Now in its fifteenth season, BBC’s The Apprentice is a business-related reality television show created by Mark Burnett and currently starring: Lord Alan Sugar, Baroness Karren Brady and Claude Littner. Since its initial release in 2004, The Apprentice has become increasingly popular with audiences across the country. Known for verbal boardroom bust-ups and passive aggressive behaviour among contestants, the popular television programme has managed to generate and maintain loyal viewers who continue to revel in the drama.
The Apprentice primarily focuses on a group of budding entrepreneurs who are looking to make a fortune with the help of Lord Alan Sugar. Previous winners of the show earned a top position in one of Lord Sugar’s thriving businesses, but the prize has changed in recent years. Instead of a brand new job working under one of the most successful businessmen in the country, the winning contestant will get a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar himself in a bid to start up their very own business. In order to receive this life-changing reward, contestants will go up against each other in a series of demanding business-related challenges, all of which are watched over by Lord Sugar’s board members; Brady and Littner.
But what does it take to win the show? With fourteen winners of The Apprentice thus far, they each have something in common which could have been a contributing factor to their success on the programme.
The ability to perform under pressure
With challenging tasks presented to them on a regular basis, contestants can only look forward to a long day of nothing but hard work. The challenges presented to them are never straightforward and require a natural talent for, and interest in business-related ventures in order to win an individual task. Every word, decision and action is intensely scrutinised by one of Lord Sugar’s board members. With Karren’s infamous raise of an eyebrow, to Claude’s undeniable disapproval, it’s often easy to decipher what they may be thinking – and they’re making notes, too.
As soon as a task is over, the contestants (which are split into two different teams) will reconvene and watch as Lord Sugar, Brady and Littner enter the boardroom. By this point, Lord Alan Sugar has already been fed information from Karren and Claude about the day’s events – the good, the bad and the ugly. Therefore, before the meeting has even commenced, the contestants are being judged from the offset.
The boardroom scenes make for intense viewing as the actions and decisions made by contestants are viciously picked apart by, not only Lord Sugar but their peers as well. As the claws come out, the atmosphere intensifies and contestants will soon find themselves answering to Lord Alan Sugar himself. Those who crumble under pressure will often be the ones who are ‘fired’ (a term used when eliminating contestants from the process), subsequently ending their time on the show.
Winning contestants must maintain absolute composure throughout, something which can be difficult to do when every move you make is being meticulously watched and criticised at every turn. Those who can withstand the heat are the ones who are most likely to make it into the final stage of the process, and eventually win the grand prize.
They’ll be able to clearly communicate their vision
As part of the overall process, a few lucky (or unlucky should we say) contestants will be interviewed by some of Lord Sugar’s most successful business associates, including Margaret Mountford who was once a board member herself throughout the show’s early years. This part of the process is one that viewers look forward to, but contestants will dread.
Acting as a highly intense, slightly aggressive form of an average job interview, contestants will come under scrutiny like never before as their business plans are savagely deconstructed. During this process, questions will be asked regarding their CV and their business plans. In a bid to pass the test, candidates must convince the interviewer that their business plans are robust and realistic in order to move onto the next stage in the process.
Clearly conveying their vision, plans and aspirations is a skill which will reap rewards in the boardroom later on. Once the interviews have been conducted, Lord Sugar’s business associates will discuss, in detail, how their experiences were with each candidate, whether good or bad.
Having had a lengthy discussion about the remaining contestants following the interview process, Lord Sugar will then decide who should be eliminated from the show and subsequently lose out on the hefty £250,000 investment on offer. The remaining two contestants will then enter the final, with their sights firmly on the life-changing prize.
Staying calm in the face of adversity
Although The Apprentice is made up of aspiring businesspeople, there will be a number of candidates who don’t have a background in business at all, leaving some people to question why they were allowed to be on the show in the first place.
While facing media attention and enduring the opinions of viewers, some contestants may not be as resilient to it as others. Despite the show airing a few months after a final decision has been made, and a winner has been chosen, the press still has the ability to throw shade on the successes of striving contestants; something which can follow through into their business venture with Lord Sugar, after the show has concluded.
In an attempt to stay in the competition, candidates must have a natural resilience and a skin which is already thick enough to withstand feelings of adversity. Positivity is the best way to battle this, as historically, pessimistic contestants are often the first to be booted off the programme.
Despite several candidates getting into some difficulty along the way, it often pays to remain happy and positive throughout the task. Not only will this boost the morale of other people in the team, but it will also keep their own hopes high throughout the entire process.
Learning to turn a challenging situation around will, the majority of the time, come with experience, however, many contestants on the show are young and impressionable. One would argue that without a business background, they may struggle, but this isn’t always the case. Someone who is naturally positive with a sunny disposition can flawlessly turn situations around in an instant, something that contestants with years of experience in business may struggle to do.
Authenticity must shine through
Lord Alan Sugar will continue to meticulously choose who he would like to go into business with. If there are any signs of repeat pessimism or a complete lack of personality or positivity in a candidate, they tend to be the ones who end up being driven home in the back of a black cab at the end of the show.
For someone to win The Apprentice, Lord Sugar must first realise that they’re authentic businesspeople who will do nothing but bring in considerable amounts of money following a £250,000 cash injection to kickstart their company. As Lord Sugar will always insist on a 50:50 partnership, it’s imperative that the right person is chosen.
There have been many authentic winners of The Apprentice over the past fifteen years, including the likes of Simon Ambrose (series three), Tom Pellereau (series seven) and Mark Wright (series ten). After their success on the show, all have chosen to stick by Lord Sugar and the business they’ve set up together. This therefore shows that their authenticity has shone through even after winning the top prize.
Mark Wright – Winner of The Apprentice 2014
Mark Wright won the show in 2014 at the end of series ten. He went on to start his own digital marketing agency, Climb Online! with the help of Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment. Since his win, he has experienced much success, and has since branched out and, by 2017, established digital marketing hubs across London, Manchester and Bristol.
With his passion for business and highly developed entrepreneurial skills, Wright has gone on to speak openly at events about his experiences, helping to inspire a new generation of businesspeople across the country. Having won a number of awards and accolades, including Entrepreneur’s Team of the Year at the 2018 UK Business Awards and securing a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in 2017, Wright has passion and drive to continue to reap the rewards of owning and managing his own company.
In June 2019, he welcomed hundreds of Business Owners and Aspiring Entrepreneurs to his first UK business conference, CLIMBCON. The event was dedicated to helping budding entrepreneurs accelerate the growth of their business, and featured Lord Alan Sugar and Piers Morgan as key inspirational speakers.
Kruger Cowne are a respected, full-service talent representation company who are proud to represent a variety of Entrepreneurship Speakers, Motivational and Teamwork Speakers and Finance and Business Management Speakers. Lord Alan Sugar, Baroness Karren Brady and Mark Wright are all available to give motivational talks at your event, helping you to inspire an audience. For more details and further information, get in touch with a member of our friendly and knowledgeable team – we’re always happy to help.