A lot of Apprentice tasks require a considerable degree of creativity. It has always been thus for as long as I have been watching, and the past two weeks of series eight have both put it at the heart of the tasks. I expect many more like this, because this series, like the last, is about finding a candidate with whom Lord Sugar can go into a business partnership.

Tom, Helen, Jim �

Starting a new business, especially for a self-confessed �products man� like Lord Sugar, means finding a new idea to pitch to the market. That�s why creative star Tom Pellereau won last year and delivery star Helen Milligan lost out. As for gift-of-the-gab Jim Eastwood (now a professional speaker in his natural milieu): without a good product, no amount of sales talent, presentation style, nor persuasion skills can build a sustainable business.

� and Susan

And what of last year�s fourth finalist, Susan Ma. Susan had a strong business idea and was good on implementation too. Her performance was just not quite as good as Tom�s or Helen�s in their respective domains. But it was very strong, showing moments of brilliance and, in the real world of business, it isn�t about a single winner and everyone else loses. The market is a complex system with many winners. Was there not a place for Susan?

Yes. Lord Sugar clearly has recognised Susan Ma�s talents. Look at his register of interests at The House of Lords. Lord Sugar is a director of Tropic Skin Care Limited; Susan�s business.

Creativity will be Vital

So, the ability to create great business ideas and evaluate them rigorously will be a vital skill for this year�s candidates. On those criteria, I would assess the first two episodes to have shown us three failures and one partial success (Sterling�s nicely branded and well-targeted toddler tee shirts in episode 1).

The Apprentice series 8 Episode 01: Sterling's Tee Shirt Design (c) BBC

So, the questions are these:

  1. How can a project manager get the best from her or his team at the creative ideas stage?
  2. How can they create the most rigorous evaluation of those ideas, before making a decision that determine the fates of one or more team members?

I will answer these two questions over the next two weeks, on 10 April for the first and 17 April for the second.

What about the Candidates� own, Real-World, Businesses?

Let�s take a brief look at the businesses and ideas that the candidates have started in the real world. We don�t know what has gone on in the background and how they have developed those businesses with partners and colleagues, but they can at least offer us some slim clues � perhaps only cues � as to the creativity the candidates might offer.

Bilyana Apostolov (Fired in Episode 1)

Employed in financial services industry.
Creativity Quotient: Low/Unproven

Gabrielle Omar

Gabrielle has fingers in two architectural practices (one of which is specialised), a creative print and design business due to launch on 8 April, an in-flight beauty business (that is not trading) and the branding of a business called Daily Dose Ltd, which does not yet appear to be on the web.� A lit of ideas then, mostly familiar, but some execution to be proven.
Creativity Quotient: Medium

Jade Nash

Jade is employed in direct marketing.
Creativity Quotient: Low/Unproven

Jane McEvoy

Describes herself as �Co-founder of Food Manufacturing Company� but I can find no reference to it on the web yet � so cannot assess how creative it is.
Creativity Quotient: Unproven

Jenna Whittingham

Runs her own salon, Beauty and the Boutique.� A common enough business model, I feel.
Creativity Quotient: Low

Katie Wright

Katie is employed as an editorial and research director.
Creativity Quotient: Low/Unproven

Laura Hogg

Owns and runs Laura Reece Bridal � a pretty standard retail model.
Creativity Quotient: Low

Maria O�Connor (Fired in Episode 2)

Owns and runs Greek restaurant Elizavet.
Creativity Quotient: Low

Adam Corbally

Runs Adam Corbally’s Fruit and Vegetable Wholesaler � a fruit and veg stall at a market.� A vital commodity service business (couldn�t do without ours � his produce is excellent) but not high on the creativity stakes.
Creativity Quotient: Low

Azhar Siddique

Describes himself as �Founder and Managing Director of Catering and Refrigeration Company� but I can find no reference to it on the web yet � so cannot assess how creative it is.
Creativity Quotient: Unproven

Duane Bryan

Duane has two businesses in the alcoholic beverages industry: Bryan & Bell creates mixed drinks and then brands them for their commercial clients, and DrinksDesigner.com allows consumers to design and brand your own drink and receive it bottled.� The idea seemed pretty novel to me and he has taken it in two directions under suitable brands.
Creativity Quotient: Medium to High

Michael Copp

Describes himself as �MD Kitchen and Bedroom Furniture Retailer�.� Can�t find it on the web so don�t know if it is his own business and if it is, how innovative it is.
Creativity Quotient: Low/Unproven

Nick Holzherr

Interesting simple marketing/web-based business, qrky, making business cards that incorporate QR codes and allowing corporates to set up a whole database of contacts that incorporate them.� This seems to me a new use of modern technology in quite an elegant format.
Creativity Quotient: Medium to High

Ricky Martin

Ricky is employed in recruitment � although he moonlights as a wrestler, we understand.
Creativity Quotient: Low/Unproven

Stephen Brady

Stephen is employed as a Sales Manager.
Creativity Quotient: Low/Unproven

Tom Gearing

Tom is one of a number of directors in a fine wine investment business.� He did not form the business.
Creativity Quotient: Unproven

Conclusion

All we can look for in this assessment of the candidates.� If I am right that creativity counts disproportionately in this series, then, all other things being equal (which they won�t be), the candidates to watch are:

  1. Nick and Duane
  2. Gabrielle

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