Lord Sugar of The Apprentice

Lord Sugar

It’s only week two of The Apprentice and already the latest candidates to be Lord Sugar’s partner are irritating the hell out of me, not to mention Lord Sugar.  For the first time, there was no winner and he seemed close to firing the lot of them.

To be fair, the limited time available to the teams to create a marketing campaign including packaging, a TV commercial and a digital bus shelter ad would test any of us.

The first thing that suffers is research without which, as any marketer worth their weekend cottage in the Cotswolds knows, your campaign is mere guesswork. This has been widely known and accepted since Claude C Hopkins wrote Scientific Advertising over 90 years ago. Consequence in week two was the girls targeted people like themselves but packaged for older people and the boys decided Japanese was a selling point.

Another problem is that Lord Sugar is looking for a leader, so we end up with the classic ‘too many chiefs and not enough Indians’. In other words, they all want to run the project and most don’t want to accept someone else being in charge. In the past, winners have usually shown that they can be firm in their offer of advice but will accept the decision of the project manager and do their best to make it succeed.

Two other leadership qualities which so far have not been in evidence are the willingness to listen and the ability to delegate with clear instructions.

Confidence is something rarely lacking in Lord Sugar’s candidates but this week we saw the collapse of the women’s team leader. It was unfortunate that all the women called back into the boardroom reacted emotionally, as it played to the myth that women are unsuited to the cut-and-thrust of higher management. It isn’t wrong to cry or to admit mistakes. In fact, the macho characteristics of concealing emotion and never being wrong make for poor management.

What you do need as a leader is the confidence of your team and for that you need to appear to be confident in your ability. They will respect that you admit mistakes or that you are involved enough in your work to get emotional. But if you seem to have no idea what you are doing and show that by collapsing, you will lose respect.

For us viewers, this year’s The Apprentice is shaping up to a classic of cringe and incredulity. Roll on, week three.

This article is written by Paul Seven Lewis, owner of the marketing consultancy Seven Experience and marketing consultant to, among others, Hampshire Workspace and Theatre Royal Winchester. He was formerly Head of Marketing & Operations at The Mayflower Theatre.

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Review: Week 2 of The Apprentice
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For the first time there was no winner and Lord Sugar seemed close to firing all this year's candidates on The Apprentice.
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