The Apprentice: Oops, they did it again – S16, ep 2

This week the candidates were asked to create an electric toothbrush and accompanying app for children. Let's find out how they got on

Warning: spoilers ahead

It’s 4am. Pharmacist Navid enters a darkened scene and picks up the telephone. ‘Lord Sugar would like you to make your way to the Eastman Dental Institute. The cars will be outside in 30 minutes.’

A band of tired yet hurried candidates get themselves together in an uncharacteristically bleary-eyed fashion. Welcome to episode two of The Apprentice.

At the institute, Karren instructs the candidates to look at their screens. A CGI Lord Sugar Tooth Fairy, who I suspect poo-pooed the idea of wearing a tutu, assigns them their task. Their job this week is to create an electric toothbrush and accompanying app for children aged between six and eight which encourages them to brush.

Francesca and Aaron are the project managers, as voted by respective committees. Speaking of which, both teams seem more cohesive and collaborative – at least for now. The boys are going with a wizard theme, while the girls plump for a space theme. On the sidelines, woefully shaking their heads and supressing disgust, are Karren (girls’ team) and Tim (boys’ team).

Brush first, then… app?

We’re foregoing flossing altogether and reaching straight for the toothbrush in this challenge. The girls’ design is bright orange with a rocket and a load of stars on it. Concerns are raised early that it looks too babyish for its target market.  

On the app team, the animator looks unamused, placing trampoline parks and bowling alleys alongside comets and an animated tooth that’ll reside in children’s nightmares forever more. The rave-y music is great though.

Now, the boys. The faecal imagery endures from last week, this time in the form of a brown log with a green toothbrush sticking out of it and an app fronted by ‘Wiffy the Wizard’.

Conor has experience in creating apps so he’s going to lead the app team. Wiffy floats around the screen removing plaque off teeth to what is quite a soothing mythical tune.

Both project managers are defied by their teams, with Francesca getting a dazzling intergalactic toothbrush instead of a plain orange one and Aaron getting a toothbrush app for boys when he asked for a gender-neutral one. He explicitly says, ‘Don’t go rogue.’ However, Conor seems to prefer going down a one gender or other route from an early stage…

By 9pm the apps are complete and seem to have the exact opposite issues, leading to either bored or overstimulated sprogs.

‘Savage’ customer feedback

On to the next day, the candidates have to steel themselves for their toughest critics: the kids. A focus group of five children in their target market give feedback on each toothbrush and app.

These kids aren’t loving the girls’ offering because it looks a little bit ‘young-ish’, more for three-year-olds. It doesn’t teach you how to improve your brushing, either.  

They’re not overjoyed by the boys’ one, being put off by the colour and a boring app. The team watching on described their feedback as ‘savage’. One of the two boys in the children’s group raises his hand to show that he’d ask his parents to buy him the toothbrush. Nick, a true masseuse of numbers, spins this into the ‘50 per cent of the target market would ask their parents to buy them this toothbrush’ angle.

Though they had time constraints, this illustrates why doing market research is crucial for your business. Read more at Why market research is so important for a start-up business.

Double the pitches

This time the teams step up to do two pitches, facing healthcare professional BUPA and high street retailer, Superdrug.

Aaron, Conor and Alex are pitching for the boys. BUPA don’t seem impressed at first. Nor does Tim as he winces in the corner.

Alex is swapped out for Nick in the second pitch. Despite disapproval from the Superdrug panel, Aaron says brown ‘is the colour we’ll always keep’. He worries changing the colour could make them lose credibility. ‘I genuinely don’t get it,’ one representative said, ‘I look at the brush and it looks like a t*rd.’ 

Francesca, Amy, Stephanie and Harpeet pitch for the girls. BUPA still seem unenthusiastic – perhaps it’s them and not the pitches. Though there were issues with the product being too young for the market, the girls said they would tweak the product based on BUPA’s recommendations. Karren’s not so impressed: ‘Normally you’re only changing a couple of things, not everything.’

The scary tooth character is the main pain point in the second pitch, but again the team say they’ll change it.

A Sugar-fuelled drilling in the boardroom

After seeing how overstimulating the girls’ app was, Lord Sugar questioned how beneficial it would be at bedtime and jokes about using Red Bull as mouthwash.

He also challenges the name Wiffy, when Tim interjects and says that none of the boys ‘stepped back and really thought of the connotations of that name’.

>See also: How to choose a great name for your new business

Karren and Tim deliver the buyers’ verdicts. 

The girls got 1,000 orders from BUPA and 10,000 from Superdrug.

The boys got zero orders from BUPA and zero from Superdrug.

From victory high to sugar high, the girls are rewarded with high tea in Chelsea for their second win.

Aaron, Nick and Conor are the final three in the boardroom. The others are dismissed, as if they’re being sent back to the house to think about what they’ve done.

Lord Sugar casts his eye over the remaining gents and says, ‘I’m a wizard and I’m going to make one of you disappear today.’ It’s Conor who is wheeling his suitcase out of the boardroom.

In a surprise turn, Sugar assigns Nick as a project manager for the next task ‘to see what he can do’.

Watch the whole episode on BBC iPlayer.

Next week: Non-Alcoholic Drinks

The candidates will be trying to come up with a new alcohol-free beverage that they can sell to leading retailers. Come back next Friday (January 21) for the recap!

Catch up on last week’s episode:

The Apprentice: Hardly a cruise for the candidates – series 16 episode 1 review

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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