How to not get fired: lessons from The Apprentice
We tell you how to avoid getting fired, with help from the BBC show
BBC's The Apprentice highlights the occasional brutality of the business world. Candidates point the finger, dodge the bullet, and throw one another under the bus (among other idioms) in order to avoid business magnate and all-round taskmaster Lord Alan Sugar's infamous "You're fired".
Each week, we'll be looking at the previous episode's unlucky loser to tell you…
How to avoid getting fired
Disclaimer: reality TV competitions are not real businesses – but they sometimes offer hilarious parallels
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Lesson #1: Know what you're getting yourself into
"I didn't enter this process in order to sell salad on the street"
Dan Callaghan was the first contestant to be shown the door, and his most obvious mistake was a fundamental misunderstanding of the task at hand: anyone who's watched an episode knows that ‘selling salad on the street' is exactly the kind of challenge this process is all about.
And if that's genuinely not your skillset and you do find yourself there, for goodness sake don't keep repeating the fact that you're bad at it.
Key take-away: know the requirements of the job at hand, and brush up your skills if required. It's far easier to do well when you understand the criteria against which you'll be assessed.
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Lesson #2: Make a good first impression
"Get your hands out of your pockets"
In truth, Dan was off to a bad start. To be singled out of a group of 18 people (and one phenomenal multi-coloured suit) and cut down with Lord Sugar's first utterance on the show is hardly ideal. Body language matters and pocketed hands – especially in a room full of assertive competitors – screams ‘I'm out of my depth'.
Key take-away: make sure your first impression sticks – for the right reason.
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Lesson #3: Know your competition
"I, I, I, I don't really know, I guess…"
Just to set the record straight: it's not recommended that managers or business owners put a handful of their employees in the firing line and pit them against each other to see who should be disposed of… however, that's the name of the game on The Apprentice. And in this competition, if you're going to stake a claim for not being fired, you really ought to have an opinion on who should take that place.
Key take-away: keep abreast of the competition (hopefully outside your organisation, rather than in) – know the competitive landscape and play to your strengths accordingly.
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It's not all bad…
Genuine, enthusiastic, and refreshingly modest, Dan already has a successful online retail business to his name. His lack of sales skills might have resulted in an early exit, but he's got bags of potential and the self-awareness to work on his weak points.