How to win the Apprentice
I’ve been taking notes for the past ten years of what exactly, Lord Sugar is looking for as his next business partner. I’ve boiled down my notes to 30 general tips, I’ve also listed the various tasks and how to succeed, a Psychology lesson and finish this post with ultimate tips to become the next Apprentice.
Auditioning – Let this be an opportunity to let yourself shine – Look through the lens and tell the viewer’s at home why you should be hired – Smile, Good posture and Eye contact. When Lord Sugar sees the video he’ll have a good impression of you before you even step in to the boardroom.
Get yourself a catchphrase – They might be quirky and lame but they build a bond with the viewer; they bring the real you out. You don’t have to continuously brag on about it but when you’ve achieved something, you can use it to parr your teammates, i.e “everything I touch turns to sold.”
First boardroom – If you’re asked a Question or a comment is made about you- go along with it and laugh- don’t let your first impression be of an emotional wreck!
Project leader – Time again we have seen the Project manager gets a thrashing especially on the boys team. Women are friendly and work well together in the first few rounds but the Men are a pack of wolves. If you’re a bloke then stay down. But know this, if you’re the team leader and you win- you can carry that appraisal throughout the show! For ladies, you should focus more on organisation, place the right people in the right places.
Objectives – Successful candidates always have the team objective at the forefront of their mind. If your job is to sell then sell with the highest margins, if your job is to pitch then let your pitch flow fluently.
Contribute – Always contribute some effective relevant information and advice. Keep the objective in mind and fire at your team to improve and reach the goal quickly. Even if you lose, your contribution will shine. When there’s no real blameworthy person, the PM turns to the least contributory person.
Be Confident, but not too confident! – Be confident in your own ability and achievements but don’t make false claims and promises. If you screw up, the consequences are far worse. Time again candidates say they can sell to anyone but the truth says otherwise. Be Confident and humble – A balance that is hard to get correct, you must be self-assured and assured of your business idea, but without being arrogant.
Backseat – It was possible to stay behind the scenes a few years ago, but in recent episodes candidates are getting pulled up. Make sure you’re at the forefront at all times. But then again, it is an easy way to climb the ladder. You enter the process to win it, so if you’re playing games, I don’t blame you, just make sure you have a fall-back position.
Enthusiasm – Complete all tasks your project leader gives to you with as much enthusiasm and creativity as possible. This way, if your team loses the round, you can always use it as a fall back. Project managers do not usually blame the team members who followed their direction because it makes them look bad. That being said, if the project manager makes a totally illogical decision, use your initiative and go ahead with your own decision.
Sub-team Leader – If done as told, you can ensure you won’t be in the firing line. It’s easier to manage 2 or 3 people, so as long as you delegate tasks and communicate effectively, your job is done.
Be a team player – It is important to recognise that sometimes you have a specific role to play within a team. Sometimes you might be required to lead and sometimes you will be asked to work in the background organising things or delivering specific sub-tasks. You may feel useless but this can be a place where you can shine without being instructed- excel in your job and show that if it wasn’t for you the task would collapse.
Advice – Asking to be spoon fed can sometimes look bad but asking for advice is never bad. Be sure to get advice from your team mates along the way especially with the controversial decisions. But there are them times where you’ve got to go with your gut instinct, do it but make sure it’s the right decision!
Likeable – Be likeable but not a bullshitter. Those who are attentive and polite usually do well with everyone, you become approachable. Then there are those who look to please everyone by false promises and basically a blag, don’t be one of them. But remember to put your put down when you need to, you’re not there to be a door mat.
Speak up – Don’t watch your team fail in silence, speak up and alter the situation. Only then you can say you did all you could. Make sure you put your point across but accept it if the team decides to go in a different direction to the one you think is best.
Fact Find – During the task, make sure you gather information on how your team members are doing, especially if they are not doing well. This will be beneficial if your team loses and you’re left in the board room. Think about what the colleague is not doing to achieve the best in his task.
Firing Seat – If you are in the firing seat, think of three points or keywords as to why you should stay in the process, then pick out 2 flaws of the other two candidates. Start by bringing up the weakest person’s flaw and then point out two of your positives. After the comeback (or lack of) fire the second flaw and bring the convo back to yourself, make yourself sound like a star.
It can be a good idea to pick at Lord Sugars successes and say how you understand and relate and what you’re doing right now is similar.
Kick him when he’s down – In the boardroom, never interrupt Lord Sugar. Let him degrade the other candidate until that person has no ounce of self-respect left. Then add your 2 cents to send him 6 foot under.
Prepare an elevator pitch – If you get the ‘Why should I hire you?’ question, you need to reply on your feet. Have three positive qualities ready straight away then back each with an example. You need to make Lord Sugar think he’ll regret firing you.
Guilty – Admit any fault, don’t deflect, Lord Sugar hates deflectors. You can admit faults but show how you have reconciled in this task or how you tried to rectify a situation. Show that you have a desire to continue even after fail.
