugh!

Sarah’s suggests “city sweets”, “sweet city”. Claude says she’s picked a team who aren’t creative which isn’t a good start.

The teams split, one half to do continue doing branding and the other to work on a digital advertising billboard. James has unfortunately chosen Joanna to help him with the branding when she’s already shown she isn’t good at it. They ponder for ages trying to come up with a name.

Elizabeth, Charles and Anisa work on James’ digital billboard. Elizabeth says Charles looks the most corporate. They have some props available and against Elizabeth’s better judgement they dress Charles as a lobster to make him stand out! Still struggling for names, James phones Elizabeth to ask how they’re doing. He mentions they are struggling for names and Elizabeth suggest “first tier recruitment”. Joanne suggest to James they change it to “first tier talent”.

Sarah with not much help from Harrison, who contibutes “sweet” comes up with Sarah’s Chic Sweets. For Sarah’s billboard, Andrew holds an umbrella over Siobhan protecting her from raining sweets, thrown by Michaela. Michaela says Sarah is going to hate it! They put the picture over a city scape. Andrew reckons it doesn’t look high end at all.

The following day the sub-teams show their PMs their billboard designs. James looks at Charles dressed as a lobster and says he stands out, he gets it and likes it! On the other hand, Sarah isn’t happy with her ad. She said the brief was glamorous, sophisticated and it’s novelty which she wanted to steer away from. She decides to swap Harrison with Andrew.

James comes up with the concept for his TV advert which is a track race with is won by the runner from his agency. He says the tagline is “Get a head start in your IT career with “First Tier Talent” the champion of IT careers”. He swaps Joanna with Elizabeth so Joanna can direct it. James and Elizabeth meet a web designer to come up with a website. They brainstorm ideas but James goes with Elizabeth’s suggestions.

Charles, Joanna and Anisa are at a running track filming James’ advert. They are all runners with Charles winning the race.

In the taxi to the product designers, Sarah tells Andrew she’s after a personalised gifting box of sweeties which will go through a postbox. “Would you buy a card with sweets in it?” she asks him, “I’m a bit tight when it comes to stuff like that, so I’m probably the wrong person to ask” he says and she laughs! When they gets to the designers Sarah says she is really unhappy with the name “Sarah’s Chic Sweets” and brainstorm new names. She wants it to be more global in feel and reach. She suggests “”Stylish sweets”, “sweet stop”, “sweeteze”.  Sarah changes it to “Sweeteze”. Unfortunately, Michaela is filming a TV video showing a postman delivering first bills, then flowers, then “Sarah’s Chic Sweets” to Siobhan.  Michaela says Siobhan is doing her head in because she is joking about and keeps opening the door to the postman at the wrong time. Sarah phones Michaela’s sub-team and tells the, the new name and tagline. Michaela asks if she is sure and isn’t having a “Simon” moment like she did?!  This referred back to the week 3 “Robots” task where Michaela changed the name of their robot from Jeffrey to Simon after a load of unreversable work had been done using the Jeffrey name, messing up the task. Sarah says she is sure. Michaela’s accept it but wonder why she’s done it.

Both teams edit their TV ads. Joanna, Charles and Anisa are looking at James’ ad. Charles says it’s the same as what James’s said on his storyboard. Karren asks where the storyboard is and they realise they left it back at the track. The storyboard had the TV tagline on it. Anisa and Charles notice after the deadline that they’ve put “champions of IT careers” when it should be “champions of IT recruitment”. Joanna says she didn’t notice!

Two former winners come and give a pep talk to the finallists.  Last year’s winner, Alana, comes to see Sarah, while 2012 winner, Ricky, comes to see James. Recruitment business owner Ricky tells James to focus on cyber security. Alana tells Sarah to get the passion for her business across.

The following day is pitch day. 

Some samples of Sarah’s post friendly gift packages arrive which go down well with her and the team.

The finallists choose someone to help them with their pitch and the rest to get feedback on the digital ad. Elizabeth points out to James that lobsters partner for life and his clients could partner with his company for life and that’s why Charles is a lobster! 

