Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Wednesday Night is Apprentice Night

"The Apprentice" is must watch TV.

Column inches have already been written in the press and in other blogs about previous series and the current Series 4 (which we are now halfway through). And I just HAVE to add my thoughts to the mix....

The beauty of "The Apprentice" is that it is entertaining, informative and educational. Above all it is about people - with all their brilliance, stupidity and flaws.

Who can forget candidates from previous series such as Tre Azam, Ruth Badger, Katy Hopkins or Saira Khan who have made their mark on the public imagination?

I would never put myself up for such humiliation but I can definitely learn some lessons about work and business including how to work in a team, how to have conviction, how to focus on the customer, how to influence and negotiate with others and importantly how not to behave in work situations.

It is perhaps not surprising that Learndirect (a leading nationwide UK supplier of learning programmes) quickly launched a DVD-Rom of training programmes based on "The Apprentice" on the themes of leadership and management, negotiating and selling, pitching and presenting. I don't have any statistics but I would presume that this learning solution is very popular.

I am not a trained HR professional and from an HR point of view there are bound to be flaws in "The Apprentice" style of recruiting - for a start it encourages the arrogant and self confident to come forward. What about people with other characteristics and skills which are not so TV friendly but vitally important to business such as loyalty and quietly achieving? Having said that, the programme does provide a window on the whole recruitment process - particularly from how candidates prepare and how they come across in their dealings with others.

So what about Series 4 speicifically?

If the series to date is anything to go by, there will still be surprises. Some candidates have a strong tendency to put the proverbial foot in it. For instance what was Jenny Celerier thinking in the greeting card task by effectively pushing the team to except her idea for an environmental card and then during the pitch, admitting that she bought less cards for green reasons. Or what about, Lindi and Jennifer's poor planning and pitching during the laundry task when they had no idea of costs and off the top of the their heads came up with the idea for a telephone hotline to the laundry!

Who will win Series 4? I am routing for Rafe and Lucinda, because they both seem to be effective leaders. Rafe, despite coming across in a very pompous manner, seems to get on well with most of the other candidates and stood up for Sara last week. Lucinda has been under-estimated in my opinion by the other candidates and I am hoping she makes her mark towards the end.

Clearly "The Apprentice" winner needs to have a strategy for applying, for being on TV, for playing their part in the tasks, being team leader, being in the boardroom and for post-Apprentice 'fame'.

Or as Tim Campbell, the winner of the Series 1 says "Being successful in business is all about the five Ps: Planning, passion, perseverance, partnership and planetary assistance - everyone needs a bit of luck. "

Wise advice!

To keep up to date with the latest on the BBC series "The Apprentice" see

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