Apprentice 2011: Bulldog's Simon Duffy reviews episode five

When you pack so many different elements into such a busy task you will always see mistakes, and this episode was jam packed with questionable logic and poor decisions.

Satisfyingly for many will be the departure of the egotistical Vincent. He was the architect of his own downfall in this episode. As the dust settles and Vincent thinks back ruefully on what could have been with Jim, I'm sure he'll realise two key decisions scuppered his challenge.

What surprised me with both teams is that they rushed head-long into brainstorming advertising slogans and communication ideas - a classic case of putting the cart before the horse.

What they both needed was an idea rooted in strategy. They didn't necessarily need to reinvent the wheel, but it was vital to start by identifying gaps in the market and trying to understand what pet owners are looking for in their products.

Marketeers call these 'unmet needs'. In practice these are hard to find and companies such as Mars who featured on the expert jury will spend literally millions of pounds and team hours on their own innovation programs. Even then we're told that something like 9 in 10 new products fail.

I believe that if you don't start with a unique idea then the odds of failure are going to be even greater. When you compete with these massive companies, it is absolutely vital to bring a different idea to the table. A challenger brand needs to challenge.

Vincent's fist error was to centre his product on the 'every' idea. Lord Sugar was clearly looking for something unique, or at least to see a team focused on identifying a niche then creating a product to fill it. By trying to appeal to everyone, Vincent ended up with a product that appeals to no one.

My own beloved dog Bruno, a pint-sized Brussels Griffon who believes he is a Bulldog, would not know what to do with the Golden Retriever sized dog food chunks we saw.

Vincent's second whopper was his boardroom strategy, and it's hard to decipher what he was thinking.

Did he really believe Jim would overpower him the boardroom or was he too loved-up by that point to even consider nominating his new best friend?

Perhaps he simply thought Lord Sugar shared his chauvinist slant on business talent and by bringing in two ladies he was minimising his chances of being shown the door? Whatever it was, his tactics stank.

Lord Sugar had already pinpointed the core idea as the weakest element and Jim was doing a great job of winding up the boss with his spineless blame-spreading antics.

As for Ellie, perhaps she was a little unlucky to also get the boot. She didn't do much this time and had underwhelmed previously. In a few weeks we'll remember week five for the dog's dinner that was Vincent's effort. I'm not sure we'll remember Ellie at all.

 

Simon Duffy is the co-founder of Bulldog, the UK's leading natural skincare range for men. Visit the Bulldog website here: www.meetthebulldog.com or follow them on Twitter @bulldognatural

You can also watch a video interview with Simon on how he set up Bulldog, by clicking here.

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