At Canary Wharf, James’ ad is being shown and his team ask passers by for comments.  “very” bright”, “big and loud”.  Asked what it is advertising they get “I’ve absolutely no idea”, “I’m assuming I.T”

On Sarah’s ad they get “I wouldn’t look at it think, wow I’ve got to buy that”, “to much going on, too busy”.  They do get pretty good feedback on their sample gift boxes though.

In the car to the pitch, Andrew says not to mention the awful feedback they got about the digital billboard to Sarah. Siobhan says that Sarah said she wanted to hear the negative feedback though and says they’ll leave that to Harrison, much to his shock!

On arrival at City Hall Sarah asks about the feedback “good, really good, all positive” says Harrison! “They all know it was to do with sweets which is a great start”. Sarah asks if there was any negatives and they says they all loved Sarah’s post gift boxes, sidestepping the issue.

Meanwhile Elizabeth tells James that the feedback was that the ad needed to stand out more as most people didn’t know what it was for. James says they just needed to stand out in IT recruitment which is what he was going for.

4pm. Over 200 people including heads and representatives from major businesses, including confectionery and recruitment, fill City Hall to hear James and Sarah give their presentations.

Sarah gives her presentation first. She says if you want to send flowers on-line one brand immediately comes to mind but there isn’t one for sweets which is what “Sweeteze” is about. She shows the TV ad. She says the USP (unique selling point) is the quirky gift messaging that sits alongside the sweets and the way they’re packaged. Some samples of the post gift boxes are on the desks of the front audience to look at and Sarah says they market tested them on some members of public and everyone said they would like to receive them. She says they can send sweets this way anywhere in the world and then opens up the floor to questions. 

Head of marketing for Nestle asks her ambition for the size of the business and if it is a just a niche idea. Sarah says the market is huge and there is no current leader in that field and it needs one. An owner of an independent group of confectionery companies asks why people would go to her just for sweets when they could go to another company for flowers, existing chocolate ranges, champagne and even sweets. She says it’s ridiculous how many people are searching for “sweets for Mum”, “sweets for Dad” and no-one appears at the top of those search rankings for that and that’s where Sweeteze should be. She thanks people for the questions and says she hopes she has demonstrated she would be a fantastic business partner for Lord Sugar, she is passionate, driven and wil make the business a success.

After the pitch, Lord Sugar asks the experts for their opinions. The Nestles marketting head says that personalised is here and now and no-one is doing it particularly well in the industry. Lord Sugar says he wonders about the scalability. One expert says if she created a brand that’s an aspirational item than it could be. Another says it easy to get one customer but to get them coming back for repeat purchases the business model doesn’t scale.

James does his pitch, saying he is there to unveil his IT recruitment business, “First Tier Talent” and they are “First Tier” and the champions of IT careers. He says their USP is their specialisms and one of them is cyber security which is a big problem right now. They can put the best people into the best companies to help that. He brings up the digital billboard showing Charles in his lobster costume. He says it’s about standing out and Charles is dressed as a lobster because they have lifelong partners which he hopes his clients and companies will be. He shows the track race TV advert then the website which allows a candidate to look for jobs, build and submit a CV. He opens the floor to questions.

One lady who runs a group for young entrepreneurs says this is the sixth pitch she’s seen that week for a recruitment agency and each one says they are going to be unique in a different way and how is he going to be? He says you’re coming to someone who’s an expert in that little field. He says they’d go to a company and says they’ve got the best cyber security people on the market, then start it that way.

The chief marketing officer from GoDaddy (domain and website provider) says 9 out of 10 start ups fail, not making it to the end of the first year and what makes him different. James says “me”. He says he started in a company from nothing and went from zero to the top biller in two years. He says that’s unheard of in his industry and he had the highest contract business around and broke into the biggest clients. He says it’s his ambition, drive and background, everything that would make the business a success would be him. To Lord Sugar he says he made a point to him about rookie mistakes and he will be the first to hold a hand up to that and says that once he’s made them he won’t make them again.

Lord Sugar asks the experts if he can stand out in the industry and they says it’s highly competitive and he needs to very, very focussed. One chap says if he came tomorrow he would give him some business. Another says he’s not going to struggle from an employer side but there is a massive shortage of people with skills in that area. Another says it’s a well defended hill and how does he get to the top of it?

