Sunday, 21 July 2013

Dr Leah, I presume

The Final: 17th July 2013

Dara's here to ERRRRRRRR greet us and remind us that after the final, he'll be here for a very special episode of You're Hired! starring the winner, the runner-up, and some social commentator-type people. Several people pointed out on Twitter at the time of broadcast that You're Hired! is a bit of a misnomer these days considering Lordalan isn't actually offering a job any more. It's a valid point, but then arguably "you're fired!" is even worse because not only can you not fire someone from a job that isn't on offer, but you also can't fire someone for a job that you haven't hired them for yet, so that one's ALWAYS been a misnomer. Sometimes a catchphrase is just a catchphrase. Maybe they should've just done what Martha Stewart did with her version and say something different every week. Although maybe not, because Martha Stewart's version got cancelled after one season. Anyway, yes, Dara will be here at the end to chat to Luisa, Dr Leah and Lordalan in this special L-themed final, and as usual we're not going to recap that in detail but we'll try to note down a few of the key points that it covers.

Onward, and previously on The Apprentice: well, everything. But specifically, interviews. Jordan's experience was by far the most brutal when it turned out that his business plan was an idea that he didn't personally own, and that he was offering less than 50% of the business's equity. I really think he meant to go on Dragons' Den and got in the wrong lift or something. As a result, he was dismissed swiftly when he got back to the boardroom. Arguably the biggest shock of the competition came when Neil Neckbeard's business idea turned out to be a complete non-starter, something that everyone except Neil could see, and he mistook their desperate attempts to get him to abandon it and suggest something viable for a test of his convictions, so he stood firm and ended up getting the boot. Dr Leah was confirmed as the first finalist, which left Luisa and Francesca vying for the final spot, but ultimately Luisa's proven business experience beat Francesca's "I came up with £5m profit because it sounded good", and Francesca went back to her lookalikes agency to discover that a high-profile employment tribunal had come up and there was a sudden interest in Stella English lookalikes, so basically it was a win-win for her. Now it's down to Leah vs Luisa. Doctor vs baker. Botox vs cupcakes. Good vs evil. Okay, maybe not that last one.

It's 5pm, and Dr Leah and Luisa are lounging around in their sweats with the curtains drawn. After the weather we've been experiencing this week, I can completely understand the instinct behind that, but this is not the behaviour I expect from Britain's most promising entrepreneurs. At the very least I expect you to be watching Bloomberg and on the phone to your accountant in Jersey. I mean, Luisa is wearing a STARS AND STRIPES ONESIE, for goodness' sake. There is never any excuse for that, and certainly not on television. Anyway, they chat briefly about how neither of them expected to be here, and now they have to prove that they deserve it, until they're interrupted by the phone ringing. They trot downstairs and Luisa picks it up gingerly as though this is the endgame in a particularly tricky bomb defusal. NotFrances tells them that Lordalan wants to meet them at One Marylebone (I've been there!) and the cars will be on their way in 30 minutes. Luisa hangs up and exclaims "we've got a task!" in slight disbelief. I know the format's slightly different this year, but really, what was she expecting? That at some point they'd just have to ippy-dippy for it?

They rush off to get ready, and voice over a bit more about what a life-changing opportunity this is. They arrive at One Marylebone, and it's rather dark and ominous. Nick and Karren are waiting, of course, and Lordalan arrives to get things going. He tells them that this is their opportunity to convince him to sign on the dotted line, because their final task is to launch their business. What a brilliant idea! So they're going to obtain premises, negotiate with suppliers, hire staff, deal with tricky customers...oh, no, hang on, we're doing this Apprentice-style so in fact they're making a website, a promo video and doing a presentation. I'm willing to overlook this slightly underwhelming final task because the rest of this series has been a solid A+ in my book, but it would still have been kickass (if admittedly a lot more complex on a logistical level) to have a final task that really tested their business abilities in real terms. Lordalan likes Luisa's idea, but he wants her presentation to clear up the details. Dr Leah, on the other hand, needs to convince Lordalan to invest in an idea that's well outside of his wheelhouse.

