Warning: spoilers ahead
It’s interviews week and the candidates’ business plans are about to go through a four-stage shredding process: namely Mike, Claudine, Linda and Claude.
Cue the montage of the Final Four going over their business plans. Brittany reads through the plan for her high protein alcoholic drink business idea. “I’ve never written a business plan in my life.” Oh no.
At 6am the next day, Brittany run into one of the bedrooms and leaps on Kathryn, excited about the day ahead. But the advisors’ job is to tear through all of the shortcomings and inconsistencies of the business plans, and I’m not sure if she’s expecting any potholes.
Lord Sugar seems chipper as he greets the candidates: “If you’ve got any skeletons, this lot will find them. Oh, just one more thing. Claude is back” he rounds off with a massive grin.
Here’s how each of the Final Four got on during the interviews process.
“Can you tell me what design experience you have?” Linda starts. Despite saying so in her business plan, it’s revealed Kathryn didn’t design the pyjama prints. Just then, Linda pulls out an identical set she’d found from another retailer.
In her second interview, Kathryn is uncomfortably smiley, her ivories a shield against the battalion. Claudine challenges her on the ethics and the sustainability of importing manufactured clothes from China, thousands of miles away. “I can’t answer that,” Kathryn admits.
Her business sells matching pyjamas for the whole family, including the dog. The company will have designs for summer and winter collections. “That’s a hell of a lot of stock,” scoffs Claude, who has concerns about the costs. “More designs, more headaches.” He says her profit and loss forecast is impossible: “This is the rantings of a lunatic.”
Mike discovers that Kathryn hasn’t bought the domain name for her online pyjama shop, myeverydaypyjamas.co.uk. In fact, someone else has bought it: him. He’s also bought the .com, .net and .uk variations to eliminate any chance of competition. “You’re looking for a £250,000 investment in a website you don’t own,” he says. Though he does gift her the web addresses.
>See also: Different domain endings – do you need to buy them all?
Mike pushes Brittany to reveal that she’s only ever made her alcoholic protein drink at home. Fortunately, he’s had someone make up a batch based on the formula in the business plan. He pours a glass for himself and Brittany, insisting she goes first. “Do you like the taste?” he asks the nervous candidate. “I like the taste,” she replies, lacking some certainty. “I think it’s chalky and quite bitter” Mike says. “To have high protein, some people may not mind that the taste isn’t bad enough not to purchase,” she attempts.
Mike presents Brittany with one of his business plans and compares it to hers. “Can you spot the difference in business plans?” he challenges. “I can spot it straight away,” she replies, dejected. She starts getting teary. Mike reassures her that she’s done really well in the process and hands her a tissue.
>See also: Example business plans
Linda points out that Brittany has no experience in supplements or alcohol. “I buy clothes, but it doesn’t make me a dressmaker,” she says. She also unveils that a product like hers was already around in the US and was created in 2008. “I haven’t heard of it ‘cos it ain’t a hit” she says.
Claude is “mystified” by Brittany’s business plan. It doesn’t include key elements such as a profit and loss forecast. The drink manufacturing costs aren’t in it, either. “Unless it’s made in your bath, someone’s going to have to manufacture it,” he says. It gets worse: “This is not a business plan – interview terminated.” Ouch.
“You don’t come across as someone I would want to work with,” says Claudine, who is evidently the gentlest of the advisors. She points out off-putting statements in Harpreet’s business plan, with hot takes such as “No emotions before 7pm”.
Claude pulls her up on the fact that she co-owns the dessert parlour with her sister, which the audience haven’t been aware of up until this point. “It’s a lie,” Claude protests. “[Lord Sugar] has met you, he hasn’t met your sister. One of you is superfluous.”
“Why has your growth been so pedestrian?” asks Mike. Her plan is to open one more store per year. “You’re making it up as you go along,” he says, getting increasingly impatient.
Linda challenges her on what her unique selling point (USP) is. “Have you got a USP?” “The USP is me!” she chimes back. It’s becoming increasingly clear that customers like to know a business owner’s story, but it’s not a USP. Find out if your USP stacks up at Three tests to measure the strength of your USP.
The edge Stephanie’s second-hand clothing brand has over eBay is authentication, so Mike tests her with a designer children’s t-shirt. She says that it’s a fake and she gets it wrong. She admits the authentication would be outsourced but Mike looks into the company she wants to work with and discovers it only authenticates handbags and shoes.
Linda reveals to the audience that although Stephanie’s business is new, she’s only sold 50 garments. Coupled with no fashion experience, it’s quite a worry. Linda insists luxury second-hand children’s clothing is an exclusive small market, but Stephanie disagrees, saying it has a broader appeal. “Thinking, hoping – it’s a pipe dream with no substance,” Linda says.
There’s a touching scene between Claudine and Stephanie, with the advisor telling her how much more personable she is when she lets her guard down. Stephanie reflects that she perhaps could have let her guard down more throughout the series.
Claude opens with a somewhat more sobering statement: “Stephanie, you’re going to have an uncomfortable time with me.” With £160,000 in marketing, website enhancement and authentication costs, he’s concerned that she’ll blow Lord Sugar’s investment before she’s even made a sale. “It’s not conservative, thoughtful or careful” he says.
“I’ll never fear an interview ever again,” sighs Stephanie at the end of a tough day.
The advisors come to the boardroom to meet with Lord Sugar, Tim and Karren to discuss the interview highlights. The Greatest Hits include Brittany’s ‘glorified brochure’, Kathryn’s ambitious profit forecast, Harpreet’s co-owner revelation and Stephanie’s start-up costing.
As in the interviews, the candidates are addressed one by one.
Kathryn: Lord Sugar says she will lose his whole investment in two years. “China is off the agenda”, he declares, as she won’t be able to react quickly to fluctuating stock.
Stephanie: He questions who she’s using for authentication and disagrees that you can analyse garments through photos. He also comments on her crazy sales projections.
Harpreet: She wants to scale up beyond the cafe and kiosk she has at the moment, assuring Lord Sugar that her sister would be prepared to step down from the business (whether the sister knows this is another matter).
Brittany: Lord Sugar advises Brittany to start where she has some experience. He points out once again that there’s no pricing for manufacturing in her business plan.
Lord Sugar tells Brittany that she still backs her own ideas, even when they’re bad. “Good luck, rethink this” he reassures her as she leaves the boardroom.
Stephanie underestimated the complexity of her chosen business, according to Lord Sugar. There’ a moment of trickery when he asks if Harpreet’s dessert business will be Sugar-free or not. But he turns to Stephanie and fires her. Tricksy.
So, it’s Harpreet and Kathryn in the final two.
Watch the whole episode on BBC iPlayer.
Next week: Final
Kathryn and Harpreet will have three days to launch a company. They must create the branding, a digital billboard and TV advert and pitch it to Sugar himself. The fired candidates from this series will of course be on hand to help out the finalists. Join us as we find the winner of The Apprentice 2022.
Catch up on the rest of the series
The Apprentice: Hardly a cruise for the candidates – series 16 episode 1 review
The Apprentice: Oops, they did it again – S16, ep 2
The Apprentice: Shaken and stirred with plenty of zingers – S16, ep 3
The Apprentice: For goodness’ hake – S16, ep 4
The Apprentice: Gaming, blaming, shaming – S16 ep 5
The Apprentice: Ask and you shall be ripped off – S16, ep 6
The Apprentice: No peas in these pods – S16 ep 7
The Apprentice: High-speed hijinks – S16 ep 8
The Apprentice: Can we say it was life-changing? S16 ep 9