Back in the boardroom 

Sarah, Michaela, Siobhan (standing), Andrew and Harrison

Lord Sugar says to Sarah, indicating her team, “this is your pick and mix. Willie Wonka and oompa loompas”! “Hope that’s not the tan” jokes Andrew. “It IS a bit orange” says Karren! “Anyway, you ended up with allsorts that’s for sure” jokes Sugar.

He mentions about the name change and she says she didn’t like “Sarah’s Chic Sweets” and was up all night worrying anout it. He says he quite likes “Sweeteze” but likes the fact she didn’t like something and decided to change it. They discuss the post gift box and he says it’s discreet, in plain white packaging, a bit like something from Ann Summers, to which everyone laughs and Claude asks “How do you know?” and he says “you told me!”. They discuss the TV ad and Lord Sugar says he remembers the ad for Milk Tray where the guy flew in on a helicopter and jumps in with the chocolates. Michaela says they didn’t have the budget! Lord Sugar says they had a guy with a shoebox! Sarah says she was happy with the ad, simple but effective. Lord Sugar asks Sarah’s team if they are surprised she got to the final and they say not at all, “she was number one from day one”  says Andrew. “Really?” asks Lord Sugar “What did you hang around for then?” and they all laugh “I just thought I’d try and be a bit of an inconvenience!” he says.

Asked if they rated the business, Michaela says she would buy it, Harrison says the consumer research showed not one person could name a household name which did this in sweets. Michaela says everyone said they would buy the product “and would like to receive it” adds Siobhan.

Charles, Elizabeth, Anisa (standing), Joanna and James

To James he says he got in a bit of a flap with his name “First Tier Talent”. Karren says it sounds entry level and Lord Sugar says the ad doesn’t look like an IT recruiting site. He says they dressed Charles as a lobster and Elizabeth says they mate for life. “Looking at that, I think you’d be the last one in the tank in the restaurant, Charles, to be honest with you” jokes Lord Sugar to Charles.

He mentions the TV ad at the track and says he got their ad more than the other team’s. Karren says there was a voiceover mistake though where they said “champions of IT recruitment” as opposed to “champions of IT careers” because they left the storyboard at the track. Lord Sugar says there was a lack of correlation between the poster and TV ad.

Asked who developed the website, James says Elizabeth and himself. Lord Sugar says they went for orange so were the “Easyjet” of IT recruitment. Lord Sugar asks James’ team about his business and Elizabeth says “he’s got some fantastic ideas, and his market is huge”. Asked if he’s a justified winner of the process Charles says “without question” and Elizabeth says “Personally, Lord Sugar, I think you’ve got the two best people in front of you, but James is our boy”.

Lord Sugar thanks the past candidates for returning and helping the finallists and wishes them well.

James and Sarah

Lord Sugar says they’re giving him a headache because they’re both very credible candidates, so he says he will do a “deep dive” to get more information.

He says when people decide to send a gift they don’t just decide to send sweets, they go to a gifting website and look for something that they like then send that. Sarah says the demand is there, people search for “sweet gifts”, “sweet baskets” and nothing is coming up and there is huge potential to lead that field. He says he doesn’t know of any proper company which doesn’t have an e-commerce website. She says they haven’t spent on a lot so far due to lack of expertise to scale the website up and it is important that is right, so they’ve focussed on brand awareness and getting people to love their products. Lord Sugar says if they do get thousands of orders which may include a customised message or photo how do you process that. She says at the moment they just stick a label on the box but there is machinery to do that. Lord Sugar asks how much that would cost and she doesn’t know.

To James he says so he goes in to see the IT manager of a company and says what he can do. James says he asks them what they need since if they are willing to meet him then they probably have a problem. He says he’d use similar experience to say he has built a whole team around someone and can do the same for them too. Lord Sugar says it’s a very crowded market and James says he has shown he is very charismatic and thinks he’s quite endearing. “Well you might be all right for a drink down the pub, but the last thing the world is waiting for is James Whites’ new recruitment company” says Lord Sugar. James says he goes into a client and owns that client. He becomes the only person they use and that’s not by chance, it’s the way he goes about his business and the way he can network.
Lord Sugar says he has looked at James business plan and a lot depends on two of his previous customers continuing working with him. James says he is not backing himself just to get these clients. He says when he went in at his previous company he had no clients, he had to go out and get them and the new business is getting new clients too.

