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JD O'Brien exits The Apprentice after admitting 'balls up'

Published 04/11/2016

Lord Sugar opted to fire JD O'Brien
Lord Sugar opted to fire JD O'Brien

The Apprentice's JD O'Brien has admitted he "ballsed up" by trusting team members, a mistake that contributed to him losing his place in the competition as he became the latest in Lord Sugar's firing line.

However, he graciously maintained that the failure was largely down to him as Team Nebula's rather relaxed project manager.

The candidates were tasked with launching a crowdfunding campaign in order to raise as much money as possible for two entrepreneurs' cycling products.

Along with creating a fundraising website, the contestants had to pull off a publicity stunt to encourage the public to invest in the products, and there wa s also a chance for the teams to pitch to retailers.

O'Brien and his team opted to work with bone conduction headphones for cyclists, while Team Titan - led by sales manager Samuel Boateng - promoted a light-up safety gilet.

Problems quickly arose within Nebula's sub-team, as Paul Sullivan and Sofiane Khelfa repeatedly butted heads, causing them to launch the website later than planned due to a quibble over rewards for public pledges.

"I'm happy for them to do their job, I'm happy to take a step back and just chill out," O'Brien said during the challenge.

After a 24-hour period, the candidates were called into the boardroom where it was revealed that Team Titan had won the challenge with a total of £788 raised. Team Nebula trailed behind with £681 raised.

Criticism came from Lord Sugar over Nebula's publicity stunt - the use of a self-written song performed by a gospel choir at a train station - into which O'Brien offered little input.

He also condemned the team's lack of tact in pitching to retailers.

O'Brien decided to bring Rebecca Jeffery, who managed the publicity stunt, and sub-team leader Sullivan back into the boardroom to face Lord Sugar.

Baffled by O'Brien's choice to bring Sullivan back, Lord Sugar said: "JD, you admit your mistakes, I wonder whether it was another mistake, you bringing him [Paul] back in here instead of Sofiane."

The business boss questioned Jeffery's skills as a "marketing person" and told Sullivan that he remains unsure about his "stability" as a prospective business partner.

But it was O'Brien, who repeatedly apologised for the failings in the task, who was given the firing finger.

Lord Sugar said: "It's not difficult for me to consider that you are responsible for the failure of this task JD, and all you have done today is admit your mistakes, and it's something that I can't ignore. JD ... you're fired."

O'Brien told the Press Association: "With hindsight I should have micro-managed more, but I just didn't believe I needed to as (the other candidates) are supposed to be capable business people.

"And if I'd known they would make a pig's ear of it I would have taken a more hands-on approach. Again ultimately I was PM so have to hold my hand up for so many errors."

The beachwear company boss said: "I probably took my eye off the ball a bit here because of the nature of my approach".

"My main strength is dealing with people, I get on with most people, I can read people and can get the best out of situations. Having said that I ballsed this up by over-trusting so may need to work on it."

:: The Apprentice continues next Thursday on BBC One at 9pm as the remaining candidates fight for Lord Sugar's £250,000 investment in their business plans.

Press Association

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