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Wednesday 21 October 2015

Out of the Woods and into the board room!

It’s two for two for Solent alumnus Richard Woods! Ahead of his appearance in the third episode of BBC One’s The Apprentice tomorrow night (21 October) at 9pm, we caught up with him to see how he got on.

How did you find the first task?

It was so tiring – we were woken at 2.30am and didn’t stop until 11pm! There was lots to do to get ready to sell the lunch, which sold out! We then had to get the evening tray ready to catch commuters on their way home. We were ghosts by the end of it.

Now we can’t move on without talking about ‘calamari gate’…

Hilarious! There were four of us in the sub-team, including the project manager (PM). Fish can be pretty lethal if it gets too hot – so I’m glad I checked it otherwise it could have been much worse.

It was no ones fault, and as I said in the boardroom, the cool box wasn’t cool and we didn’t have a fridge, so there was nothing we could do. I explained to Lord Sugar that it was a hot day, fish, no fridge, and he seemed to understand. If we had lost the task I think it would have been another matter.

Richard graduated from Solent in 2005

“Every pound saved, is money made” – where did this great insight come from?

It’s true, the first pound saved is the first pound made, but I’m not sure where it came from, probably my old man. About 50% of my catchphrases are from him; I think they’ve subliminally worked their way into me over the years, and probably came from his dad!

Any great tips and advice from your family?

My wife told me wind my neck in! I think going into the house, my strategy was not to be PM first, but to take a task in the first four weeks (if I made it that far!). And then of course the second task came up and it was perfect for me, so the strategy went out the window.

How nerve-wracking was it in the boardroom for the first time?

It was incredibly nerve-wracking! It’s really strange because even sat in the waiting room you get star struck, and then you see Karren Brady, Lord Sugar and Claude Littner. You’re bricking it the first time you get asked anything – and there are a lot of cameras. It’s incredibly intimidating, like something out of a 1980s power dressing handbook, but it’s meant to be like that.

Episode two…how did you find the task?

Really nervous to start with as my voice was breaking due to shouting so much the day before, selling the fish. The task was made for me though; I’m a digital marketing person, it’s what I do – create logos, launch brands. It was a great opportunity to shine, but it was a bit early doors. I knew that if it all went wrong, I would be out – you can’t be a digital marketing manager and not win the task. Luckily it all went incredibly well and I tried to make sure everyone felt they were contributing. As Karren Brady alluded, I put my name on everything and pulled the strings.

Did you enjoy being project manager?

Without shadow of a doubt, yes. It gives you control and more of an insight into what is happening, so you feel more on top of the task. When you are just part of the team and someone else is PM, you do worry about getting stitched up or being put in a position to go. As PM, you are the master of your own death.

Before we move on, two words… David Brent…

My word, it’s not the best thing to be known as but you don’t go into this process without being able to take a joke. It’s funny – my management style isn’t taken out of David Brent’s handbook though! It was really funny at the time.

What was it like facing Lord Sugar in the boardroom having been PM?

I was lucky enough to get some incredible feedback, Lord Sugar said it was the best ad task he has seen in the boardroom. Karren Brady said it was a bit ‘Richard and his seven helpers’; there’s two ways you can take that and I took it as a compliment. Some people would say it meant I wasn’t a team player, but at the end of the day there is only one investment opportunity and so you have to stand out. It gave me momentum going into the next task.

You’re through to round three, what sort of reaction have you had?

It has been really great, everyone has been really supportive. It’s exciting as well andYomp [Richard’s digital marketing agency] has been getting great feedback and lots of enquiries. Lots of people are saying hello and I went to the rugby at the weekend and got recognised, which was a bit weird!

What can we look forward to on Wednesday?

It’s the discount buying / scavenger week – and boys vs girls. We go off to France to find our items – but you’ll have to tune in to see how we do!


Richard has a 2:1 BA (Hons) Business and Entrepreneurship from Solent (graduating in 2005), and has gone on to start four successful businesses, including digital marketing agency Yomp.