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Lessons from The Apprentice

On10/ 11 /15

6 Business Lessons From The Apprentice

With the apprentice now back on our screens, Lord Sugar and his new band of hopefuls once again have the nation discussing the world of business, and what it takes to succeed.

The show may be entertaining, however amongst the characters, catastrophic task failures, and catfights, there are some useful takeaways for those looking to develop their careers. We look at some of the most useful business lessons to come out of the show, now in its 11th series.

1. Be bold and take risks where you need to

Candidates on The Apprentice need to be bold to catch Lord Sugar's attention. This is no territory for wallflowers, and hopefuls need to show they are willing to step up and put their best foot forwards.

Equally at work, we need to ensure that we put ourselves in the frame. We need to be bold and trust our instincts. If we don't push ourselves, it can prevent us from growing and learning. So be ready to stand up and take on a new challenge.

2. Learn from your mistakes
Mistakes..well the Apprentice certainly gives us plenty of these, from the mild and perhaps forgivable to the downright embarrassing. However, you may notice that it's not always the candidate who makes the mistake who gets fired.

As Lord Sugar is well aware, we all make mistakes. He's much more concerned with how the prospects respond to their failures. If a candidate can reflect on the experience, pick themselves up, and move on, this shows maturity. This is a key lesson we can apply to own working lives. Instead of worrying about making a mistake, treat each error as an opportunity to learn and improve. Ultimately, these valuable experiences will help you to develop professionally.

3. Always Plan Ahead
On countless Apprentice episodes, we see groups rushing into a task without taking the time to really consider what they are trying to achieve. Time pressure invariably gets to the candidates and they make snap-decisions without due consideration.

This is one of the quickest routes to task failure and ultimately getting fired, yet we see it time and time again! The reality is that without a proper plan, it’s almost impossible to do your best work. Initial planning is rarely wasted, so ensure you allocate sufficient time on your schedule before rushing ahead to complete a task. Also, try to explore the project from all angles and consider whether there is anything you might have missed. Whether it's buying an antique mirror or selling fish and chips, there is no doubt that preparation is key.

4. A good leader will lead from the front not dictate down
In the second program of this series, we saw a clear case of a project manager dictating down rather than proactively leading the team of girls. This provoked feelings of resentment and alienation and had a strong impact on the team’s output.

A good leader will lead from the front by setting a good example, being open minded and promoting the generation of ideas. They will also avoid direct personal criticism and focus on giving constructive feedback. Ultimately, if you want to succeed, your team have to be behind you.

5. Good communication is a must

All too often we see Apprentice hopefuls trying to ‘shout their message from the rooftops’. This tactic rarely succeeds, expect perhaps in riling Lord Sugar!

Communication is one of the most important business skills to master. This means conversing clearly, concisely and articulately. True communication must also be two-way; which means learning to learn to listen and speak in equal measure. The candidates that thrive on The Apprentice are invariably the best communicators.

6. Take Responsibility For Your Actions

On The Apprentice, we commonly see candidates trying to shift the responsibility for task failures or mistakes onto others. If you look hard enough, you can always find someone, or something else to blame.

However, shifting the blame doesn’t change the outcome. It also makes you look like you aren’t ready or willing to learn from your mistakes (see point 2). So whatever your work involves, make sure you that you take responsibility for your actions and own your tasks 100%.

7. Be Committed and Persistent
The importance of persistence cannot be underestimated. On some Apprentice tasks, we see candidates start to become dispirited and loose enthusiasm as soon as things start to go wrong. This attitude prevents them from making the best of their resources and salvaging the assignment. Things may not fall into place straight away, however giving projects your all through to completion can pay dividends. All roles bring their own challenges, and it’s persistence that makes the difference. So, when the going gets tough, don't give up!

Apprentice Advice

If you are looking to get ahead in your career, the Apprentice offers some interesting lessons. Firstly, be bold and put yourself in the frame – you may well have ideas that nobody else has thought of! Next focus on your communication skills, as these are essential for so many aspects of business.

Remember that mistakes and setbacks are inevitable; it’s how you deal with them makes the difference. Plan your work carefully, be respectful of your co-workers and focus on building positive working relationships. Above all, be 100% committed to your projects and see them through to completion.

 Keep these principles in mind and you should be able to build solid foundations for your future career.
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