The Apprentice Series 11: Episode 5 – My view | Lauren Riley

The challenge to write a children’s book is not as easy as it seems.  What with a mix of ego’s, bickering, lack of decision making and those who literally can’t sell, bring together another childish chapter in the lives of 14 apprentices in Lord Sugar’s Game of Moans.

childrens-booksSo the weeks of trying to learn everyone’s names while it looks like there are dozens of them running about are behind us, 14 candidates remaining at start of this week. I was thinking we might get a double firing. Not this week so the next two episodes I would say.

The ominous phone call comes, candidates to be at St James Square with 30 mins to get ready. That annoyed me as when I was on it, we only got 20 mins, one likes to looks ones best when there are up to 10 million people watching you. Elle questioning whether it was worth getting out of bed for, a funny moment but not the motivated start you would look for in your next business partner perhaps.

The briefing took place at the historic literary institution the London library. The task was to design and produce Children’s books for 3-5 year old and an accompanying audio book. This task looked such a lot of fun and I wished we had something like this. The nearest we got last year was a board game but that required so much in terms of logistics it just wasn’t fun.

Sam was pretty much told to be the project manager for Connexus and he embraced it. He did use the line “A story dies without a good plot” potentially true but not with 3-5 year olds. No literary genius required!

Team Versatile was headed up by Charleine.  Her rationale was that she’s a mum, not a bad theory I suppose. It sounds a bit simplistic but if you break that down to being able to understand the end user of your product (the children) and the decision makers (the parents) it makes sense. We learnt that April had a Degree in creative writing, perhaps should have had her hat in the ring for PM. Although we know all too well we don’t see all of it. I put myself forward as PM four times last year and they only showed one. You’ve probably detected that I am always slightly reserved to criticise people. That’s because I know you don’t always see the whole picture.

The thing that annoyed me most about this task was the brief market research. Don’t ask leading questions or people will just agree, ask open questions and listen. You need their genuine feedback to make a decision, not for them nod along with an idea you planted. That will not get you anywhere. This task was to have a saleable product after all.

Some decent tactics from Charleine I thought, Richard can make life difficult for his team mates and is not the best for moral. Her problem was when she let that logic and past problems get in the way of an obvious decision. Pitching to corporate requires seasoned pitchers. I do understand the pressure of putting yourself in that line up for fear of looking weak but good management is about recognising the strengths of your team and using them. Their pitches weren’t great and secured just 25 orders. Charliene’s last minute 100 book sale saved the day.

Sam seemed almost too intellectual, taking the concept down to the level of 5 year olds he struggled with. Not a bad thing for the real world. Timing slipping, that’s the hardest thing when making a TV show too, the production things really get in the way that ramps up the pressure.

A first was achieved to my knowledge, one team sold to a focus group. That’s genius, I’ve never heard of that before. Outside the box thinking, always good.

I tweet along with the show and it wasn’t great to see #moisturerife floating about Twitter.  One pitch got a tweet from me, they offered more books for a higher price and less for cheaper, that should be the other way round surely. No one picked up on that in the show, think there was enough to go at elsewhere. Scott impressed tonight, he proved his sales ability where other failed. Natalie’s sales tactics weren’t great and ultimately it cost her.

The results Sam’s team made over £100 less in sales and lost.

It looked for a moment like a double firing but it was only Natalie shown the door. I am glad Sam stayed I like him but he’s been warned by LS to show more business acumen. Sam even apologised afterwards to Natalie, such a gent. Natalie left in true Apprentice style, sticking the knife into fellow candidate saying “Brett isn’t very intelligent and doesn’t know anything about business”. Meow!

Now 13 left its hotting up. Roll on next week!

About the author

Best known for her appearance on The Apprentice, solicitor Lauren Riley embodies the spirit of today’s modern professional woman, proving leadership and glamour can come hand in hand.   After graduating with an Honours Degree in Law from Lancaster University in 2006, Lauren concluded her Post-Graduate Diploma in Law with Distinction. Entrepreneur Lauren Riley is the proud founder and director of technology development company The Link App.   Find out more here

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