How to avoid the sack: lessons from The Apprentice
Find out how to dodge getting fired, with lessons from the BBC show
In week 2, self-appointed ‘prickly customer' Lord Sugar showed project manager Aisha Kasim the door. What lessons can we learn from her departure? Read on as we'll tell you…
How to avoid getting fired
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Lesson #1: Give your team reason to be confident
"If this all backfires, I don't think the team will get behind her because we didn't agree with it"
Say what you will about the candidates' propensity to park blame at the door of the project manager, the fact that Aisha's team described her leadership as dictatorial was not a good sign. She didn't get a great deal of input from the others, but her method of management was in stark contrast with Richard, who gave everyone a chance to have their say uninterrupted. That some of the ideas weren't the strongest – "my idea is sexiness: a gentleman with a haircut similar to mine" – is by the by; the boys ultimately bought into the vision and the girls didn't.
Key take-away: make sure your team are all rowing in the same direction; if not, don't be surprised when it all capsizes.
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Lesson #2: Know your market
"You're rotating like a kebab, Ruth"
The look on the two 20-something models faces when they were told the product was ‘specifically designed for elder ages' was priceless. It also perfectly highlighted the flaw at the heart of the Desert Secrets campaign: right hand man Claude Littner voiced his concern about a team chiefly comprised of those in their twenties designed a product for the ‘grey pound', but Aisha's decision to book models half the age of her target market – leading Ruth to step in (quite admirably) – was indicative of the way the whole campaign unravelled.
Bonus mention for Natalie's verdict on the target customer "I think sometimes they can be quite afraid of the unknown, in terms of new beauty products". During a pitch for a new beauty product… With clearly unimpressed target demographic Karen Brady in the room... Really?
Key take-away: rule number one of marketing is to know your customer – if you're going to lead a project, make sure you know the fundamentals.
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Lesson #3: When things go wrong, understand why
"I'm not sure who was supposed to be giving who a massage"
The final nail in Aisha's coffin was her decision to bring Vana back into the boardroom. As was made painfully clear, the team – and PM – signed on to the idea of the grey pound and their failure was the result of poor marketing, not the chosen market. Trying to blame Vana was a sign of Aisha's poor judgment, as highlighted by Lord Sugar, and showed a misunderstanding of what went awry.
Key take-away: mistakes are excusable, but failing to learn from them isn't; understanding the problem is the first step towards rectifying it.
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It's not all bad…
Aisha is confident enough to put herself forward and lead a group of big personalities, which can only be a good thing. Although the overall campaign could have been stronger, she generated ideas when there were few forthcoming and kept cool under considerable pressure.