OTB Meets Ricky Martin (..Off The Apprentice)

After seeing off his rivals and bagging £250,000 for a recruitment business, Ricky Martin was full of chat..

“As much as people say you’re gonna do really well with the business, no business is guaranteed success, no company at all is guaranteed anything, and it takes a lot of work to get that success, so I think I’m going to work 12 hour days, 7 days a week for a long period of time, to get it to work, to get it working well. If I’ve got some time off I’d like to spend it with my wife, and with my family.â€?

12/7. Not quite as catchy as it’s full-time partner, but those hours don’t sound very fun. What did Ricky find fun during his time on The Apprentice?

“The affordable luxury task. I put myself forward for Project Manager after being Project Manager twice and losing twice, and we won the task, and LS congratulated us and welcomed us to the final. I’d been PM twice and although I’d lost I felt I’d done a really good job, and I’d done on my side everything really well, but I thought I was let down by other members of the team in certain parts of those tasks, so it was nice to have that task and show Lord Sugar look, I can lead people and get results.

I wasn’t gonna let Tom become PM. I had to win it, I wasn’t even going to let Tom try and compete with me to take that place. I think Lord Sugar must of seen the talent in me. He saw a little sparkle in my eye when I fought for my life the first time I was in the boardroom.â€?

Sugar saw a sparkle in someone’s eye? I always assumed he saw the world as a mess of profit margins and overheads, a bit like Neo at the end of The Matrix. Apparently not. Not surprisingly for a business-minded, self-motivated person like Ricky, he didn’t enjoy failure.

“I had a few bad moments in the process. Losing as Project Manager the first two times wasn’t a highlight for me, it really wasn’t, it was horrible. Particularly the second time, with the English sparkling wines, when I was sat there – ‘so you’re Project Manager again Ricky’ ‘yes’ ‘so you’ve lost again’ ‘yes’ – it was horrible, I thought I’d gone a great job, and I had done a good job, and I felt like if I was to go today, I’d feel harshly done by, cause I’d done really really well on this task. Another lowlight was when I sat opposite Claude in the final, and he reminded me of some of the things I’d said in my application. It wasn’t the proudest moment for people to hear how I’d presented myself when I entered.â€?

Whilst I don’t think calling a potential investor an “old dogâ€? on an application form was covered during the careers talks at school, it does seem like an obvious thing not to say. Ricky was very confident, and publicly so. Did the frequent dressing down’s in the boardroom (not an HR issue!) after his losses make him more humble?

“They helped to develop me. Had I won the, I think maybe the bravado would of continued. It was week 5 which was the turning point, the fitness task. I did do a really good job, but we lost. It was after that task where I realised I needed to show LS that I can do more then talk and sell. Had I won those two, I would of spent less time with LS in the boardroom, and I might not been given the lessons and learnt from those lessons. I found the boardroom to be intimidating yes, but I was in it four times during the final 3, so I got a lot of time to spend with LS and prove to him what I’m about.â€?

It seems for Ricky that every cloud has a silver lining. Did he think that Sugar went with him because he was a safer bet, rather then any specific quality over Tom?

“Lord Sugar said himself he had two options, the safety and the devil. He went for the safety, and I think he made the right decision. He preaches in business that you should go with what you know. Do what you’ve spent you’re life doing. I was offering him something which he always tells people to do, plus my business model was very simple, very clear, start small and grow big. Safety in Lord Sugar’s eyes means there’s a return on his investment, and he saw that. He made the right decision.â€?

All well and good, but then again, he would be, as he’s the winner. Putting his wrestling behind him in order to focus on his business with Lord Sugar, it appears that Ricky has gained something more nuanced then just an investment opportunity. Still confident, it’s less overt, and he seems to have a new perspective on himself, realising that his bravado could be a weakness as well as a strength. But what about the runners up? With no investment out of the show, what did they take from it?

For Nick, it was the respect of his fellow contestants after being chosen to lead on the English sparkling wine task. Jade expressed how pleased she was to get that far, and Tom seemed to have found personal redemption after winning the sparkling wine exercise. That and the “fun day outâ€? he had with Adam in the process. Of course, it wasn’t all positive. Tom described the early mornings as a “catalogue of worst momentsâ€?, not to mention the interviews, which seemed painful, to say the least. How did the contestants find it?

“ I came out like ‘Oh my god that was awful!’, and then everybody started talking about it.â€? said Jade. According to Tom, it was a “double edged sword, it was very daunting, but quite fun. I think we all looked forward to meeting Claude, in a weird, sadistic way.â€? Nick appeared to be fairly nonplussed; , “The questions were tough, but we expected tough questions. It’s on ourself, it’s on our business plans, its things we know very very well and we’re no longer relying on our team members. I quite enjoyed it.â€?

In the preceding episode, Adam appeared to upset Karren when he told Jade to make somechocolate for their product line. Did Karren think Adam was sexist?

“On the first day Adam asked her to make a cup of tea! She’s telling the truth, everybody found it funny, but she could see that what Adam was doing how rude it was, I didn’t find it particularly rude in that case, but she could see that I was trying to hold back and it was upsetting me, and just trying to get on with it, and I think she just thought ‘you know what, I’m just going to say it’. I like Karren, she’s an inspiration to me, and it made me like her even more.â€? Tom comments, saying that Karren sees a lot of herself in Jade. “Everybody calls me Karren Brady at work!â€? Jade replies.

Clearly highly competitive people, they all strike me as remarkably positive describing a competition they didn’t win. I asked Jade if she expected that her idea would be rejected by Sugar on PR grounds. “No. Should of maybe thought about that! I thought my head was in it, but I was choosing something because of money, and I knew I could set it up straight away and make it successful straight away. But yeah, it’s hard to put his name to something like that and I should of thought about it.â€? Fair enough then.

What about Nick? Sugar seemed very confident in how he thought people planned their meals. Did this annoy Nick? “I maybe didn’t explain the business simply enough. I explained it as I would to a technical investor, rather than a more a rounded investor like LS. That was my mistake. I disagree strongly with their opinions. I’ve done the market research, I have spoken to the type of person that would use it, and the feedback from most people is that they really would like to use it.â€?

It must of really stung for Tom, being so close to winning, but losing, ultimately, because his idea was considered too much of a risk. Why wasn’t Sugar willing to take that risk?

“I think he said that because he’s getting older, he didn’t want the responsibility. Maybe that’s why. I think it was a tough decision for him.â€?

And now, the question everybody was asking – Was Stephen really as awful as he appeared on the show? Talking to a group of The Apprentice fans, you would be forgiven to think that he was an evil on par with Mao or Mengles. Was the internet fatwa against him justified? Nick disagrees;

“He’s a really nice guy. Yes, he did stab people in the back in the boardroom, we joked “do you have metal detector and a bullet proof vest onâ€? before they went in the boardroom with Stephen. What you don’t see is that we have a great relationship inside the house. We all chill out and play table tennis, swim together. He’s a nice guy, everybody thinks that. He did say some ridiculous things on task, and he was a harsh on task, and that’s why, unfortunately, he’s had a rough run in the series.â€?

So there we go. Another series of The Apprentice down, Sugar’s done another deal, and TV may of made someone look worse then they actually were. Now I’ve got to find someone who’ll be willing to invest in my idea of an Office phone that receives emails. Any takers?