Briefing over, the first job is for Luisa and Dr Leah to hire themselves some staff. They head off to separate rooms to sift through some RAYSOOMAYS (/headshots taken by production staff). Luisa interviews that there's nothing wrong with being a strong, independent businesswoman (apart from the fact that you don't have time for bad dates, eh Jordan?) and she's fed up of being called manipulative, so she intends to use the final task to show that she's totally a decent human being. Her first call is to the Neckbeard where she's all "HI NEIL I'M IN THE FINAL HOW ARE YOU?" in her usual endearingly crass fashion, but the good news is she's got to him first, so Neckbeard signs up for Team Luisa. Dr Leah, on the other hand, is being typically succinct and businesslike in making her calls, and quickly enlists Alex, Francesca and Uzma. The usefulness of Dr Leah's speedy approach becomes apparent when we cut back to Luisa, who tries to get both Alex and Francesca before discovering that they're already spoken for, and Myles only to discover that his phone is switched off. Probably got an urgent summons from one of the bored housewives of Monte Carlo, I'd imagine. (Hey, if anyone's getting a spinoff, I know that's the one I want to see.)

Luisa wails that this means she's left with Zee and Jason. Interestingly, some people appear not to have been on the shortlist - even if you discount the early boots like Jaz, Tim and Sophie, there's still no sign of Kurt, Jordan or Rebecca, all of whom I would imagine Luisa would've chosen over Jason if she'd had any choice, and probably over Zee as well. So I'd imagine production had their reasons for picking these specific candidates for the final task, which are probably drama-related, since Dr Leah was fairly instrumental in Zee's firing, and Luisa played a big part in Jason's. Anyway, Luisa says that she really doesn't want Jason because he'll be "detrimental", but she sucks it up and makes a very clenched phone call anyway to ask him to be on her team, and Jason drawls, with what I would imagine to be some degree of irony, that he'd love to be part of such an exciting prospect. Luisa interviews that she's got more business experience than Dr Leah anyway, so it makes sense that Dr Leah would need a stronger team around her. It's a fun little backhander of a comment, but I don't think she means any real malice here: I think she's just a bit frustrated that she was too slow to get the people she really wanted.

7am the next day, and the exiled Apprentices return to help their temporary bosses with the branding exercise. Despite the framing of the previous segment, each finalist has actually booked four former rivals to come back and assist them, so Team Dr Leah is Alex, Francesca, Uzma and Myles, while Team Luisa is Neckbeard, Jason, Zee and Natalie. Without wishing to sound impolite, Luisa really did get the short straw here, didn't she? Not necessarily in terms of individuals, but in terms of personality clashes she's got Luisa/Jason and Zee/Natalie to contend with. Dr Leah welcomes her team back, informing them that they were all her first choices and she didn't have to ring anyone else. (Uzma was your first choice? Really? I mean, I get that she's in the beauty industry and that you're opening a cosmetic enhancement clinic but still...Uzma? REALLY?) Meanwhile, you could slice the air on Team Luisa with a spork as she explains her idea for a wholesale baking goods retailer. She talks about needing to get initial orders from wholesalers, but how those wholesalers will in turn have to sell it on to their customers, the individual consumers, and everyone looks a bit lost. Natalie seeks clarification: is Luisa's plan to start off wholesale and then expand to consumers when the brand takes off? No. Luisa's plan is always wholesale. Jason interviews that it's a strange sense of déjà vu to be back on a branding task with Luisa, and that the general idea still seems a bit muddled, but he's sure it'll become clear as they go along. And that sense of indefatigable optimism is why Jason earned fan-favourite status this year. (Actually, it's probably for the best that we don't have a genuine fan favourite vote/prize on this show. I'm already shuddering to think at the people who might've won it in series past.) Luisa explains that it's everything to make a cake, bar a cake. "So, flour?" asks Natalie. No, not flour either. Well, this is going well. [As someone who bakes, I get the idea of what she is selling - I don't really get why she isn't going straight to customer though, nor does she explain where SHE will be getting stock from and how she will guarantee availability given the problems she identifies with existing wholesalers - Rad]

Meanwhile, Dr Leah is calmly explaining her business to her team: a chain of cosmetic clinics offering anti-aging treatments, a very professional and ethical service. To be honest I think there's a limit to how much you can describe any sort of cosmetic clinic as "ethical" since the entire industry is essentially reliant on convincing people that they're not good enough in their current form, but I guess within that, you can still be at the upper end of the ethical level and still be very careful about who you provide your services to, and I hope that's the point Dr Leah is making here. Myles says that his vanity will be an asset here. Hee. Dr Leah's idea for a brand is "'skin' backwards with the k the other way round and a face in the middle." I think there's a reason she became a doctor and not a branding consultant. She thinks it's very current and can be medical or high-street. She doesn't say MAJESTIC, but I'd imagine she's at least thinking it. [I just wish her business plan was to give people VOLUMINOUS hair transplants instead - Rad]

