Restaurateur Sophie Lau, 22, from Bristol became the third candidate to leave The Apprentice Series 9 after she was fired by Lord Sugar in Episode 3. Sophie fell flat in this week’s Flat-Pack furniture task and she became the third casualty from Team Evolve, who have yet to win a task.
Sophie seemed tailor made for the task, having described herself as “Innovative and intelligent. My greatest strengths are creativity and the ability to ‘think outside the box’“. It was Sophie’s failure to think inside the flat-packed furniture box which cost her the task.
At the start of the task the teams were summoned to the Design Council in Islington, where they were challenged to come up with an original piece of flat-pack furniture. They had two days to design , produce prototypes of their ideas and pitch the new furniture concepts to retailers, with appointments already made by Lord Sugar with some of the country’s biggest retailers.
Natalie Panayi put her self forward as project manager for Evolve with Jason Leech volunteering for Eneavour with the team line-ups otherwise unchanged from last week.
- Natalie Panayi (Project Manager)
- Francesca MacDuff-Varley
- Leah Totton
- Luisa Zissman
- Rebecca Slater
- Sophie Lau
- Uzma Yakoob
- Jordan Poulton (Project Manager)
- Jason Leech
- Kurt Wilson
- Alex Mills
- Myles Mordaunt
- Neil Clough
- Zeeshaan Shah
Evolve came up with a multi-functional cube shaped table, Tidy Sidie. There was a lot of talking but not a lot of listening during the brainstorm. Half the team went off to the designers whilst the rest of the team went to research the concept with customers. The design team really struggled to get the concept so that everyone was happy with it. They ended up with what looked like a box on wheels, which could be used for storage, as a table and as a seat.
Endeavour came up with Foldo, a folding table come chair, with Alex Mills making a big input to the design. The research showed that consumers were a little confused about the idea of a dual function but it seemed to work reasonable well. There was some debate about whether the chair should be padded, with Jason very strongly of the opinion that it shouldn’t be.
The girls had a knock back from a retailer who felt the design styling just was not good enough. Luisa did the Argos pitch and did a very capable presentation, despite the buyer describing it as a box on wheels. Rebecca did the John Lewis presentation.
The boys hit the streets to sell to high street retailers who felt the Foldo seat was a little too high. Neil did the pitch to Argos, which included a demonstration of how to assemble. Myles did the John Lewis presentation and appeared a little unprepared and didn’t think fast on his feet.
When the teams assembled in the boardroom to hear the results it was not good news for Evolve. The trade team sold 174 units but there were no sales to John Lewis or Argos as they didn’t like the product design.
They were trounced by Endeavour who sold 216 units to the trade team, 500 to John Lewis and 2,500 to Argos.
So credit to Endeavour and to Alex Mills’ idea. The boys went off to climb the O2 arena to celebrate!
The girls went off to analyse their failure. It was pretty clear that it was a very weak product design which was at the heart of the loss on this task. Lord Sugar called it a “wishy-washy poxy-boxy“.
Natalie Panayi decided to bring Sophie Lau, and Uzma Yakoob back into the boardroom.
Uzma was vulnerable as she had been heavily involved in the product design, an area which she claims as her strength. Natalie tackled this issue very forcefully with Uzma, with her voice rising an octave as she argued.
Sophie Lau was criticised by Natalie for the market research and for staying safe by hiding in the project.
After some deliberation Lord Sugar fired Sophie Lau. It was a bit of a random decision as Sophie didn’t actually do a lot, right or wrong, in this task. The way the series has been edited she does appear to be a passenger and that’s why Lord Sugar fired her. She just did not show him enough of what she could do.
So we have thirteen candidates left. In Episode 4, which screens on Wednesday 22 May at 9pm on BBC One, the candidates set up a farm shop.