As we approach Episode 5, which marks being halfway through the work tasks in BBC1’s The Apprentice, I wanted to review some key learnings to date. With 16 entrepreneurs vying for Lord Sugar’s £250,000 and living together in close quarters, you can imagine almost every second something new arises – which makes the experience ripe for takeaways.
Here are my top 5 to date:
- Be confident in what you know: during Episode 2 (comic books) most of my team were apprehensive about my approach to pitching; however, I’ve been pitching to the world’s biggest brands for my entire career. Even though my own project manager disagreed with my proposed approach, I managed to convince my sub-team and my sub-team leader to let me do my thing. Because we don’t get the actual results until the boardroom, it was clear that even after the pitch not everyone agreed with me. However, the results spoke for themselves when WH Smith purchased 10,000 copies – which was a huge result for our team and far outsold the other team who landed zero copies ordered from the same pitch. It is important to remember what you know well and be confident in your ability and skill set. I truly believe that confidence is a huge part of business success, but it’s even more helpful if you have the skills to back it up.
- Don’t pretend to know what you don’t know: conversely, in Episode 3 (donuts) I ended up saying something to a client that was incredibly embarrassing and wrong – saying I had gone to their opening two years ago, when it transpires that the restaurant had been opened for ten (full article on my embarrassing moment so kindly written by The Daily Star here) . Despite what other people might have thought, this was just a complete mistake – I had been to a party there two years ago and the person who brought me mentioned it was a “launch”. I clearly mistook that as a launch for the restaurant when it must have been a launch for a drinks brand. I blame it on the cocktails. Regardless, when on The Apprentice we don’t have access to the internet to fact-check, but in real life, you absolutely need to get your facts straight before you go into any meeting or pitch with a potential client. The more you know about their organisation, the better prepared you will be to make the sale.
- Don’t wallow in your mistakes: everyone makes mistakes so don’t beat yourself up about it. Just acknowledge the mistake, try and fix it if possible, and most importantly try and learn from your mistakes so you can avoid them in the future.
- Don’t expect everyone to behave the same way you would: I have always had a hard time with this, but with The Apprentice this was even less forgiving and was laid bare for all to see on Episode 1 in the boardroom. Without going into details and show secrets, the boardroom in Episode 1 erupted across our team because of differing motivations for everyone involved. Not everyone will react the same when put on the spot and you need to be prepared to see people at their worst when backed up into a corner. This is especially true for office politics and career progression. Getting to know your colleagues will help reduce any potential fall out and it’s important to know everyone’s motivations before you try and advance and ask for a raise.
- Everyone reads situations differently: with over 8 million people watching the same episode each week, it astounds me how different everyone’s views of the same episode are. A huge testament that people’s personal experiences direct their opinions. Don’t take things personally if not everyone agrees with you.