Vital business lessons The Apprentice taught us this year

The Apprentice What We've Learnt

We’re getting closer to finding out who will be named this year’s winner of the prestigious partnership with Lord Sugar himself, and we think this might just have been the best season of The Apprentice yet. There’ve been the usual personality clashes, the hilarious soundbites and the fist-bitingly awful gaffes, but that’s precisely what makes the programme such an addictive watch.

Many people will loudly claim that The Apprentice has next to nothing to do with being good at business, but we beg to differ. Here are the most important business lessons that this year’s crop of candidates have taught us.

Get The Basics Right
Sure you might not know the year-end turnover of your newest prospect, or the exact date that their next product is set to be released. But getting the most basic information wrong – such as their name, as James memorably did to poor Anthony (otherwise known as Derek) the hot-tub seller – is a sure-fire route to a disastrous first impression (and we’ve already learned plenty from this year’s candidates about first impressions). Do your research in advance (LinkedIn is your friend here) and greeting people by name when they introduce themselves is a helpful way to fix the name in your memory. If only James had tried that…

Don’t Over-Promise For Little Reward
Bianca latched onto a loser here when she promised exclusivity of an entire borough for a few units during the board-game task, not realising that the other half of the team had set up a series of likely lucrative meetings in that same borough. While it’s often tempting to say whatever the client or prospect wants to hear to close a deal, taking a second to think about the bigger picture is often wise.

Don’t Try To Be Clever
Everyone’s favourite person who only refers to themselves in the third person, Felipe, fell foul of Lord Sugar’s infamous ego when he decided to try and use smarts to win a task. The ensuing scandal that followed (#SkeletonGate on Twitter) suggests that Lord Sugar was in the wrong, but if there’s one thing you do, it’s don’t suggest that your senior is wrong in the way that Felipe did. If you’re still convinced you’re in the right, find a private way to tactfully express your concerns to your boss.

Don’t See Negativity, See Constructive Feedback
We’ve seen multiple incidents of candidates pointedly ignoring market research, and in the most recent task – luxury puddings – Sanjay chose to completely bury bad feedback ahead of the pitch. In reality, acknowledging the flaws in the product (which were also identified by the buyers) pre-emptively, and demonstrating a capacity for being self-analytical, would likely have left a better taste in the mouth.

And…If You Mess Up, Hold Your Hands Up
Another clanger from James (and the classic tactic amongst most candidates) is not admitting when you made a mistake, as he did following the hot-tub incident. Keeping bad news from your team can often be for their benefit, but consider what you might lose by lying, such as their respect and in James’ case, a place at the boardroom table. It’s always best to fix a mistake, and fast, than cover it up and let it get worse.

What has been your favourite moment from this year’s Apprentice? Who do you want to win? Let us know on Twitter!

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About the author

Gemma Falconer is a Campaign Manager for Citrix. She is part of the EMEA marketing team and looks after the webinar programme, email nurturing and content creation for the UK. In her spare time, you'll find her diving around a volleyball court, trying to learn Portuguese and eating cake – lots of cake! Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter More blog posts by Gemma Falconer ››
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  • David

    I thought the most unfortunate aspect was the way the programme promotes blame culture. In one example, I think it was the game with the skeleton, the team were all over each other with praise and congratulation, thinking they were bound to win. The moment it looked like they were going to lose, this changed to blame, bitching and Teflon. All very sad I thought and not one of them was concerned with promoting decent team ethics. This doesn’t mean that problems don’t need to be addressed but “it ain’t what you do it’s ……….”

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