Blagging – Blagging is an essential skill in business Most will deny it but initiative and a fast paced mind are absolutely key! But in order to do this effectively one must master:
Listening – Listening is a very important lesson – In one task James forgot the clients name and lost the sale. Business is a two-way street, everyone is in it for their own ends, in order to reach your end, you must convince the person you will help them reach theirs.
Mirroring – Adapt yourself to any situation, talking to the customer or business target in a way that matches their style of communication and level of understanding is important. To some ‘targets’ you can use certain language, banter, or charm, others you must use understanding and reasoning.
Listen to the experts – On more than one occasion, Katie was advised by experts to go easy on the saffron when she was creating the desserts, but despite openly admitting she is no chef, carried on regardless.
Be situational – You’re always going to get random people, random thoughts and random comebacks. Be prepared to accept and work with others as oppose to being afraid of influence. This can benefit you in the boardroom as someone who can make informed decisions and continue to lead a team.
Understand your market – Your Market analysis may disagree with your product, but never has Lord Sugar disagreed with them, always take their advice on board. But give it a twist, make it like it’s your decision or make it like it was where you were heading anyway.
Delegation – Be able to delegate appropriately; put the creative people on branding, the blaggers on to selling and the precise people to do the numbers and structure.
The PDRS system is a psychological framework that outlines 4 main personality types. It is said every one of usbelongs to a certain type though it is possible to rotate or carry a percentage of another personality type but everyone will have a default position. Nevertheless it is important to know where you lie and the best approach around your competitors. I’ll briefly explain below:
- Precise – Logical, Organised, Methodical – i.e. Velma from Scooby Doo
- Precise people seem to be introverted and logical
- They are looking for clarification and precision before continuing so you need to be supportive
- Decisive – Direct, Dominant, Independent, Competitive – i.e. Fred from Scooby Doo
- Decisive people seem to be extroverted and authoritative
- They only want the bullet points of the issue, they want to lead the conversation and want you to reassure them so be resourceful (to an extent) but also supportive
- Supportive – Patient, Sympathetic, Mature, Considerate – i.e. Daffney from Scooby Doo
- Supportive people seem to be introverted but very warming and emotional
- They will need clarification and their options laid out so be decisive but not forceful, show that you can empathise.
- Resourceful – Ideas person, Waffles, Influential, Optimistic – i.e. Shaggy from Scooby Doo or Delboy
- Resourceful people seem to be Extroverted and emotional as in the easily connect with people.
- Resourceful – They look for the solution instantly and vary in ideas but may not commit so be resourceful back, get on their level but also decisive to lay your decision.
Think about previous the Apprentice series, each candidate has a fall-back position, from the onset it can be difficult to tell since adrenaline is high but after week 4, true colours appear.
From my analysis, those who are majorly precise tend to win the apprentice, they also have the ability to be supportive i.e. team player, be decisive i.e. make crucial decisions and lead and be resourceful i.e. come up with ideas and think out of the box. So make sure you are someone who is organised and precise but when the time is right, be supportive, resourceful and decisive!
The type of Tasks
Here is a list of tasks, think about the objectives, think of new ideas and work on your transferable skills to succeed!
- Selling junk and large stock – The focus is bulk sales because the margins are low
- Sell on a market – buy and sell with limited budget, this is the job for the sales men
- Introduce a product – make, brand and market to retailers
- Purchase a set list of ten items, negotiating for lower prices
- Set up a food stall/van
- Produce a short promo video or TV advert
- Sell second hand goods and junk, find the people who really want it
- Provide a tour service
- Design some modern technology or design an app
- Use video, YouTube and radio to promote products
- Design a board game or a toy for kids and babies.
- Advertise a product like a soft drink
- Choose several products from a list then sell at a festival/exhibition
- Select an artist and sell their work in an art gallery.
- Devise and run a themed food day, or run a restaurant or provide a catering service.
- Create a flavour of food i.e. crisps then sell to retailers and manufactures.
- International – brand a product or treasure hunt
- Organise corporate away days for two major clients.
- Communicate well using a good strong vocabulary
- Be a walking CV
- Get the extroverted bullshitters to do the pitches
- Get the creative and a classy person to do the branding
- Don’t be a ‘know it all’, don’t raise unnecessary expectations.
- Don’t be annoying & irritating
- Don’t be someone who bottles out
- Remember millions of people watch this show, thousands of employers and head hunters- make sure you’re marketing yourself on the sly. You could earn £60k potentially.
- Tell the Truth – From your CV to other claims, it’s evident that you will get found out. A deceitful person never goes too well with Lord Sugar.
- Know your numbers inside out – Someone needs to keep a track of the finances and budgeting. It’s a must! – Ratios, percentage changes, deductions and other business calculations.
- Emotions – Control your emotions!
- Always present yourself as a capable leader and hard worker- never the obedient passenger.
- Compose yourself – Don’t treat winning like you would a football match
Finally, I must say that, if you’ve gone ahead and googled this article then I don’t think you have it to be the apprentice. Them sorta people have a natural acumen. It’s what shines thru in them last few weeks. If you need help or are stuck then i suggest you continue with your job!