Autumn is probably my favourite season. Why is that, I hear you ask? Well, we’ve said goodbye to the unpredictable British summer, and welcomed in cosy nights with the heating turned up. We swap shorts for onesies and comfy jumpers. Then there’s Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations and the countdown to Christmas (and my birthday) begins. But the best thing about autumn is that TV gets good again. For me, this means The X Factor and The Apprentice.
I can honestly say The Apprentice is my TV highlight of the year (judge me all you like) and this latest series is no exception. It’s kicked off with all the usual one-liners, comic soundbites and candidate hijinks.
Let’s take a closer look at the candidates — all suited and booted and hoping to become Lord Sugar’s latest business partner and secure the £250,000 investment that’s up for grabs.
There’s Aisha who states that ‘Pressure makes diamonds. It’s go hard or go home’ (she got fired in week two); Elle, who hates anything mediocre and ‘can’t be middle’ or come second; Joseph, the definition of success and ‘the godfather of business who is here to make Lord Sugar a lot of money’; Richard, the ‘Swiss army knife of bouncy skills, business skills, enthusiasm’; and David who says: ‘Me and Lord Sugar will work together because you’ve got age and beauty and those two go hand in hand all the time. Sugar’s got the age and I certainly am beautiful.’
Putting the larger than life characters and bravado aside, what can we actually learn from The Apprentice and is it actually raising the profile of entrepreneurship? The UK has been named the most entrepreneurial country in Europe and comes fourth overall in the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Index. The UK has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and we’ve given the world some great innovations (the Dyson vacuum cleaner, the ATM, television, the World Wide Web, the Thermos flask and let’s not forget Walkers crisps and chocolate).
If we look at the bare bones of The Apprentice, the tasks are all about selling, margins, negotiation and marketing. They’re built to separate the strong from the weak and those that don’t make a profit or don’t sell simply didn’t make the grade. With London as its backdrop, The Apprentice embraces what the City is best known for — it was built by people who bought and sold goods for a living and made a profit. Today, London is the UK’s economic powerhouse. Whether you’re a start-up or a multinational company, the City leads the way for business.
There remains lots of negativity in the media about the show and whether it is doing more harm than good for entrepreneurship. But as the weeks go by for our budding Apprentices we’ll see some promising businesspeople shine through. The programme demonstrates that if you are ambitious, aim high and are determined then you can achieve your business dreams and surely that must be a positive. And with a £250,000 investment on the table, a once in a lifetime opportunity awaits the best candidate, even if they are a Hugh Hefner wannabe!