Episode 1

Blank canvas

The opening task of this year’s Apprentice literally started with a blank canvas as the two teams – boys versus girls – were asked to design and manufacture their own custom-print products and sell them to an unsuspecting public. (Or as unsuspecting as the public can be when greeted by eight business-suited people being followed around by a camera crew.)

The girls focussed on the creative rather than the commercial aspects of the task. Jade sketched stylish child-targeted animal designs, but project manager Gabrielle failed to provide clear direction around volumes and costings. By comparison, Nick adopted a margin and price-led approach, leaving design as a last-minute afterthought. And it showed, as the boys trotted out clichéd images of Union Jack teddy bears and London phone boxes, buses and taxis.

The girls turned out beautifully produced and professional-looking products, while the boys’ looked like something produced by nursery children. So, of course, the boys won in spite of their failings as they accumulated nearly three times as much profit as the girls.

The girls were let down by in-fighting and a haphazard approach to sales, which at one stage involved badgering a shop assistant by talking to her simultaneously in increasingly loud and shrill voices until she was on the verge of tears. Fittingly, it was Bilyana who was fired after talking herself into trouble in the boardroom. She claimed that “whatever I get my hands on, I have an impact”. Sadly the same can be said of nitroglycerine, which has a similarly destructive impact, and she became the first casualty of the boardroom.

In the press:
  • Tom Gearing consistently speaks up with common sense in a non-threatening manner. He is one of my favourites.
    Claire Young
    26th Apr 2012
  • Entrepreneur, wine connoisseur, heartthrob and TV star. The traits of Tom Gearing make the 23-year-old sound more James Bond than Apprentice...
    27th Jun 2012
  • Tom was in control and implemented a risky strategy of quality and desirability of product over quantity. This proved to be a winning strategy and his experience shone through...Tom understood the task and remained confident with the risks he took. Demonstrating drive and determinism as well as competitiveness and knowledge
    Phil Sheridan
    The Telegraph
    12th Apr 2012
  • What an enigmatic bloke! He is very quietly spoken with remarkable composure, which means that when he does talk people listen to him. And he is bright, a strategist, thoughtful.
    Nick Hewer
    The Radio Times
    19th May 2012
  • Tom shot to stardom for being the best dressed man on television (pretty much single handedly bringing back the tie clip in the process), but more poignantly for showing business wisdom and entrepreneurial nous way beyond his years.
    Christopher Warren-Gash
    16th Jul 2012
  • Is this man, Tom Gearing really a candidate? He belongs on the pages of omg! He's got that sultry stare perfected already.
    OMG from Yahoo!
    13th Mar 2012

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