Becoming an Entrepreneur: What has The Apprentice taught us?

In most developed countries, being a business owner or aspiring entrepreneur has become as hard as it has been for several years. The impact of the global downturn which started back in 2008 is still being felt today, as millions of people struggle to find long-term stable employment, while consumer demand in the US and Western Europe hasn’t reached pre-downturn levels yet.

sir alan sugar

When you factor in rising costs of energy, communications and, for the manufacturing sector in particular, several raw materials, being a business owner doesn’t seem quite so glamorous now, does it? If you have thought about becoming an entrepreneur, but feel as if you’re not ready, where can you go for inspiration? As it happens, you could do worse than learn from The Apprentice.

Hired or fired?

The original business reality TV show, The Apprentice is arguably the easiest way in which people can learn how a business is run, especially when it comes to choosing the right employee. In the US version, where billionaire property tycoon Donald Trump chooses a new employee from 12 candidates, the skills of each contestant are tested in group exercises.

The same format is followed in the more serious UK version, where Trump’s role is taken by millionaire Sir Alan Sugar. The similarities between both shows are striking in terms of the ruthlessness of many contestants right down to the famous catchphrase used when an ‘apprentice’ is dismissed – “You’re Fired!”

Rewarding innovation

In the recent US celebrity version, Trump recently announced that Trace Adkins was the winner, just beating magician Penn Jillette. He gave the first prize to Adkins because he showed plenty of initiative. In terms of choosing the right staff, the US version is probably as good an example as aspiring businesspeople could wish to follow.

Meanwhile, in the more subdued yet equally competitive UK show, Sir Alan and his assistants have been given plenty of dilemmas. Conflicts between contestants are something that no business owner wants to deal with, but they have handled them over several series with varying degrees of success.

What can you learn?

While there’s plenty that can be replicated from The Apprentice in your business, there are also things you could do better, as this blog post explains some of the downfalls of the show. Remaining calm during a mini-crisis, for example is a must for any entrepreneur, as it means being able to think more clearly when it’s needed the most.

Resolving any conflicts between staff is equally important – infighting can make it hard to keep everyone on the same page. Perhaps the most important thing of all is to try and think every business or product idea through before following it up. During some of the tasks on The Apprentice, many of the ideas have been terrible because no thought went into them.

There’s no denying that The Apprentice has provided the average Joe with a window into the world of business, but not everything you see on screen should be copied. Simply by replicating the good bits and learning from the mistakes, your business should be ready to grow!

Photo credit: duncan via photopin cc