Luisa's team are also thinking of names. (Seriously? I'm slightly baffled that anyone would get to this part in the process and not already have at least the name of their business locked down.) Suggestions include Hello Baker!, Bake Me Happy, Sugar Coated and - wait for it - Master Bake. She's not serious with that final one, thankfully. At least, I hope she isn't. There's little support for any of these, anyway. Meanwhile, Alex has a suggestion for Dr Leah. PLEASE let it be "Popty Ping's Italian Injection Institute", accompanied by a little picture of Popty in a gondola. Italian, innit? Sadly, his actual suggestion is "Reflections", but Dr Leah is sold on NIKS and can't be moved.

11.30am now, and the teams must get on with the important business of market research, building a website and creating a brand. Luisa appears to have narrowed her choices down to Sugar Central (OH I I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE) and Baker's Toolkit. Zee's very much in favour of the latter, because he thinks it's self-explanatory. First, Luisa and her team visit a boutique bakery in Belgravia to speak to the owner, Peggy Portion. Well, if she's anything to go by, I guess you work out your baker name the same way you work out your porn name. (Editor's note: according to Google, her name is Peggy Porschen. But come on, say it out loud and then tell me how you think you'd spell it.) Luisa explains to Peggy about her business, and how there'll be an online stock checker, because the problem that Luisa has often had with her own baking business is that her suppliers are frequently out of stock. Seems logical, and Peggy's familiar with the problem. Luisa and Peggy have a good giggle about the impossibility of tracking down a Wilton 233 nozzle. I guess you had to be there. Nick interviews that Luisa isn't really making the most of the opportunity to question an expert, but that she's proving she has a thorough knowledge of the industry. Jason, concerned, pipes up that before they leave, perhaps Luisa would like to discuss numbers? Luisa clearly does not welcome the intrusion, and is all "I'M GOOD ON NUMBERS THANKS JASON, YOU CAN GO SHAVE YOUR BACK NOW."

Over in the Dr Leah car, Dr Leah is still enraptured at the prospect of "Niks Medical Group". Myles thinks she should at least have "clinic" or "cosmetic" in the name somewhere. Alex points out that Dr Leah doesn't do branding, and should listen to the people that do. After all, these are the creative bright sparks responsible for the unrivalled success that was Deadly Dinners. Anyway, Dr Leah tells them it's her brand, so fuck off. Or something to that general effect, anyway.

Both teams (or parts thereof, at least - Dr Leah has brought Alex and Myles as indicated above, while Luisa has brought Jason and Zee) head to creative agency Brave in south-west London. Dr Leah presents the various iterations of Niks, while Luisa wants her logo to be herself, "in cartoon form". Oh Luisa, you're already in cartoon form. Luisa wants pink for her colour scheme - a pastel pink, like Zee's socks. Allow me to just remind you that Luisa and Jason are once again working together in a design agency discussing colour schemes. If you want to get into the brace position, that might not be such a terrible idea.

While all that's going on, Neckbeard and Natalie are doing market research with baking tastemakers. Natalie asks them about colours, and whether pastel pink would appeal to them. One woman says no very firmly, and a man huffs prissily about it being too gender-specific. In the car on the way back, Neil phones Luisa - who's right in the middle of overseeing a very pink logo - to tell her that pink is a no-go, and she should go for something more unisex. Luisa purses her lips. Nick interviews that Luisa's brand is rather confusing: she's selling to trade, but the brand that she's creating is "something out of Bambi, or Barbie", so he doesn't think they've got a clear idea of who they're selling to. Meanwhile, upstairs, Dr Leah is getting her Clients From Hell on and micromanaging every aspect of the logo's creation. Karren interviews that Dr Leah has had very clear ideas the whole way through, and has been very calm and decisive, but the problem is her branding is rather corporate and bland. Dude, it's for a surgery clinic. Given the choice, I think I'd go for "bland and corporate" over Dr Leah's Zany Needle Emporium or whatever Karren seems to be recommending here. If someone is going to be injecting poison in my face, then I want them to be as humourless as possible. Alex and Myles declare the final design "boring". Dr Leah announces that she likes boring.

