The Apprentice

What The Apprentice Can Teach Us About Business

October 14th, 2014 by

We can learn a few things from this reality TV show, and most of them are about how not to do business…

Tonight, the 10th series of The Apprentice hits our TV screens. No doubt it will open in a fanfare of boasts, brags and allusions to grandeur. And, if the past audience figures are anything to go by, it will have more than 8 million of the British public hooked by the first ‘You’re Fired’.

One of the things that makes the show so watchable is the gaffs. Like the time in series 4, where Michael Sophocles attempted to sell an Aston Martin at Portobello Market.

However, it is possible to learn from the apprentices’ mistakes. The tasks they get wrong make up a sort of 101 of basic business principles. Here are a few golden rules that we can garner from The Apprentice failures of the past.

  • Research Your Market

The importance of market research was highlighted in series 7, when Susan Ma had to complete a sales task in France. Susan was filmed asking the immortal question ‘Do the French go camping? Are they very fond of their children? Do a lot of people drive in France?.

  • The Hard Sell Scares People Away

Studies show that customers are 95 percent more likely to return to a business if they have been sold to softly, than if they are given the hard sell. Evidence for this can be seen in series 4 when the same Michael Sophocles mentioned above chased a customer down the street shouting “You’re going to regret not doing it! You’ll regret it to your grave’. The customer only started walking faster.

  • Keep Your Eye On The Ball

It’s easy to have an off day in business. Everyone gets tired or rundown sometimes. Use these days to do menial tasks rather than business critical jobs. In series 5, Yasmina Siadatan, took her eye off the ball and ended up ordering sandalwood instead of cedarwood in a beauty products task. The former cost £1,200 per kilo as opposed to £26.

  • Don’t Neglect The Branding

When you’ve got finance, suppliers, and staff to organise, it can be hard to find time to work on your business branding. In reality, though, branding can make or break a business. Point and case for this were shown in series 7 during a task where the candidates had to develop a fast food business. Team Venture decided on a Mexican product, then came up with the idea to call the business Caracas – the capital of Venezuela. Needless to say, the team lost the task and team member Natasha was fired.

  • Know Your Target Audience

Whatever your business, you need to know how you’re working with. The Apprentice team Evolve discovered this in series nine, after creating a series of ready meals for kids called Deadly Dinners. They did their market research with school children, who couldn’t get enough of the brand. However, the children weren’t really their target audience – their parents were. The adults with the buying power hated the idea of buying food for their children that was emblazoned with deathly skulls. As a result, Evolve lost their task and Alex Mills was fired.

Catch The Apprentice on BBC1 tonight at 9pm, and the second show tomorrow night. 



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