Can The Apprentice help your career?

Surely it isn’t only me who can say that they are excited for The Apprentice to air this Thursday?! Why do I like it so much? I hear you ask? Well, it is like being a fly on the wall in an assessment centre for three months. Candidates are split into two teams who then go onto complete tasks to demonstrate their business skills. The winning team is rewarded with a treat, while the losing team has to face Lord Sugar in the boardroom for a ferocious grilling. Ultimately, one of them gets fired.

Watching 16 candidates trying their hardest to make a good impression while battling for survival is very entertaining, it is also brilliant for picking up dos and don’ts for your own career. So, here we go:

1)    Don’t be over confident. Being over confident can be detrimental. Candidates on The Apprentice are given every opportunity to sing their own praises and each does so with great gusto! While this is entertaining for a viewer there are serious lessons to be learnt. Their exuberant confidence often leads to over-promising on a task, makes them less likeable and they get so big-headed they find it difficult to listen to other people’s ideas. What we can learn from the show is that those who succeed have an air of confidence about them without being overbearing and downright annoying, so be that person.

2)    Be a team player. Success in your career nearly almost always depends on your ability to be an effective team player. It is really important to recognise that sometimes you have to play a specific role, you may be asked to lead and other times you may be asked to work in the background. On The Apprentice we see time and time again individual candidates that ignore that given role and aim for a “better” position. This goes on to create tension within the team and has a negative impact on task delivery. A good team player can lead when required but ultimately puts the team’s objectives above their own.

3)  Pull your weight. People that are successful in their career make sure they pull their weight and contribute effectively to any task they take part in. On The Apprentice we see candidates just stand back or hide in the background. For some candidates it is their game plan. It is key that you get involved in tasks, take on some risks and responsibility and get noticed for our input.

4) Be likeable. Candidates that get promoted and move up in their careers are generally well liked by others. It is much harder to fire someone you really like and have built a relationship with. Each year on The Apprentice we see one or two candidates who rub everyone up the wrong way. It’s often their downfall, especially when it comes to confronting Lord Sugar in the board room – fellow candidates gang up on the ones they don’t like, even if they have performed well. It’s crucial to form good relationships with your colleagues. Be friendly, helpful and interested in other people… and not just those in management but colleagues performing different roles across the organisation.

5) Speak up. If you think something is not going right or could be done better then say so – don’t just watch your team fail in silence and then lay blame. 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. On The Apprentice we see candidates fired for claiming (after the event) that they would have done things differently. It’s important to contribute your opinion while there’s still a chance to influence the outcome. However, if you can’t convince the other team members that your idea is a good one then take it on the nose. Sometimes you have to admit defeat and just continue to be a great team player regardless.

6) Don’t forget the task at hand. Successful candidates remain on task – they always have the team objective at the forefront of their minds. Those who take their eyes off the ball and focus too much on promoting themselves or standing out from the crowd often end up getting fired because they failed to focus on the important issue and got side-tracked with less important or even trivial or counter-productive elements of the task. Many tasks on The Apprentice involve making more money or profit than the other team – the candidates and teams that make decisions always with this objective in mind normally do very well.

7) Don’t lie. Every year on The Apprentice we bear witness to candidates who have ‘stretched’ the truth in their application forms and CVs… e.g. the candidate who went to university (but only stayed for four months). There is sometimes a fine line between creatively promoting yourself and telling blatant lies. In my opinion honesty is the best policy as a little bit of digging and one or two phone calls will very quickly reveal the truth.

So, there we have it. Seven insightful tips from The Apprentice that can help you be more successful in your career!


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