What We’ve Learnt from the Apprentice 2014

(Image: The Telegraph)
The BBC favourite, The Apprentice, is over for yet another year. So we thought we’d take a look back at series ten and summarise what we’ve learnt about the world of business from this over-confident, gutsy bunch of candidates.

It’s the Little Things That Count


It’s great to have ambition, but it is important to get the basics right first before you reach too big. As the saying goes – you have to learn to walk before you can run.

This couldn’t be more obvious than in the country selling task where James got the hot tub salesman’s name wrong. Despite being told his name was Anthony, James repeatedly called him Derek; certainly one way to make a bad impression!

And it happened again with Solomon’s business plan. We know from our experience dealing with lenders that an eight page business plan full of pictures just won’t cut it. You need to do your maths and show where the money will be spent.

Be Realistic

Although you may have every faith in your business, it is important to be realistic and not over-promise.

Bianca learnt this when she promised exclusivity for the entire borough when taking part in the board game task; agreeing a deal for only a few units that could have easily been gazumped by more lucrative meetings scheduled just around the corner.

Although you want to keep your clients happy, or win over a potential prospect and close a deal, think about the bigger picture and if you can really come through on what you are offering, and if it’s worth it.

Don’t Get too Big for Your Boots

Bragging about how brilliant you are may get you onto the TV show, but you’re sure to ruffle a few feathers once the competition has started. At the end of the day it is good to be self-confident, but talking about yourself in the third person as some kind of elite figure is just going to make people think you’re an idiot.

Felipe fell afoul of Lord Sugar when he tried to outsmart him and buy a paper skeleton rather than a 3D anatomical version. What soon became #SkeletonGate on Twitter showed us all it is important to think innovatively, but be careful not to take it too far. And never publically confront your boss or client and tell them that they are wrong!

Listen to Your Customers

The whole point of conducting customer research is to get the honest feedback of your target market and to adjust your idea to give people what they want. But year after year we see Apprentice contestants ignoring what the public say because they think they know better. In a rare instance this may be true, but it wasn’t for Sanjay on the luxury pudding task.

Acknowledging flaws or pre-empting possible issues and then analytically solving these issues is a method that is most likely going to be of benefit in the world of business.

Admit You Messed Up

No one likes messing up, but it is important to own up to it when you do. If you don’t you’re likely to come into worse problems further down the road.

James found this out when he lied about why the team didn’t get the hot tubs in the country show challenge. It was of course because he screwed up the client’s name, but he then lied and said he’d simply changed his mind. His explanation for this was to keep his team motivated.

(Image: The BBC)

James may not have wanted to dampen the mood, but he lost his colleagues’ trust and respect in doing so. It’s always best to acknowledge your mistakes and rectify them rather than run and hide.

Oh, and never fake your CV and lie about it like Mark did.

What did you learn from the latest series of the Apprentice? Let us know on Twitter.

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