7 Reasons Why I Hate The Apprentice

I love The Apprentice. It is great and entertaining TV. It gets us all talking at home and in the office – especially the rights and wrongs of ‘skeletongate.’

But, there are 7 reasons why, as a small business owner, I hate The Apprentice.

1)  The image it gives business owners – most of the participants, come over as bullish and arrogant.  It implies that what you need is to bully everyone else, fight the competition and not care who you stand on. The contestants who shout loudest about being sales people seem to think the way to get sales is to bully and lie – in fact do anything to get a sale. In most of the tasks this approach seems to be what wins.

2) Lack of Teamwork – All the contestants want to lead, they wouldn’t enter if they didn’t. This means many of them are not suited to working as a team. Thus, there is rarely any proper feel of sensible delegation and cooperation. In any business you have to collaborate. This may be with customers, employees or external contractors. The project manager/business owner cannot know everything. They have to accept that and employ people to fill the gaps. No business can survive without building rapport with people both within and outside the business. You need the word of mouth fans and supporters of your business. For many small business owners the selling point is them – why do people choose me to work with? Because of who I am.

3) Lack of Business Sustainability – many of the tasks are based on who makes the biggest profit. This means that the team that advertises a ‘gourmet lunch,’ but buys the cheapest possible food and no drink, wins because they have the most profit. Business needs repeat custom and good reviews – I would certainly have been complaining loudly about the food on the coach trip to Oxford. Perhaps measuring the tasks on the comments on Trip Advisor might be a more accurate measurement of the long-term success of the business. Few businesses can make a profit in just one day – after all, if it were that easy we’d all be millionaires!

4) Artificial Tasks – Of course it is entertainment, but there is no way does any business do their research, product development, design and selling in one or two days. In reality product development can take months or years. In addition, everything is “set up” – it would take an very long time or most businesses to get in front of the big companies. These tasks give a false impression of how difficult it is to get a product to market…… which brings me on to

5) Initiative – Creative thinking, ideas, approaching problems from a different perspective is how new business ideas come about. From watching Filipe’s dismissal for ‘Skeleton gate’ Lord Sugar clearly does not want to reward creative and lateral thinking. If I work with people I want people who are creative and take the initiative. Sometimes that decision may be wrong, but someone with that type of flair should never be punished as severely as was the whole team and, ultimately, Filipe.

6) Lack of Imagination – I am always so disappointed with many of the business proposals. On-line dating, on-line events, and so on. Nearly all the proposals are service based. There’s few new products. Where are the businesses looking at solving the problems of the environment or  the ageing population. Where are the inventors and manufacturers? Do people in these areas not apply, are they selected out or do they not exist?

7) Lack of Knowledge and Preparation There are areas of ignorance that never fail to amaze me: how could Katie not know how expensive saffron is for instance? But it is in business planning that the candidates seem to be particularly hopeless. How sad was it that the lovely Solomon’s business plan was pictures of his logo? And how surprising that the totally capable Roisin, an accountant, was so over ambitious. Surely the candidates must know how to write a business plan. I know that sometimes the best ones are written on the back of an envelope, but equally if you are bidding for money it needs to be written up into a comprehensive plan. Have they not watched the previous years episodes?

And so to the result…. I’ve loved watching Mark all the way through. He’s a charmer. He gets his own way, but in the nicest possible way. You just know that he’ll develop strong loyalty from clients and staff. It is a business he knows and there is a huge market for it. He had to win the final.

But, a little bit of me is sad. Once again (like recruitment) it is a safe business. It would have been nice to see Bianca win as a reward for someone  developing an innovative product. She has seen a huge gap in the market and found a solution to a problem. I really hope she does get her investment.


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