Can we really learn anything new from the Apprentice? Je dit NON!
Does anyone else have Apprentice fatigue or is it just me? (Perhaps just those of us who promised to post a blog on the subject every week? It did seem like a good idea at the time!). 7 weeks in it’s becoming clear that what we can learn about business from the programme boils down to a core of a few hard and fast rules that we can all benefit from applying. Unfortunately the candidates don’t seem to realise that and keep making the same mistakes time and time again! These rules are as follows:
- Know your market and create your products and services with their needs in mind
- Conduct, and act upon, market research
- Recognise when to negotiate and how far you can go
- Know your industry
- Understand cost and value and that they are not always the same thing
- The importance of planning
- The importance of strong leadership and decision making
The mistakes of the losing team, generally speaking, boil down to a failure to stick to at least one of the rules above. This week Tom’s team broke rules 1, 2, 4 and 7 although Melody’s mistake was not so much failing to conduct market research but failing to conduct sufficiently representative market research (only speaking to 4 people, all of whom were in a train station and concluding that everybody in France travels exclusively by train!) and then deliberately feeding back misleading results to secure the product that she wanted! Tom failed on Rule 7 but in his defence, had he railroaded every other member of his team into choosing a product that they didn’t like he would have been criticised for his dictatorial style of leadership so he couldn’t win (which seems appropriate for Tom!).
The winning team did so in such a spectacular style because they stuck to Rule 1. They knew in advance that they would be pitching to a massive retailer who was very well established in the family market and chose their product and targeted their pitch with this in mind. The result – an order worth over £200,000!
Of course, because of the way they edit the programme we never know who we’re supposed to be criticising and shaking our heads at until the end: whatever they’re doing could equally be defined as madness or genius – we only know which one to apply when we hear the result. Only at that point can we go back and say ‘yes I knew he/she was an idiot’ or ‘I said he/she was brilliant’. That is why the programme is so flawed from a business point of view and is in fact, [of course] just an entertainment show.
There, I said it. I realise that I promised to share with you lots of business tips and lessons from the Apprentice but I fear we may have learned all there is to learn from Lord Sugar and his cast of panto characters. I anticipate that the remainder of the run will just be a merry-go-round of breaking the 7 rules we already know about over and over again and using their own idiocy to play into the producers’ hands. I feel I’ve let you down in some way, promising the undeliverable. *sighs*
The Apprentice is not about business, it’s about entertainment and vive la difference!
It is for that reason that I’m out (sorry, confusing my BBC business shows there!). I am quitting the ‘Apprentice inspired blog’ business subject to them finding a new rule to break. I am in fact firing myself!
(Actually the things I did learn from this week were that you can get by in France by speaking like the policeman from Allo Allo – “good moaning” – and that scissor paper stone is a valid method of decision making – genius!). You know I love it really!