Leah Totton won The Apprentice 2013 as she beat Luisa Zissman to Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment. It will be a chain of cosmetic outlets for Lord Sugar as he decided that Leah was worth the risk.
So how did it all happen?
It was head to head on the final task with Leah v Luisa or Botox v Baking as it has been billed. As usual, former Apprentice candidates were invited back to support the two finalists. First Leah and Luisa were invited to 1 Marylebone to be told that they had the opportunity to win Lord Sugar’s investment by launching their business to an audience of industry experts as a whole profile event. Each of them had to be ready to present the brand, website and launch campaign.
The two finalists had to build their team from the former candidates and Leah seemed to be a bit quicker on the telephone and secured the team she wanted.
Team Leah Totton
Luisa felt she had missed out on the stronger candidates but that she would make the best of it.
Team Luisa Zissman
The teams brainstormed the brand. Leah seemed pretty taken with the name NIKS (Skin backwards) and didn’t really want to listen to any of the other ideas.
Luisa wanted a brand that had mileage and was keen on Bakers Toolbox.
The teams went off to research the branding. Luisa decided she should be the face of her brand (no surprise there then) and wanted girly pink. The research feedback was a bit more Unisex so pink wasn’t the ideal colour. It was fun to see Luisa under pressure on her website design as Jason watched on in a relaxed manner.
When Leah researched the brand NIKS it was clear that she was clear exactly what she wanted. It was a bit corporate and medical and boring. “I like boring” said Leah.
Next on the agenda was the production of promotional videos.
Leah looked a bit stressed during the video production and became a bit dictatorial ( well a lot dictatorial actually) but at least she was clear and decisive. It did stifle the input from the others though. Meanwhile the research on the name NIKS was not positive: “it sounds like you’ve been cut with a knife”. Myles suggested it was pronounced as an abbreviation N-I-K-S.
Meanwhile Luisa was very pleased with her own prom video featuring herself in a bakers toolkit apron as she explained the concept behind her baking supplies wholesale offer. “Baking is a piece of cake” shouted her promotional material.
Then it was time for the big presentations. There were the last minute preparations and a last chance for the finalists to practice their presentations. In Luisa’s case she decided icing cakes was more important than practicing and refining her presentation. She was clearly hoping that her big personality would come over better than Leah’s.
First up was Luisa, presenting Bakers Toolkit. She stumbled a little over her words to start with (lack of practice maybe?) but it was unsurprising given the pressure. Luisa’s year 1 sales target for the business was just under £1 million whilst this grew to £3.2million in year 3. When questioned she was queried on whether the pink branding would alienate male cooks. She struggled when asked for longer term (5-year) sales forecasts.
The expert feedback was positive on the brand but the positioning needed work as the website was too retail and not trade orientated.
Next up was Leah, introduced by a dancing Francesca. Leah came across as a more serious and credible presenter. She was going to target 3 geographic areas, rolling out a new branch every 4 months as Leah trained the staff. When questioned (by expert doctors) the key concern was on staff training. One questioner felt that the range of treatments was too limited for the sophisticated audience but Leah said she had chosen the lower risk treatments.
Feedback was that the NIKS brand was a bit cumbersome but a strong business proposition.
Next day it was back to the boardroom.
Luisa was positive about the team’s contribution. Lord Sugar picked up on the lack of response to the focus group feedback that the branding should be gender neutral rather than heavily female orientated. Also that the trade focus was a little lacking in the brand.
Leah was again positive about the team contribution. Lord Sugar had received feedback that three treatments were too small a range, which Leah disagreed with. Also Lord Sugar felt there was more loyalty to an individual than a brand and the business should be called Dr Leah.
Lord Sugar thanked the returning candidates and then they left the boardroom for the final decision to be made.
As Lord Sugar talked through the two candidates he expressed concern that Leah may not listen but Karren thought she was very bright. Nick felt that Leah was stubborn and that Luisa was less stubborn. Not much to choose between them on stubbornness then.
There were two very credible business plans in front of Lord Sugar and he had to make the final decision. He questioned them both about exit strategy for the business and he queried Luisa on how she could manage her existing businesses.
It was the moment we were waiting for as Lord Sugar said “Leah, you’re hired”. Lord Sugar’s search is over and the winner of The Apprentice 2013 is Leah Totton. All credit to Lord Sugar for taking the risk in an area that is not a safe one for brands. Mind you the profit margins should reflect the risk he is taking.
It’s all over for this year. I really enjoyed the series and the investment format has really given it a shot in the arm. See you next year!