Both finalists, Harpreet and Kathryn, are on their way to the British Museum in London’s Bloomsbury.
Tension hangs in place of the normal buzz and chatter in the back of the cab. The finalists aren’t even looking at each other, tight body language directed towards the windows, leaving enough room between them for a freight train to push through.
For their final task, the rivals have three days to launch their businesses, complete with a billboard and TV advert. Then they must pitch their ventures to Lord Sugar himself, plus an expert panel with know-how in their respective industries.
“I’ve arranged some help,” Lord Sugar starts as a select gaggle of this series’ fired candidates walk in. It’s a return to school P.E. class as the teams are excruciatingly chosen one at a time by the finalists. The pain is palpable as a shot of Harry on his own lingers on the screen for just a second too long.
Here’s the final team breakdown:
Team Harpreet + Karren: Brittany, Akshay, Nick and Navid
Team Kathryn + Tim: Stephanie, Amy, Akeem and Harry
The table of treats in front of them must make Harpreet’s team grateful to be chosen. Nick is already in a squirrel-like state: the man loves his snacks.
Harpreet skips through the brand name suggestions from her teammates like dud matches on Tinder: Ultimate Yums, Dessert Stop, Scrumptious Melt, Hyper Joy (though I’m sure she wants to avoid another child-unfriendly branding disaster like in baby food week).
The brand name comes pretty easily to Kathryn’s team, combining ‘pyjama’ and ‘family’ to create Pyjamily. Portmanteau-yeah.
Over at the design agency, Harpreet’s being uncharacteristically indecisive, with Brittany feeling more like an equal team member at this point. Even Karren’s noticed. “Does the ‘Oh So’ read like some kind of Japanese furniture brand?” Harpreet asks, her confidence dashed.
Again, Kathryn’s logo comes together relatively painlessly. She’s gone with the same navy blue that she was called up on in week one’s Bouji Cruises branding. It doesn’t go down well with the rest of team, who think it looks too cold and corporate. The characters on the logo look like Neighbourhood Watch gone bad. “It’s like a horror movie” says Harry. The consumer feedback says the logo is very “charity shop” or “has come from a healthcare authority”. Though Kathryn has mentioned family pyjamas in her tagline which contestants have failed to do in previous branding challenges.
Fan faves Nick and Akshay are with Navid to mock-up the digital billboard and TV advert. Nick is still wide-eyed and snacking through Harpreet’s brief.
Brittany has concerns that the digital team have been left without a babysitter. Cut to the boys having an audition to find whose cake face will win a spot on the billboard. Nick is in the bag, surely? Nope, Navid wins! During the shoot, Navid tries to give a repeat performance and Akshay is not best pleased: “I don’t like it.” Akshay protests. The cake breaks in half and falls onto the plate as Navid’s spirit crumbles. Nick hops in and gets the shoot right first time. Order has been restored. “It should be poppin’ – as in amazing” Navid points out.
The chemistry isn’t poppin’ on the other team, though. Amy and Akeem are starring in the billboard as a married couple, with Harry directing. “Chemistry, I want to see chemistry!” he demands of Amy and Akeem, who are nailing the awkward catalogue couple. By the time the advert shoots, poor Akeem has found himself as a third wheel (and not against the toy dog) in Amy and Harry’s bitter bickering matches. It’s pretty compelling. A good screenwriter could extend this promo into a decent full-length drama.
Harpreet loves the advert and finds herself crying with laughter at it: “Nick, your acting skills are superb!” she beams. Meanwhile, Kathryn is actually crying at her team’s advert, despite the team’s squabbles.
For her signature product, Harpreet creates a chocolate chip cookie shot glass, taking a twist on an classic bestseller. But with the unease about her USP last week, is choc chip cookie dough going to be unique enough? Kathryn goes for jungle PJs as it’s an easier design to do unisex, though it seems concerningly similar to the set Linda pulled out in the interviews last week from another retailer while questioning Kathryn’s unique designs. Long story short: Linda wasn’t fooled by Kathryn’s jim jam flimflam.
It’s time for the pitches, with the rest of the candidates eagerly watching over the railings.
Harpreet’s first up to pitch and she’s nervous. “Remember to slow it down and breathe,” she says to herself. Though she stumbles, she seems to carry the pitch through successfully while Lord Sugar smiles knowingly at Nick’s acting prowess. The panel quiz her about scaleability, especially in such a saturated market.
Kathryn sells her matching family pyjama business as “on trend, affordable and comfortable” with great confidence. She gets questions about standing out in a crowded marketplace as well as a challenge about jungle prints being “on-trend”, saying that it was on-trend a couple of years ago. “I don’t see a gap but I see an opportunity” says one of the panel after the presentation.
The final boardroom
It’s a mix of hot and cold in the last boardroom debrief. Akshay hails Harpreet as a “deserving candidate” while Kathryn’s team praise her clear vision.
Things get spicy when Navid says Akshay pissed him off when they were in the boardroom. Of course, Amy and Harry’s terse relationship was a key talking point.
The others leave and it’s time for the Harps and Kath showdown. Lord Sugar questions how Harpreet will scale the business if she doesn’t bake the goods herself. He must know he’s going to get called out on this as 2019 winner, Carina Lepore, earned the reputation of “the baker who doesn’t bake” and she still won the show. “Has the boat gone on dessert parlours?” he asks. Harpreet stresses that delivery is the USP, but in reality, her business was started five years ago, so she’s probably been cruising pretty comfortably.
Lord Sugar worries about the popularity and longevity of Kathryn’s business, plus the validity of jungle print being on-trend. She tries to defend herself, but Lord Sugar seems to be tuning it out.
The most important question is: what would they spend the investment on?
Harpreet would take a portion of the money to invest in three stores, but she wants to go more ambitious than her business plan outlines.
Kathryn wants to scale up and do online marketing with influencers, looking to expand to retail shops in future.
Even though there have been tensions for the entire episode, the two finalists don’t each other alive. It’s all rather civil.
There’s some faux head-scratching and umming and ahhing from Lord Sugar. He ponders that a lot of businesses he invests in start from nothing like Kathryn’s, but this is dismissed almost immediately as Sugar points his finger at Harpreet, the winner of The Apprentice 2022.
Watch the final on BBC iPlayer
So, that’s it for another series! Catch up on the rest of the episodes below:
The Apprentice: Hardly a cruise for the candidates – series 16 episode 1 review
The Apprentice: Oops they did it again – S16, ep 2
The Apprentice: Shaken and stirred with plenty of zingers – S16, ep 3
The Apprentice: For goodness’ hake – S16, ep 4
The Apprentice: Gaming, blaming, shaming – S16 ep 5
The Apprentice: Ask and you shall be ripped off – S16, ep 6
The Apprentice: No peas in these pods – S16 ep 7
The Apprentice: Hig-speed hijinks – S16 ep 8
The Apprentice: Can we say it was life-changing? S16 ep 9
The Apprentice: Always check the label – S16 ep 10