He may have had the worse track record in the boardroom but he came through in the end and proved that nice guys can come first in business. Welcome to Lord Sugar’s new Apprentice – Tom Pellereau, the inventor whose business plan about a chair designed to eliminate back pain in the office, won against stiff competition from skincare entrepreneur Susan Ma, executive assistant Helen Milligan, and sales and marketing manager Jim Eastwood. Tom had only succeeded in winning just three tasks throughout the process but the inventor, 32, has become Lord Alan Sugar’s newest business partner and will now receive a cash injection of £250,000 to start up his business with the help of the multi-millionaire.
Tom seemed to have a great gift of hindsight throughout the process and often voiced his concerns when tasks were going wrong, but appeared to cave in too easily when confronted by stronger members of the team. But it was his ideas and the fact that he had already taken an invention to market that finally caught Lord Sugar’s eye who commented on the You’re Hired show after the final, ‘I’m a product man at heart.’ In the final, the format was changed from previous shows and the contestants had to face a grilling from Lord Sugar’s aides and business confidantes. Amongst the questioners were Margaret Mountford, a former assistant on the show, Claude Littner, 57, former global troubleshooter for the businessman, Mike Suitor, pioneer of Britain’s free magazine industry and Matthew Riley, a recipient of a young entrepreneur award in 2007, who now owns a multi-million pound telecoms company.
All four contestants business plans were deemed as flawed with Margaret pointing out that Jedi Jim could not answer a question without using a cliché, Susan had not costed in the testing of her skincare range and Helen’s concierge plan would not work due to her lack of contacts. Tom fared no better as Matthew commenting that while his main business plan was focused on specially designed work seats, nowhere throughout his entire business proposal had he used the word ‘chair’. And crunching the numbers, Mike realised that Tom’s calculations just didn’t add up. However, it was Karen Brady who spotted the potential of a good working partnership and said in the boardroom as Lord Sugar was making his final decision, “Of all the candidates he’s the one who would most benefit from your involvement. He is an inventor, he has got ideas but he doesn’t have that cutting commercial edge which you could contribute.” It seemed that Lord Sugar agreed and after a last ditch attempt by Helen who offered a bakery business when she saw her concierge plan had disappointed Lord Sugar, he plumped for Tom with the now immortal words “You’re Hired!”
Lord Sugar told the inventor: ‘You’ve got the experience in inventing and selling stuff. The current business idea needs tweaking and that’s what business is all about.’ It is thought that along with the chair business plan, Lord Sugar also wants to take forward his nail file product, which has been sold in major retailers, into the new business. Well done Tom!