Next: websites. Luisa is concerned that hers is "blah". Still, it actually has some content on it, so it's already several iterations ahead of Friendship And Flowers. Luisa's starting to get a bit ratty and saying things like "can you just do it in the order that I've asked? I just want this, what I've asked for, done." I think Luisa is going to be very lucky if her homepage on launch day is anything other than a scrolling marquee saying "FUCK YOU, I QUIT" in a rainbow of colours. Jason interviews (with barely concealed glee) that this is very close to his last experience of building a website with Luisa, and she's just "bewildering". I guess he probably does feel a bit vindicated that Luisa's time management under her own terms doesn't appear to have been that much better than his. Still, at least she remembered to ignore the market research, which you're always supposed to do when you're making a website, right? Meanwhile, Dr Leah's website is finished, and she's very happy with it. I'm sure the editors are not trying to make ANY sort of point here about Luisa's professionalism vs Dr Leah's. Nosirree.

The teams make their way home, and Jason reiterates how important it is for everyone to band together and help Luisa win the task. Dr Leah, meanwhile, talks about how encouraged she feels that she's in her field now and knows the answers to all the questions. (Incidentally, I assume Uzma and Francesca were off doing market research throughout the day - why weren't we shown any of it?)

8am the next day, and both teams must now work on a promotional video to enhance their presentations. Alex stresses the importance of creating a product that's tasteful and professional. You know, just like the last video he and Dr Leah worked on together. Dr Leah is filming in a west London clinic, while Luisa is filming in a family home. Luisa is also working with child actors and pretending to be their mother. Both child actors look fairly apprehensive about this prospect. Smart kids. [Who would win in a fight between Apprentice advert fake mothers?  Luisa or random Sian Lloyd? - Rad]

Over on Dr Leah's set, Alex and Uzma are busy dressing it with props. Well, Alex is - Uzma mostly appears to be flicking through a magazine. Alex fills a vase with some pot pourri and sticks a strange two-headed plant...type...thing (I think he's been visiting the same supplier that provided Jordan with his big ticket item in the market trading task) in the background. Dr Leah arrives and instantly instructs him to get that shit off her table. Alex interprets this as Dr Leah "going on a rampage", and that she doesn't seem to have much confidence in the competence of the people around her. Yeah, can't imagine why she'd feel that way. Dr Leah proceeds to write, direct, stars in and produce her promotional video, while also making all the costumes, building the set from scratch and doing all the catering. She's not much of a delegator, unless you count the "where's that kid with my latte?" side of things.

Meanwhile, in the family kitchen that she's hired, Luisa prepares to shoot her advert, which begins with the line "like many of you, I'm a baker and a business owner", which makes me think of this. "I'm not a witch, I'm nothing like you've heard - I'm you!" (And now I want to see Kristen Wiig as Luisa.) Her ad seems to go well - she comes across naturally on camera, and the video is well-scripted. Nick interviews happily that despite Luisa's brusque beginnings in the process, she's working well with her team and they, in turn, are responding well to her.

What of Myles and Francesca, you might wonder? (Okay, you probably weren't wondering that at all, but work with me here.) They're in Holborn, getting some market research done. You know, the sort of market research that would've been really helpful to have before they visited the branding agency. The market research reveals that people highly value having skilled doctors (imagine that!) but that people don't like "Niks" as a name - mostly because, as one woman points out, it sounds a bit like what happens when you cut yourself shaving or impale yourself on a knife. Dr Leah is busy rehearsing her big piece-to-camera, in which she says "Niks" about a thousand times, when Francesca and Myles ring her to point out that she may want to rethink that in order to avoid sounding like a knife-wielding serial killer. Fortunately, Myles has already come up with a compromise - "N.i.k.s." (i.e. sounding out the letters individually), and Dr Leah is amendable to that. Karren interviews that Dr Leah loved the name Niks, but forgot to think about the implications and how it sounds like an accidental cut. Thank you, Karren, for repeating everything that happened in the last two minutes. We'd never have got through that without your assistance. Karren does point out some new information, however, which is that Dr Leah now has to reshoot everything she's already done in order to get the name change in. Geez, can't they fix that in post?

5pm, and everyone's back to the creative agency for a preview of the final cut of their videos. Luisa's team are thrilled with what they've come up with. "It made me really emotional!" squeals Natalie. All right, there's no need to go overboard. Zee thinks that Luisa's going to have the edge over Dr Leah in the likeability stakes because of her personality in the video. Luisa interviews that it's really "humbling" that everyone's working so hard for her, and it's inspiring her to want to win for them. Nothing to do with the £250,000 investment, you understand, she's all about her human capital now. Meanwhile, Dr Leah is being typically hands-on in the editing of her video and basically behaving like Luisa did with the website. It's interesting how different aspects of the task seem to bring out the same aspects of their personalities. Anyway, it's probably a good thing for Dr Leah that all of the syringes for the shoot have been returned to wherever they came from at this point, because I think if Alex, Uzma or the design guy had had access to any sort of weapon, she might not have got out of there alive.