Lord Sugar says to James that Sarah runs a business, employs people, does PAYE, VAT and he hasn’t done any of this. James says he dealt with different teams. Karren says he’ll find that the principles of being a manager are quite different to that of a business owner.

Lord Sugar says he has a dilemma and he will ask them to take a break while he talks to Karren and Claude and when they come back one of them will be hired. James and Sarah leave the room.

James and Sarah

Lord Sugar says that it is obvious there are two fantastically skilled people there. He says Sarah is very eloquent and knows her business inside out, but doesn’t get why she hasn’t done her website properly. Karren says she needs that push to take her out of her comfort zone. About James, he says it’s a crowded market but he has proved he can do it when he works for someone. Lord Sugar asks Claude what he thinks. Claude says he does have a problem because he thinks they’re both investable. He says with Sarah he has slow and steady but with James he is going to really go for it. Karren says James is risky, Sarah is an expert in her field and has spotted a gap in the market and has all the skills an entrepreneur needs, but says she doesn’t envy him his decision.

“Does it come down to this?” asks Lord Sugar and flips a coin. “It shouldn’t be, should it?” he says. “The truth is Alan, in the end your gut tells you everything” says Claude.

Lord Sugar calls them back in.  

Final decision 

Lord Sugar says it boils down to this. He has two very credible people in front of him, one is a big gamble and the other is a scaling issue. Sarah says she will be the most successful Apprentice candidate ever. Sarah says she is a risk taker, she has grown the business on her own, she has £430,000 of sales, whilst working, whilst being a full time Mum and has got new customers coming on board whilst in the process and two she is working on. She says she has hit the numbers for year one without his investment so with it, it’s limitless.

James says if his business was going for seven years he’d scale it a lot quicker. He says his investment is spent on people and they would be earning from day one. He says he is hungry for this and Lord Sugar says so is Sarah. “But I’m the BEST recruitment consultant out there. I KNOW this industry like the back of my hand” says James. Lord Sugar says the experts the previous day said their problem was the USP (unique selling point). He says James claims it’s cyber security and asks how many people in this he has placed in the past. “Over 100 consultants” says James “it’s the hottest skill demand at the moment in my industry”.

Sarah injects at this point and says if she was looking at them she would says it’s the difference between an employee and an entrepreneur. “An entrepreneur with £400,000 in seven years?” mocks James. “Well it’s £400,000 more than you have James” retorts Sarah! James says she doesn’t take risks and she says she makes mistakes on her own time with her own money so that now everything is in place, to not make rookie mistakes or naive statements. She says there are no unique USPs in the IT recruitment business. She says she needs investment and some mentoring on some guidance to hit what markets, then she will do it all on her own.
James tells Lord Sugar that the stats say 1.5 million skills shortage by 2020 within cyber security. He says he believes he won’t find a better candidate to front a business in his industry, an industry which he knows works and is extremely profitable if you get it right.

Lord Sugar says this final has given him a dilemma. He says to James that it’s a crowded market but he has had some experience with a similar person of a similar age and who is making a lot of money. He says he hasn’t any experience of the sweets business.
He says he’s always been a gambler in business and this particular year he’s going to double his investment and start a business with both of them!
They both leave the boardroom, thanking Lord Sugar.

To Karren and Claude he says it was so, so close and he really couldn’t decide so has two wonderful business partners. Claude says James picked an industry which is very,very hot at the moment and is probably the man to take it forward. Karren says Sarah spent all those years building up and now he can help her launch it and make it special. “Shall we have her sweets at our board meetings in future?” says Lord Sugar. Karren laughs and Claude says “I would insist upon it!”

