Business and Leadership Lessons From the Apprentice – The Interviews

So this years series of the Apprentice is now over and the winner announced, and in order to get to the point we are now the candidates have been through the interview stage.

In this stage the candidates are grilled by 4 business professionals who will scrutinise their CV’s and business plans, and in most cases blow holes in them.

Some clear lessons came from this final episode, both from things to consider when writing a business plan to handling yourself in an interview.

When putting a business plan together to start a business, consider the following:

Do your market research – You need to know that your business will succeed and your product will sell. To do this you need to talk to potential customers to ensure that your product or service is something they will want to buy. For example, Jim clearly didn’t talk to his potential customers and this made the interviewers question whether or not the business would succeed.

Check your costs – Make sure you further research the product or service you want to offer and you know exactly how much it will cost to do business. In the interview Tom hadn’t considered all of the costs for his product to go to market.

Cost everything. Not just the product development but any other costs for you to do business. For example, each product Susan wanted to take to market and this could cost up to £5000 per product that wasn’t in the plan.

Costs are key if you are looking for investment as you clearly need to show that your product or service will be profitable.

Build a business around your skills – You want it to be successful so do something that you have expertise in. If you haven’t got the knowledge and skills, how will you know if things are going right or wrong? You need to be credible to customers and investors. Helen for example built a business plan that was something very different to her skill set, much to the disappointment of Lord Alan Sugar.

Check, Double Check and Check Again – Ensure your plan stands up and that everything is correct. If you can’t get the plan right how will you instil confidence in others that your business will? Tom’s plan had errors in his numbers and this was pulled out in the interview.

And, during an interview:

Be succinct with your answers – Get to the point and don’t waffle. Jim had a tendency to use lots of clichés in his answers to the questions, much to the annoyance of the interviewers.

If you have made a mistake in a CV, don’t try and cover it – If you have missed something, be honest about it. Don’t try and cover it up or tell lies. You will get more respect by owning up and this opens the door to talk about what you could do. Making false claims or cover ups will only be found out at some point.

This series of the Apprentice for me has been fantastic in the way it was approached, even if it was a little repetitive. I look forward to the next series.

David