11am the next day, and it's time to launch their businesses. Well, nearly. First, they must head to One Marylebone again to set everything up and fine-tune their presentations. Jason interviews that it's down to Luisa to win or lose everything at this point, because while the helper monkeys have done all they can, they're essentially just sorting the window-dressing at this point and everything else comes down to her pitch. Luisa and Natalie set about dressing the place up and making everything pink and "girly", and Luisa congratulates them all for being so on-brand. Zeeshaan, whose socks started all this, is a little taken aback when he sees just how pink everything else, but shrugs that it's Luisa's vision and not his place to interfere. Meanwhile, Dr Leah practices her presentation while Francesca directs with the full benefit of her Dance and Entertainment experience.

Backstage, Luisa is busy trying to get icing ready for her complementary cupcakes, and Nick interviews that this may not be the most productive use of her time. "Failing to prepare that presentation is preparing to fail!" booms Nick. Meanwhile, Jason has been roped into food preparation yet again. It really is a shame that Rebecca's not there - they could resurrect the dream team.

The evening arrives, and the venue starts to fill up with influential types from the worlds of wholesake baking and cosmetic medicine. Leah frets that she probably seems clinical a lot of the time, and says that she's keen to bring out the warmth of her personality. Just make sure you inflate your hair nice and big, Dr Leah. That'll win them over. Luisa says that she believes in her business plan, and she thinks her edge over Leah is her big personality. I think it's a surprise for many of us that we've now reached the stage where Luisa's personality is considered an asset, but I can see her point here: she might not be the best when it comes to teamwork, but she can be darned persuasive when she wants to be. Also, I can see Luisa's giggles and wiggles winning over an audience faster than Dr Leah's glare and hair. Although obviously these fine captains of industry won't be paying attention to superficial things like that. OBVIOUSLY. There's no sexism in business. What are you talking about? Why are all those women looking up at us so angrily through this glass floor?

The event begins, and Luisa's up first to pitch Baker's Toolkit. Her nerves are palpable, and she keeps stumbling over her words, but this is where she's right about her personality working out well for her - she grins and apologises, and it's hard to imagine anyone holding those minor fluffs against her. Her pitch is clear - I think possibly she overcomplicates it by mentioning home bakers when ultimately that's not where her business is aimed at, but I suppose she's just acknowledging that they might be the end consumers - and even the most uncharitable of spectators would have to admit that she obviously knows the industry and has spotted a gap in the market. She predicts a turnover of just under £1m in year one, growing to £3.2m in year three. Luisa then shows her video, which is simple but effective - again I can't help finding aspects of it slightly confusing, like the Baker's Toolkit branded cake tins which seem more like a product for marketing directly to consumers than to wholesalers, but her talk of visible stock level indicators and guaranteed delivery times go down well. At a pinch, I might've advised leaving out the scenes with the kids because it does make the whole thing seem a bit like an amateur operation; there's a bit of a disconnect between "wholesale supplier" and "family kitchen", but I guess Luisa's going for a "wholesome" vibe, and that makes a sort of sense.

It's question time! The first question is (surprise surprise) about the colour scheme, asking Luisa if she's not concerned about alienating a swathe of the market with all that pink. Luisa says that she knows the industry is dominated by females and she didn't want to shy away from that. She thinks the strength of the brand and quality of the products will be attractive to men. A man asks Luisa about turnover further ahead than three years, and Luisa attempts to answer before admitting that she hasn't forecast that far ahead and saying that she'd need to go away and work on the figures because any answer she gives here would be a lie. That's the best of a bad situation, I think: ideally she should probably have those numbers to hand, but since she hasn't, I think she's much safer to be honest than to just make something up on the spot. Having said that, she does say that she expects to turn over £5m in year five. Presumably Francesca wrote that bit for her when Dr Leah wasn't looking. Luisa leaves the stage, and bursts into tears because she thinks it went terribly. Well, at least we've got proof that she's human, right? Anyway, Neil and Natalie try to reassure her, saying that she was great, but Luisa is inconsolable.

