I am sort of aficionado when it comes to the show The Apprentice. I have watched the show from every English speaking Country, and have learned quite a bit from the show. Some of the errors of candidates, regardless of the Country, seem to be universal. Could it be that those same mistakes make it into real business, which is why so many fail? The mistakes are:
- Ignoring Market Research: Without a doubt this is the one that seems to be more about ego than the idea that the market is wrong. Let me give you two examples. One, there was a task to make a home exercise piece of equipment. The market research told the losing team that it had to be simple and easy to use. What did they make? A black box with exercise hands. It was ugly and complicated. One of the places they pitched said the best thing about the team’s pitch was that they took the box with them when they left. Ouch. The second was to build an item for the home. The losing team went against the research and built what they referred to as a splash wall to keep water from getting out of the tub when the child played. The better idea they had was for a pillow in the bathtub.
- Not controlling the budget: Just because you have money does not mean you have to spend it all in one place. You have to know and justify what you are spending money on. In the task the candidates were required to set up a cleaning service for the day. The caveat was that all the equipment they put in their van came out of their $300 budget. The losing team spent almost all of their money, and seemed to be happy by their decision. The other team spent only half, and actually undersold the losing the losing team, but because the losing team let their budget get away from them, they ended up in the boardroom for one of them to be fired.
- Being nasty is not a skill: Several candidates on season five of The Apprentice UK were nasty, mean spirited, and way too arrogant. They were nasty to each other, customers, places they were pitching, and one was even nasty to one of the people who follows the team. Let me tell you this was not the thing to be, they received a dressing down from Lord Sugar they won’t soon forget. The nastiness even caused some of them to purposely sabotage their team’s chances of winning just to try to get someone they didn’t like out of the competition. It didn’t work.
- Know your products: There are two tasks with two different skills needed. One, they send the candidates to buy products from a list at the cheapest price. The other was selling products they had for their proper value. In the first one, there are always items they have zero clue what they are, so they waste lots of time trying to find them, and tend to overspend. In the other task, they are supposed to find the value of the product and then sell it for that price or more. In both cases, teams waste lots of time on the things which don’t matter, ignore sound advice, and forget what they were told to do in the briefing. In the valuation tasks, both teams lost money just by not doing research.
- Practice your pitch: This show has lots of people with egos and they like to show off, so they will put the wrong person in to pitch. The main example I can think of involved a mobile app. The person who should have done the speech, does speeches to youth as her job. The one who did the pitch was a project manager who had zero clue of this market, and sounded like she was pitching to a corporate board. She even failed to tell them how to download the product.
Although these candidates just suffered being fired by one of The Apprentice hosts, business owners could suffer consequences which could lead to their business being unprofitable or closed, so take heed.