Image source: KingOfTheMedia, via Wikimedia Commons
Hands sweating, eyes down and shoulders tensed Lord Sugar’s business wannabes walk into his boardroom anxiously awaiting their fate.
The Apprentice is back on our screens and, since hiring and firing’s the name of the game, here at Businesscomparison.com we’ve compiled a list of some of the important workplace skills highlighted by British business magnate Lord Alan Sugar during his search for an apprentice.
Ruth Badger from series two is still thought of by many as the best Apprentice candidate ever. The Wolverhampton management executive showed Lord Sugar her outright drive and determination when she sold six second-hand cars during a task. Viewers around the country were outraged when she was pipped to the prize by Michelle Dewberry in 2006.
2. The ability to think before you speak
Perhaps the most prominent example of what not to say can be found in the archives of series 10 with motor mouth James Hill. His verbal diarrhoea led him to claim, “Me and Lord Sugar could build an empire together. I think I am him when he was my age.” Added to that were his dubious business claims which included completely fabricating a RRP. Needless to say, he was shown the door. It’s worth noting here that his downfall in business appeared to be the making of him in entertainment as James won Celebrity Big Brother in September 2015.
This was a quality that Lord Alan Sugar found seriously lacking in candidate Paul Tulip from series two. The head-hunter from Leeds became increasingly big headed as the series went on. He said that he thought Big Issue sellers were ‘lazy’ and was caught out in the interview round when he admitted he didn’t know what Lord Sugar’s companies did. Oh dear!
4. Good timing/ seizing the moment
Despite cheesy quotes like “It’s hard to fly like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys,” Mark Wright from series 10 worked tirelessly to sell seven hot tubs to one man! He impressed Lord Sugar and went on to win the series in 2014.
5. Ability to build positive working relationships
Throughout the history of The Apprentice this has been a challenge for many of the candidates and their egos and has often contributed to their downfall. However, perhaps the most unwilling team player was Tre Azam from series 3. He was viewed by many as a megalomaniac. This was demonstrated by a famous exchange with Rory Laing about the difference between a boss and a project manager – Rory: “I am your boss!” Tre: “You’re nothing to me.”
6. Being able to articulate oneself
With nowhere to hide in the boardroom the ability to stand your ground verbally in front of Lord Alan Sugar has been a key feature of the candidate’s success or failure. No one has been able to do this more convincingly than Katie Hopkins. Love her or loathe her, the former military trainee certainly knew how to get her point across in series three. Hopkins rejected an offer of a place in the final of the show and withdrew from the competition at the end of the penultimate task because of childcare issues.
7. Hard graft
Ricky Martin from series 8 went from a class clown with comments like, “I’m like a shark, right at the top of the food chain. I take what I want, when I want. I truly am the reflection of perfection” to a class act. Described by mentor, Karen Brady as the one who had changed and improved the most through the process, the former wrestler went on to become Lord Alan Sugar’s apprentice and set up a specialist science recruitment company.
Proving herself to be a mathematical whizz as well as a qualified doctor helped Leah Totton became Lord Alan Sugar’s apprentice in 2013. She has since continued to work as a locum and set up the Dr Leah Clinic for cosmetic surgery. Speaking after her win Lord Sugar said, “Leah is a very focused, highly professional, intelligent individual. She is also a fully-qualified doctor.”