Lordalan speaks to the experts in the break, and gets some positive feedback: they like the brand, they think she's timed it well with the current craze for all things baking-related, they think Luisa's vision was very clear. Their only real misgiving is that she needs to refine specifically who she's targeting with it, because they're not sure it works as a trade supplies brand.

Over to Team Dr Leah now, and Francesca is wearing a lycra two-piece, so this should be interesting. Myles does a voiceover welcoming everyone into the room, and...'Orinoco Flow' plays as Francesca does a ribbon dance. Hee. I guess it's customary every year for at least one presentation to shoehorn in some sort of tangential-at-best dancing element, and who else was going to do it? Once Francesca's finished, Dr Leah walks out, beaming from ear to ear. She really wasn't kidding about cranking up the warmth of her personality, was she? Her presentation is more poised than Luisa's, and Dr Leah is calm and clear throughout, going through the whole process bit-by-bit, and how she plans to roll out the franchise. She shows her video, which has a little bit of a Teleshopping-at-4am vibe to it, but again it's lucid and down-to-earth, and it seems like a persuasive bit of film. After the video is finished, Dr Leah reminds us that she's a doctor and says "clinical excellence" a few more times, and then it's time for questions.

The first question is from a doctor, who wants to know how Dr Leah plans to monitor the technicians that she will be hiring, because presumably people will be coming based on Dr Leah's own reputation. Dr Leah says it'll all be in the staffing. Someone else wants to know why she's only offering three types of treatments in an increasingly competitive market, and suggests that Dr Leah doesn't know the market as well as she thinks she does. Dr Leah replies that she feels she does know the market, and explains that she's only offering the treatments which have "a low side-effect profile" and the most clinical grounding. Or possibly grinding, it's hard to tell with Dr Leah's accent sometimes. Nadine Baggott stands up, shouts something about pentapeptides, everyone smiles politely and waits until she sits down again.

Dr Leah heads backstage, where she visibly flinches at the thought of the Q&A session she just endured. I suspect she realised "no, you're wrong, I'm right" wasn't the most diplomatic answer the second it escaped her mouth. Lordalan asks the assembled experts for their thoughts on Dr Leah's proposal, and the brand name isn't popular because it requires too much explanation. There's concern that it's a crowded market she's trying to enter and that she'll really have to establish herself very quickly. However, Dr Leah's business nous and presentation skills are praised.

Dr Leah and Luisa head back to the house (in separate cabs, tsk tsk carbon footprint) to await the final boardroom. Luisa interviews that she really believes in her product, but she feels like she let her brand and her team down with her presentation. Dr Leah thinks that her proposal is out of Lordalan's comfort zone, so it's going to come down to how comfortable he feels with her expertise in the area.

Everyone sits nervously in the anteroom until NotFrances sends them in. It's hard to see because everyone kind of flocks in as a bunch, but I hope Zee remembered to hold the door open for Natalie this time. Lordalan arrives and greets them all. Team Luisa is up for assessment first, and Luisa says that she feels like she got a really good team together. She does know the cameras were filming her when she was ringing round, right? She says that she was very keen to have Neckbeard on board, and adds that she really enjoyed working with Jason again, as it gave her a chance to redeem herself. Jason nods approvingly. Lordalan wants to talk about the name, and how it was Zee that came up with it. He cracks that Zee will have finally achieved his dream of being famous, as he'll "go down in history as the first man that Luisa's listened to." Everyone chuckles politely, because that's what you do when you are this close to £250,000.

Lordalan wants to know what happened with Peggy Portion next, and Luisa says that Peggy confirmed her theory that there's a problem with supply and demand in the industry. Nick asks if Luisa actually gave Peggy a chance to provide some input, or whether she just treated the whole thing as a chance to show off what she knows - which, he admits, is a considerable amount. Luisa says that Peggy was in agreement with a lot of what she said, so further discussion seemed unnecessary. Next, Lordalan wants to discuss the market research and how they all said they didn't like pink. "It obviously didn't get listened to," he chortles. Well no, because your take-home lesson four weeks ago was "don't listen to the market research", you wealthy goon. Stop sending out mixed messages. Lordalan says that some of the experts were confused about the branding and whether the focus is on the consumer or trade, and Luisa responds, slightly confusingly, that she's "always had the end user in mind" when doing this.

