I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks as one of my clients is the incredible bean to bar single estate chocolate Willie’s Cacao. I’m the head of marketing and PR for the brand, and as a result I was sworn to secrecy about a chocolate task coming up that would feature Willie’s Cacao chocolates.

This wasn’t the only reason I anticipated this week though, as a large portion of my life is spent promoting the best chocolate, I couldn’t wait to see how the teams tackled this task. I was not disappointed but I was rather surprised. A few unexpected insights came out of week 10 and I feel it’s been the best task yet!

Let’s start from the beginning:

Sordid Sweets

Camilla, Daniel and Sarah-Ann decided on a cheeky theme for their chocolates, which would have been fine if they’d stuck to their own brief. The conception was genius, the execution disastrous as Camilla and Daniel led each other astray while branding the cheeky treats.

It all began so innocently.

Tongue in cheek chocolates that are a little bit of fun for grownups. When they pitched this idea I had visions of a cheeky elf, possibly some brazen branding and tag lines, (this isn’t socks, drunken chocs, sod the diet, fill your face etc.) I didn’t envisage sex. In seconds they seemed to veer off from cheeky and drove straight into slutty and sexist territory making the brand a sordid box that looked like it should house a chocolate c***.

It was garish, it looked like it belonged in a seaside joke shop. I would say Ann Summers, but really, Ann Summers is a little classier than the red-light district box. A scantily clad Mrs Christmas wore fishnet stockings and suspenders, and asked how naughty you’d been this Christmas. The bold name read, Santa’s Chocolate Seduction which throws up a whole host of images that most people would prefer to forget.

Camilla, if she has any self awareness should realise that she bombs at branding (JetPop – the exploding airline) and would have been more productive in the kitchen, which leads me to a very tipsy Sara-Anne

A Christmas Tipple Spells Trouble

Sarah-Anne knows she's in trouble

Sarah-Ann knows she’s in trouble

Sarah-Ann was left creating the chocolates, deciding on flavour combinations and compiling a list of ingredients so the chocolates could be mass produced. She began with the tasting of all the tipples, she continued with the tasting of all the tipples, she finished with a pallet cleanser of apple cider. She was a bit flushed in the face and wobbly on her feet by the time Karren interjected (which is extremely rare so she must have been concerned) to ask if she’d weighed her ingredients. The answer was no, and as a result, chocolates were created that tasted of nothing but chocolate. The rum had run away, the dates had disappeared and the popping candy had popped off. Of course, the public told Sarah –Ann this during the market research but she decided to deny it and pushed the research as 100% positive.

Moonpig did put in an order for 750 though (Co-Op quite rightly turned them down) and I think this was due to the quirky (I’m being kind) personality of the group, rather than the product itself.

Bland Brands

At the other end of the spectrum, Sabrina, as team leader, decided to cater for the luxury market. Coupled with Sian in the branding team, she came up with a design reminiscent of an 80’s luxury Christmas card. The type of luxury card that would be found in Bob’s Bargains, A to Z or BJ’s Discount Warehouse. It was retro and kitsch but I’m not sure that was the look they were going for.

Khadija meanwhile, seemed happy as Larry as she created the chocolates in the factory. She chose some interesting flavours that worked and produced an impressive tray of luxury chocolates. Sabrina was disappointed as she wanted an “out there” flavour, but she didn’t communicate this disappointment to Khadija at a time when the flavours could be changed.

Sian The Apprentice

Will Sian win?

For these, the errors were not made in the production but in the pitches. Sian seemed to be possessed, desperate for an order she promised £100,000 worth of pop up advertising to Moonpig while Sabrina offered completely different box designs. Sian surprised me, I didn’t expect her to lose her cool under pressure, nor did I expect to warm to Khadija as she’s been difficult to like. Khadija conducted herself with professionalism and poise throughout the pitches, she may have just been happy to watch the others hang themselves, and for that, she earns brownie points. She obviously works well on her own and has developed a quiet self assurance as the weeks have gone on. No longer is she desperate to prove herself.

Co-Op loved Remoir Chocolat and placed 7000 orders making this team the winner by a country mile.

The Boardroom Blitz

This left Sarah-Ann, Daniel and Camilla to battle it out in the boardroom, and it was obvious that Sarah-Ann would be leaving the process. She’s been out of her depth for a few weeks now, and made some schoolgirl errors, commercially, I couldn’t see Lord Sugar wanting to invest. Camilla, of course, should have waved goodbye too, but she has shown signs of promise. It’ll be interesting to see her thrash it out with Claude and the gang through the interviews, while Daniel may have to put a stop to his blagging.

Who Will Win?

That leaves us pondering the most important question of the year. Who is the worthy recipient of a £250,000 cash injection?

Let’s have a quick look at the finalists.

Daniel

Daniel is fun, he’s lively and energetic and he has shown some good business sense. Unfortunately this has been overshadowed by his “devil may care” attitude and so it’s all come across as off the cuff, instead of serious. His business plan will be interesting, I’ll be keen to know if it’s viable or if he has his head in the clouds.

Sabrina

Sabrina has spoke sense at times, but at the wrong times. She always deposits her words of wisdom after a decision has been made, as if she’s covering herself, should she be brought back into the boardroom. She’s good at deflecting responsibility but she’s also a hard worker who’s passionate and enthusiastic. For her age, she’s a fine business candidate, although a few more years in the big wide world wouldn’t hurt, I’m sure she’d protect Lord Sugar’s investment.

Sian

I’ve been betting on Sian to win since week 5. She’s conducted herself with grace and poise and has been thoroughly consistent. Her verbal diarrhoea surprised me in week 10 but still I think she’s worthy of the final. I’d like to see her and Daniel or Khadija go head to head.

Camilla

I can’t respect Camilla no matter how well her nut brand is doing, she’s made too many mistakes and acted too childishly throughout. She’s frustrating. I’m sure she’s great to follow on Instagram for inspirational quotes and motivation but I wouldn’t invest in her unless she produced a million pound’s worth of purchase orders.

Khadija

It’s taken me weeks to warm to Khadija but should this be a reason for not wanting her to win? From a business angle, her personality, unless disruptive and aggressive, should mean nothing. She’s a grafter and she will work hard. She’ll lead from the front, and she’ll make the most of every penny, whether it’s spent on assets or staff. She may have trouble sharing responsibility though, and trusting others to do their jobs, but I do think once she’s in control she’ll flourish.