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After 18 months away The Apprentice is back on our screens.

The first episode of the new series celebrated 10 years of The Apprentice. The task was to complete 10 years’ of sales in one day (they had to sell products featured in the previous years’ opening shows). The teams made something in the region of £1200 each which doesn’t sound too bad for a day’s work. It’s on a par with rates charged by professional services such as consultants and accountants.

Until that is, you work out, as my friend did, that there were 10 people in each team so that works out as around £120 day rate. Not looking quite worth the £250K investment on offer just yet then.

It seems early days to get into the rights and wrongs and personality bashing of individual contestants. We’ve only seen them for an hour. We’ve grimaced at their one liner personal mission statements (one of them predictably claimed to be able to sell ice to the Eskimos – more on that below), watched the girls give women in business a bad name by squabbling all the way through and the boys fight to be alpha male.

Nothing new there then.

I did find myself slightly unnerved by Felipe’s (Project Manager of the boys’ team) constant reference to himself in the third person but I’ve let him off after reading that he is passionate about social entrepreneurship. I was nothing short of uncomfortable watching the boys’ team attempt to make a scapegoat out of Steven, the Canadian social worker who was the only one to point out that they needed to sell the high value T-shirt item Lord Sugar had strategically provided for them. Yes, he was mildly irritating. Steven was a little louder, slightly more pushy and substantially more talkative than his fellow Brits. But I suspect he wouldn’t have irritated a field of fellow North Americans quite so much. Perhaps I’m wrong. Anyway, irritating or not, absolutely no reason to bring him into the board room and certainly not to have him fired. Thankfully Felipe came to his senses and chose to bring Chiles (leader of the sub team who didn’t listen to Steven) and the chap whose idea it was to posh up hot dogs, (which meant they wasted over an hour shopping in an organic food store losing out on prime lunch-time sales).

35 year old Chiles, the chap who considered himself to be the most credible candidate (and on paper he does indeed appear to fit the bill) got fired, which I thought was a shame. 36 year old Nurun, owner of 3 businesses and full time marketing manager looks one to watch, although I may be slightly biased as anyone over 35 gets my vote.

What lesson can we take from the Apprentice (Of course accepting that The Apprentice is, after all, an entertainment show and all lessons should be taken with a pinch of salt).

Know Your Strengths!

In my humble opinion the boys lost the task because they didn’t sell the T shirts they shelled out £500 for.  The girls were lucky. The girl’s team made no attempt to divvy up the tasks according to their skills, strengths or experience (although Roisin, the 32 year old Accountant forgot to ask for the seed money to take with them to buy the T shirts – oops).

Sarah was project manager. As a PA, volunterring for the only ‘management’ role proved a bit of stretch. I couldn’t help wonder if she might have been better suited to a role that better utilised her organisational skills. She has apparently set up her own hypnotherapy practice on Harley Street though so we shall have to wait and see what other strengths come to the surface. She certainly didn’t seem able to hypnotise the other ladies into liking her or listening to her.

But bless them. They are here to stay for 12 glorious weeks. I shall become hooked as ever, spend my time thinking that of course I could do better and disagreeing with half of the Lord Sugar’s firings.

Just like every year.

Can’t wait.

And it’s on again tonight!

P.S Here’s a selection of my favourite personal statements for this year

Mark, 24 – “I’m very, very aggressive. I will not leave the room without getting a sale.”

Only a 24 year old would think that being aggressive is a positive trait. Us oldies (that would be anyone over 30) of course, know better.

Solomon, 22 – “I am from the ‘ideas generation’; because of my age I understand technology and how to turn it into a business.”

Oh dear it’s the age card again.  How did he think the technology got here? Were his generation designing it from their pushchairs?

Me thinks not!

I wonder how Bill Gates feels about that?

Oops, I’ve just had to stop and get the Tipex to erase a mistake I made on my rusty old typewriter before I send off my blog post to someone from the ideas generation who knows how to harness technology for my business so that you can read this.

Steven – “I can deliver in minus 50; I can deliver in plus 10. If we went to Mars right now, I’d find a way to be excellent.

Eh?

I think he’s talking about minus 50 degrees since he has worked in Antarctica but I’m not quite sure what the plus 10 is (dress size?) and have no idea what any of that has to do with Mars. Perhaps he should ask Katie, a fitness instructor who compares herself to a stealth bomber.  Have they put all the aerospace references in just for me? How kind!

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? Think you could do a better job? Do you run your own business and get exasperated watching them? Or do you sympathise with the way they are thrust into the lion’s den that is Lord sugar’s boardroom.  As usual let me know by posting a comment below!

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