The subject turns to the presentation, and Luisa admits that it was not great, Bob, because she lost her way on her cue cards and basically ad libbed her way through after that. Lordalan assures her that he didn't notice that, and he thought she came across very well. Time for feedback on Luisa from her team members: Natalie gushes that Luisa has grown as a person and as a leader throughout the process, and she was taking on board people's opinions this time around. Jason is asked if he managed to work with Luisa successfully this time, and he points out - quite correctly - that the dynamics were very different this time because this was very much Luisa's project, but that meant that the boundaries were clearer and they "worked perfectly together". He adds that he was "very touched" when she called and asked for his help. I imagine he was slightly less touched when he actually saw this episode, but never mind, eh?

Over to Dr Leah, but before we get to Dr Leah herself, let's all talk about FRANCESCA'S RIBBON DANCE! No seriously, Lordalan wants to talk about the ribbon dance. Francesca says that Dr Leah asked her to do it. She doesn't mention that this request came at the end of two hours of unrelenting "can I do a dance, Dr Leah? Can I do a dance, Dr Leah? Can I do a dance, Dr Leah? Can I do a dance, Dr Leah?" Dr Leah says that her team were fantastic, she got her first four choices, and they were all exceptional. Again, Lordalan wants to talk about names, and Dr Leah explains that she came up with Niks Medical, the others came up with their own names, and then she just went with the idea that she had. Everyone giggles at this - proper laughter as well, not just "Lordalan told a joke" laughter. Speaking of Lordalan jokes, he follows this by saying that "Niks" sounds like "Mr Hewer's opened a wine bar." We now return to your standard "the rich man thinks he said something funny" laughter. Karren leaps in here to explain the whole "Niks"/"nicks" thing here, and Lordalan tries to make out like changing it to N-I-K-S rather than Niks is another example of Dr Leah just ignoring everyone else and doing what she wants, this point, all the branding had already been done. There was literally no time for her to go and rename the entire company, so what was she supposed to do? Myles steps in here, all "look, I see what you're trying to do here, but we fed this information back to Dr Leah and she responded the best way that she could in the circumstances". Dr Leah, bless her, attempts to defends "Niks" yet again as "a play on the irony that we're not cutting anything". Oh, Dr Leah. Know when to quit.

Lordalan says that the experts will want to stick with one person that they trust - Dr Leah, in other words - and Dr Leah says that she disagrees completely, because the undisputed leader of this sector is a brand, with no human face to it. Oh, the irony. Myles leaps in again, adding that because Dr Leah is only focusing on three treatments, this means you can realistically expect her staff to be trained to a very high standard in all of them. While I'm sure Dr Leah is perfectly capable of making all these points herself without needing to be rescued by Myles, I think it speaks well of her performance on this task that her team actually believe in her ideas and want to defend them. Anyway, Lordalan brings up that lady who saw the small scale of treatments as a negative, and Dr Leah reminds us that she totally disagrees with that lady. Lordalan points out that Dr Leah was disagreeing with the industry leaders throughout her presentation, which is not good. To reinforce his point, he explains that he has lots of old friends who have lots of surgery (apparently) and they all stick to one person that they trust. A fair point, but I would imagine these people have enough money to be able to visit fancy specialists and pay premium prices to be treated by that same person every time, whereas Dr Leah is targeting the person on the street who just wants the treatment done by a reputable brand at a reasonable price. Francesca interrupts here to say that Dr Leah's background in medicine provides that trustworthy face, and Lordalan says that this is the exact point he was trying to make: Luisa, for better or for worse, put her own face at the centre of her brand, which is what Dr Leah should've done. His favoured name for the business, therefore, is "Dr Leah". Dr Leah doesn't like that, and everyone laughs, because this is genuinely hilarious.

We're unlikely to get consensus on this any time soon, so Lordalan moves on to Dr Leah's skills as a manager and businesswoman in this final task. Francesca speaks up to reinforce what I noticed earlier: that Dr Leah got them all involved to such an extent that they felt personally invested in the brand. Myles says that because she was knowledgable about the product, she was very decisive and managed them all very well.

The returnees are dismissed with lots of hugs and kisses, leaving Dr Leah and Luisa. Lordalan asks them to step outside briefly while he has a final chat with Nick and Karren. Lordalan thinks that Dr Leah doesn't look like she wants to listen to advice, and while it's all very well being invested in your idea, sometimes you need to recognise when you're getting good counsel, NEIL CLOUGH. Karren says that after observing her closely, she thinks Dr Leah is a very bright young woman who knows what she's doing and can take "a gift that she has" and develop it into a business. Nick says "under Leah, I've got 'stubborn', and under Luisa, I've got 'less stubborn'." THANKS, NICK. Karren admits she was worried at one point if there was a businesswoman behind all the bluster with Luisa, but it's clear that she understands the business, that she has a viable proposition, and she's learnt from her mistakes.

