The Apprentice 2009 the final – Yasmina wins it for entrepreneurs

In a chocolate challenge, entrepreneurial Yasmina Siadatan beats polished Kate Walsh to become Sir Alan’s fifith Apprentice.

7th June 2009 at 11:55 pm

Yes, Yasmina! From the moment I saw her in action in weeks one and two, she was my hot tip to win this year’s Apprentice.

And so it proved in tonight’s final when shrewd business instinct, rather than polish, clinched the Reading entrepreneur and restaurant owner a job with Sir Alan Sugar.

And I’m so happy. Not just because I guessed right, but because Yasmina’s win is a win for startups and small business owners around the country.

The Apprentice 2009 won by Yasmina Siadatan

Yasmina Siadatan - winner of The Apprentice 2009, giving up grim-faced determination for a touch of glamour

In choosing one of the very few candidates to have built her own business up from scratch, Sir Alan again showed that he and his business values the entrepreneurial over the corporate.

Ultimately Yasmina was clearly going to appeal to the soon to be ennobled business tycoon when you read what she’s quoted as saying from the outset on the BBC website:

Business is about a simple formula. Make more than you spend. That’s what I do, I keep business simple and it works. I’m good at it.

Very business savvy, very focused, but also despite her grim-faced determination, outside the boardroom she clearly knew how to have a good time and was liked and respected.

Kate Walsh put in another polished and very impressive performance and like Debra Barr the week before was unlucky not to taste victory in a challenge that pitted the two young women against each other to design and launch a new brand of chocolates.

Kate went upmarket with a box of chocolates for him, for her and to share. Brilliantly executed and presented and only just saved from being called ‘Intimate’ thanks to Debra who joined Kate’s team along with Ben, Kim and Rocky.

Nick gave his verdict on Kate’s first name for her chocolates: ‘frankly it sounds like something to do with feminine freshness’. Mouthy Debra, put it more succinctly – ‘oh my god, it looks like a box of tampons’.

And in so doing she saved Kate from a huge error as the team rapidly came up with the rather good ‘Choc D’Amour’ in just a few minutes before the deadline to confirm packaging design.

Yasmina also escaped certain death in the boardroom, by bravely giving up on a frankly idiotic idea to create a new range of chocolates exclusively marketed to men.

The moment that convinced her ‘man chocolates’ were a bad idea was when Philip, who’d joined her team along with Howard, Lorraine and James, suggested, like ‘pants man’, people would come around to the idea.

It was good to see Philip back. Most of the comedy in this final episode was his. Taking charge of choreography for a dance troupe for Yasmina’s launch event was a sight to behold, only narrowly bettered by his original pants man gyrations.

Yasmina’s Cocoa Electric chocolates, all electric shock, shocking pink and electrifying taste sensation, was all very retro with danger written all over it in a very 80s Duran Duran video kind of way. A fact confirmed when we caught a glimpse of Philip with a shocking pink thunderflash painted across his face.

Kate’s overall presentation and TV ad, in particular, outshone Yasmina’s. But Yasmina got price right again, bringing her chocolates in at £6 per box, compared to Kate’s £13.

Sadly, the chocolates tasted as shocking as the pink in which they were packaged. But in an echo of the catering task when Yasmina bought poor quality food and successfully achieved a huge margin, it was that simple business principle that won the day.

Ironic that the woman whose restaurant is by all accounts really rather good, should have won by literally sacrificing taste for short term profit.

Some will argue the short term, quick buck mentality is a short-coming of The Apprentice and its series of reality TV business challenges.

In fact the real business lesson from this year’s series, is Yasmina’s dedicated focus on her customer – namely Sir Alan Sugar.

She clearly knew her business flare would appeal and did everything necessary to deliver it in a way that would catch Sir Alan’s eye.

A good winner who I bet will return to her own successful entrepreneurial venture a year after spending time learning all she can from Sir Alan’s organisation. A smart cookie.

Quote of the week, from Sir Alan himself: “They weren’t shocking flavours, they were shocking chocolates”.

Business lesson of the week: know your customer.


Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog.

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