To state the obvious, making a reality TV series takes longer than producing a weekly magazine like Drapers. Episode 2 of The Apprentice was broadcast on October 15, but a tiny part of it was filmed at Emap’s office in Shoreditch way back on May 2.
Along with some Emap colleagues I appeared – for a nanosecond – giving feedback to the women’s team on their ideas for wearable technology garments. The TV production team was with us for about an hour; the broadcast section lasted 40 seconds. And they say the fashion business is wasteful…
A few weeks later I got an unexpected call to attend the final of this 10th series of the show to advise Lord Sugar on one of the two contenders for his £250,000 investment. All I was told was that the project involved hosiery. The finalists’ presentations were made on Saturday, June 14 at the Bloomsbury Ballroom in London’s Holborn, the former venue for trade show Jacket Required. On the evening I was convinced that Bianca Miller would win Lord Sugar’s backing for her skin-matched range of hosiery, but as we saw yesterday evening on BBC1, she was just pipped to the prize by Australian Mark Wright, who has an idea for a digital marketing and SEO service for SMEs.
The main other industry judge on the evening was Laura Godsal, founder of mytights.com, whose comments were a key part of last night’s broadcast. The engaging Ms Miller – who celebrates her 26th birthday tomorrow (December 23) – was also advised in the televised task by Angela Blundell, Wolford’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, so she was not short of expert advice.
Amazingly, despite the finalists’ presentations being filmed 27 weeks ago, the verdict was not given to Miller and Wright until last Thursday, when the last of the filming was done. So this London-born entrepreneur has had to kick her heels for six months, unable to launch her business until she learned if Lord Sugar’s £0.25m would be hers.
But she has not been idle. She has renamed the product Second Skin (rather than True Skin, as it appeared in the programme) and she has found a manufacturer in the Midlands to make the product. Crucially, she has slimmed down her initial offering to eight shades in 15 denier sheer only (as opposed to the 720 SKUs her televised idea was based upon) and she has reduced the retail price to £7.99 from the original £30-plus.
Having recently met Bianca Miller again, I can confirm that she is impressive in real life as she was throughout the series. Intelligent and polished, she is determined to get her concept to market. As we report in our news story today, now she has to find the right investors. I wish her very well as I believe she has a great idea here. She clearly would benefit from assistance from fashion industry experts, but she makes a very effective and engaging front person for a concept that was widely welcomed by consumers interviewed during the filming of the series. I don’t think we have heard the last of her company Bianca Miller London and its brand Second Skin.
The final of The Apprentice will be repeated at 11.40pm tomorrow (December 23) on BBC1 and will be available on the BBC iPlayer.
PS My over-riding memory of the evening of June 14 was that Lord Sugar was very grumpy when Bianca Miller’s presentation video would not play back. He gave the distinct impression of wanting to be off to watch the next World Cup game on the TV. It was, however, an entertaining and fascinating insight into this highly addictive series.
•Bianca Miller will appear in our My Fashion Life feature in our January 10 issue.