NotFrances sends them back in. Lordalan wants them to begin by saying why they think he should invest in them. Luisa begins, saying that her business will be profitable, and that she has a lot of experience with starting and running businesses. Dr Leah thinks she's pitching a fantastic, unique and lucrative opportunity, and she thinks she's a dependable and trustworthy person to invest in. Lordalan notes that Dr Leah has built in an exit plan, and she says that she intends to sell nine clinics after year five for a value of approximately £8m, which she thinks is an extremely conservative estimate. Lordalan asks Luisa if she has a similar strategy, and Luisa says no, she wants to stay in this industry and become a market leader. [I wish she'd sassed him back about his gazillion other businesses and whether or not he'd have time for hers - Rad]

Lordalan wants to know what will happen to Luisa's three other businesses if he decides to invest in her. Luisa says that she has people who run her shop for her, so although she oversees it from an executive level, the day-to-day running is already taken care of. Lordalan is not keen on this, because he's a clingy sort who wants you all to himself. Lordalan reminds Luisa that her headstrong attitude has not always been a good thing, and wonders if her business partner will have as much say in her business as she does. Luisa says that she believed she was better than all the others and wasn't shy about saying so, but she's learned a lot in the process, specifically that it's fine just to shut up and listen sometimes.

Next up: the DANGER ZONE. Lordalan says that cupcakes is a low-risk strategy for him, because at worst he's just going to make people fat, whereas botox and fillers could quite feasibly lead to the Daily Mail printing that he's going to make the whole country die of cancer, so while he has no fears about Dr Leah's morals and her abilities, he's concerned that he'll make himself a target by taking on such a controversial proposal. Dr Leah admits that he's completely right to be concerned, and that she wouldn't advise him to go into this business with anyone else besides her. Heh. She also hits back where it counts: baking supplies have comparatively low margins against to cosmetic treatments, so she'll make more money and faster.

Nick speaks up next, voicing his concern that Dr Leah was saying "no" a lot in the previous boardroom. Won't that make her hard to work with? Dr Leah says that she's normally very compliant, and she "barely spoke until about task six" (really? They're still trying to convince us that that's an actual thing that happened?), but she feels she has expertise on this matter and she wants it done right.

The end-of-boardroom music starts playing, so we know a decision is imminent. Lordalan trusts Dr Leah's expertise and morals, but he's got a hard choice here, because Luisa's business is lower-risk and more in line with what he knows. He knows that Luisa is a businessperson, and he believes that she has softened a bit throughout the process, but he's concerned that he won't have her undivided attention because she has other businesses. It all comes down to where he is now - at the age of 66, does he want to take more risks, or does he just want a quiet life?

Well, on balance...screw the idea of a peaceful retirement, because DR LEAH WINS! Dr Leah is thrilled, while Luisa smiles sadly. Lordalan wishes Luisa the very best of luck, and Dr Leah heads out gleefully to the victory car, where she says how amazing it is that Lordalan is showing all this faith in her even though she has less business experience than everyone else. She's going to do everything she can to prove that he's made the right decision.

And there we have it! It wasn't the most gripping of final tasks, but it was a solid end to the best series this show has produced in three or four years, I'd say. It helped enormously that I really liked both candidates in the final two and would've been happy with either one winning, and the only other series I've been able to say that about was series six.

Notable moments from You're Hired! include: Luisa being forced to apologise at length to Jason for usurping him as project manager, to the point where it all got rather uncomfortable; further reminders that everyone loves Neil Clough; Dr Leah is going to call her business "Dr Leah" after all; attempts were made to convince Jordan that he isn't a terrible human being and we all still love him really; everyone got a bit Daily Mail with Dr Leah and made her promise that she didn't just waste all of our money training with the NHS just to flit off into the private sector and make a ton of cash.

That's it. Thanks for being with us again this year - I hope you enjoyed the show, and I hope you enjoyed the recaps. All being well, we'll be back next year for series ten. Until then: you're fired! Just kidding. But seriously: go home. We need to lock up the office, and we can't afford to pay the receptionist overtime.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another great commentary round of The Apprentice. See you next year!