The winners hug

In the car James says “I have always, since I was a young boy, looked up to Lord Sugar as a businessman, and to now be his business partner this is literally a dream I’ve always had, and for that dream to come true is just very, very humbling”

James wins

In the other car, Sarah says “It’s incredible. I’m just shocked and amazed, and so proud that Lord Sugar found enough in both of us to make a double investment. The future is definitely sweet and it’s going to be a great adventure.”

Sarah wins

In his own car, Lord Sugar says “Well, there I was, torn. I just couldn’t choose between one or the other, and the only fair thing to do was to choose them both. The thing is of course it’s now going to cost me £500,000 but it’s worth it.


Well that was a surprise. I must say I didn’t see that coming at all. Honestly I didn’t really think either finallist was strong and thought he would struggle to pick one candidate at all but he picked both of them!

If I would have been firing James and Sarah would have been fired weeks ago. It’s hard to tell but I think I’d have been choosing between Elizabeth’s flowers and Harrison’s healthy eating perhaps!

However, it was IT recruitment vs sweets through the mail and I really wasn’t keen on either.
James was banging on about having people with specialisms in cyber security. It wasn’t until past winner Ricky mentioned it that James made it a focus. When Lord Sugar asked him how many cyber security specialists he’d placed in the last year he suddenly had a figure to hand. I don’t believe it. Also, how will he know they are the best people anyway. He has no knowledge in that area. He’s just a salesman. He’s just a middle man between a potential employee and an employer. They just talk to each other! Of course what will make James’ company stand out is who his business partner now is.  Nope.

As for Sarah’s sweets, her sweets are literally repackaged pick and mix sweets. They are not high end in any way and she doesn’t make them. Interflora already do sweets, chocolates with their flowers. I suppose getting a card box through the post with a few basic sweets is o.k. but I can’t see it being that popular for repeats. If they were luxury in some way fine, but pick and mix? I was amazed that nobody asked where Sarah sourced her sweets from as she is obviously dependant on her supplier.
Her first problem is the name again as “sweeteze” is already in use! Nope.

I think it’s been a poor series really with Elizabeth being the standout character. The business plans of the final five were pretty poor and I always end up wondering whether the earlier fired candidates’ business plans would have been better.

Let’s hope next year’s candidates have some good ideas and they’re not all apps either!

Task summary
Week  Task name Winning team  Back in Boardroom Fired Comments
 1 Burgers Graphene (the girls) Elliott, Danny, Charles Danny Disagree. Would have fired Charles if only for having silly glasses!
 2 Hotel redesign Graphene (the girls) Jeff, Ross, James Jeff  Disagree. Would have fired Ross for lack of leadership.
 3 Robots Graphene (the girls) Harrison, Michaela, Elliot Elliot Disagree. Would have fired Michaela
 4 Stadium
Vitality (the boys plus Michaela and Sarah) Elizabeth, Siobhan, Joanne Siobhan  Agree, based on who was available.
 5 Lord Sugar’s birthday Graphene (the girls, minus Michaela and Sarah, plus James) Ross, Sajan, Harrison  Ross Disagree. Difficult one as they were all bad but probably would have fired Sajan for lack of planning.
 6 Bruges tour  Graphene Andrew, Sarah Jayne, Charles   Sarah Jayne Agree, but would have also fired Charles a shambolic performance.
 7 Advertising 
 Vitality  Elizabeth, Sajan, James, Joanna  Sajan Disagree. Would have fired James and Joanna.
8 Doggy business Graphene Andrew, Charles and Anisa Andrew,Anisa
then Charles
(triple firing)
semi agree, would have fired Charles and Andrew
9 Food boxes  Vitality Elizabeth, Sarah, Bushra Bushra  agree, but would have sent Sarah, Joanna and Jade home too.
10 Fashion show  Graphene  Harrison, Jade, Sarah  Harrison then Jade  disagree, would have fired Sarah (and Harrison if we needed a final five)
11 Interviews N/A Joanna, James, Michaela, Elizabeth, Sarah Joanna then Elizabeth then Michaela  Disagree,
would have fired Joanna, James and Sarah
12 Final N/A James, Sarah none Disagree,
would have hired neither as I would have different finalists.

Posted on January 18, 2018, in Reality TV and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Apprentice 2017 – The Final.

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