The Apprentice – 10 year’s of selling (Episode 1)
So the Apprentice Series 10 kicked off this week with a bang!
In a special 10 year twist it was unveiled that the competition would now start with 10 men and 10 women (four more than previous years); however, it would still last for the customary 12 rounds. This should increase the chances of a credible individual being selected at the end of the process but more importantly provide four more opportunities for Lord Sugar to waggle his index finger and utter those infamous words; “You’re Fired”.
For the third year running the prize is a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar, for a 50% stake in the winner’s business. This should (in theory) mean the candidates now represent some of the greatest entrepreneurial minds today. For the next 12 weeks, candidates ranging from a burlesque dancer to a quiz salesman will be split into groups and put through a variety of tasks, for Lord Sugar to evaluate who will provide the best return on his investment.
Very early on in the episode, Lord Sugar explains to the candidates that they will be expected to run their own company as he will not be holding their hands along the way. This means he wants to find someone who is an effective and well-rounded leader to drive all aspects of a successful business. The dynamics of today’s business environment means that change is now the only constant, and leaders have to grapple with an increasingly fast-paced world where Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) is the new normal. Interestingly two of these words could also be used to quite accurately describe Lord Sugar himself, I will leave you to decide which.
When the chips are down it is the organisations and individuals that are equipped to handle the ever increasing challenges of the VUCA environment that will thrive and succeed. a&dc’s LIVED™ model is ideally suited to identifying and developing leaders who can deliver tangible business results and shine in a VUCA world. We will, therefore, use this model to evaluate the potential candidates and as objectively as possible look to unpick Lord Sugar’s selection of his latest victim.
As with previous seasons, we kicked off with a classic battle of the sexes and each group were asked to pick a team manager. Felipe was appointed project manager for the men and Sarah for the women. The first task was all about selling, but not content with any of the previous selling tasks, this time they had the full range of products to shift from previous series, creating more opportunity to lose money…..and dignity. Sarah did not receive huge praise for her efforts and had a very lucky escape as her team outsold the boys by a margin of roughly £50 to remove her head from the chopping block. And even though Felipe’s team was unsuccessful, before they realised they had lost they were very happy with his style of leadership. It was, in fact, sub-team leader Chiles who faced the boot, which was somewhat surprising considering the whole team appeared to have decided Simon was at fault, but great news for fans of people who speak about themselves in the third person.
So, why did Chiles get the boot?
Chiles’ demonstrated a lack of Intellect with the t-shirt printing task. As you watch the group jogging towards the printers, Chiles announced “We haven’t even got the t-shirts guys”. The group then sprint back to the van together to pick up a box of t-shirts, along with everything else that had to sell, that they could carry. When they arrive at the printers Chiles decides that they should all take 30 seconds to think of an idea, which leaves you to wonder what they were talking about during the car journey to the printers and their pre-meeting warm-up. Unsurprisingly the ideas are all rubbish and they end up going with quite possibly the worst idea in the history of ideas; a t-shirt with the slogan “Buy this T-Shirt”. However, this was all irrelevant as later on Chiles announces that he has “made a fundamental decision” to go to the balloon shop as they couldn’t afford to wait around for the t-shirts to print. If only there was some way of making some money with those buckets and sponges whilst waiting. This ultimately meant the t-shirts were left with the printers, which was an unforgivable decision from Lord Sugar’s perspective.
Chiles also demonstrated a lack of Drive throughout the whole task. He did not appear to take any of the opportunities to pitch so, as pointed out by Karren, he “did not contribute £1 in sales”. He showed enthusiasm and commitment to his own ideas but was not to be committed to the success of the group. For example, when James was trying to offload the “Paris Mipers” possibly named due to their association with French fries, the camera panned to Chiles who did not even appear to be listening let alone ready to jump in and correct James, albeit no one really did.
You might actually say this was a conscious decision from Chiles and therefore a lack of Values, or more specifically integrity, not necessarily Drive. I would guess that this view would be one shared by Nick Hewer, who was on hand to offer the most scathing of reviews for Chiles and perhaps the nail in the coffin that Lord Sugar needed. Nick felt that Steven was being used as a scapegoat and seemed to attribute Chiles for this, explaining to the innocent Felipe that “it might well be in Chiles’ best interest to pass the blame off on somebody else”.
It, therefore, appears that Chiles did not have the Intellect to make the insightful decisions required from Lord Sugar, the Values to act with integrity expected from Nick Hewer and the necessary Drive for results in Karren Brady’s eyes.
Author: Ross McGarrigle
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