Do you have the right personality to win The Apprentice?

Dec 13, 2017

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Every year, a group of ambitious businesspeople go into a boardroom with Alan Sugar and complete various tasks in order to impress him and secure £250,000 in investment. Sometimes these challenges seem to be designed purely for the viewers’ entertainment, but they certainly stretch the candidates to each and every limit. As we are getting ready for The Apprentice 2017 final this week, here’re our thoughts on the process to date and the sensational winner prediction…

Striding through corporate central London to Prokofiev, it’s tradition for the contestants to make extremely bold claims about themselves:

“I’ve got everything Lord Sugar needs in a business partner.”“Intimidation is what motivates me.”“I’m usually the smartest person in the room and I’ll make sure people know that.”

There seem to be quite a few things that don’t impress Lord Sugar, and a lot of candidates walk right into his jaws when their boasting disintegrates. This inevitably dominates his opinion until that finger finally points at them or they manage to prove him wrong. So what kind of traits and tactics would help you sail through those boardroom interrogations?

You’re willing to fight your corner, even if you’re not totally in the right…

Sometimes contestants are summoned to the boardroom because they have royally messed up. If Lord Sugar really can’t see himself working with you, he might even do a rare triple firing like he did to Charles, Andrew and Anisa in week 8.

Sometimes you can be hauled into the boardroom for just not being noticeable enough, just like Bushra. Could there be a more defeating sentence than “I don’t think you’ve done much in these last nine weeks”? Nine weeks, Bushra. NINE.

Whether you’re project manager, or the project manager’s making you share the blame, you need to be able to argue your own position and stick to it firmly. Lord Sugar’s not going to pat someone on the back for dignified silence, but he might respond if you’re adamant enough that the blame falls on someone else.

This method isn’t going to let you sail straight through to the final, but it delays the chop. Harrison could “talk well” in the words of his Lordship, and hung on as long as he could, but his lack of sales were too significant to talk his way out of in week 10. Still, talking your way through 10 whole weeks is pretty good if you’re in it for the exposure.

Temporarily, you’re a ‘Jack of all trades’

Designing hotel rooms, building a prototype robot, and running a corporate box in the space of a few weeks? Not many business people have to demonstrate quite as much flexibility as series 13’s candidates have, and in front of some very imposing industry experts too.

It’s not until the very end that you can finally get to the business idea you want £250,000 investment for — so you need to be willing to jump through various challengingly themed hoops first.

A lot of the tasks are a joke but they can demand all kinds of skills that are often delegated, from cooking to operating a complex camera. These brave souls get stuck into every grubby, undignified stage regardless. Joanna even dressed as a pea pod in front of a room of people judging an already shaky pitch.

Sucking it up is the first, essential ingredient you need to get from week to week. Far too many candidates focus on winning like the several weeks of tasks, pitches and interviews are a minor hurdle to hop over. Even week 1’s elimination Danny Grant maintains he “definitely could have won the show”.

Trying to rise above it all won’t work. Your own project has to wait, so for now, grab that hairnet.

You know you’re only as good as your best day in the boardroom

Here’s a cold, hard fact for you — Alan Sugar doesn’t care how successful your actual business is. He doesn’t care how well you’re doing away from his world, so citing your sales record back in Birmingham is almost guaranteed to enrage.

The Apprentice is its own world with its own rules, and Lord Sugar rules it. There’s been a few occasions throughout the series so far where contestants have tried to inflate their own ego and had Lord Sugar deflate them almost completely. Jeff even brought up his breakdancing record in an attempt to change the subject.

When you enter the boardroom, you need to throw off your past achievements and be willing to start from scratch in front of one of the most frightening panel of judges on TV. No pressure.

So who’s our bet to win? We like Elizabeth’s style (can over-enthusiasm ever be a bad thing?). What’s yours?

If you’d rather build your business empire away from the cameras, find out if you have the right personality to be a startup founder instead.

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