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Lessons from The Apprentice, week 6
How to avoid getting fired
Week 6 was all about getting stuck in and dirtying your hands, as the candidates hard grafted for cash running a handyman business. The climax was a triple firing by Lord Sugar, with Elle shown the door early on and Mergim and April falling foul in the final three. With the competition intensifying, what can we learn from last night's episode?
How to not get fired
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Lesson #1: Be decisive
"You ain't got a lot of time, so make a decision"
Elle – this week's first boardroom casualty – had a clear tactic: to put someone else in charge and step back. Foreman Joseph did an excellent job (such that he was given boardroom immunity), and in that respect it worked. But her decision-making really ended there; as Karen highlighted, she ‘didn't plan or strategise or organise anything for the sub-team'.
Her lack of a handle on the project was exposed at the beginning, when she missed the print deadline for promotional material, leaving Mergim to hand-write flyers on note paper, and at the end, when she couldn't answer the question ‘What's the plan?', requiring Joseph to step in and suggest co-ordinating with the sub-team. Leadership requires both strategic decision-making and quick thinking in the moment. Both were needed in this task but neither were truly shown.
Key take-away: strategy requires decisive action, but you also need the ability to think on your feet
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Lesson #2: Be nimble
"You've got to grab your opportunities in this process"
This week Mergim experienced one of those moments in which life (or in this case Lord Sugar) gives you a chance to step up. And there was ‘no time for joking now' for this pack's leading joker. Mergim couldn't hide from the fact that his actions directly resulted in his team losing money, and April expressed concern towards his handle on the seriousness of the task. But Lord Sugar gave him a last chance, albeit one taking the reigns as PM of ‘a real disaster', to prove himself worthy of the task.
Mergim gave his back story and expressed his dream of becoming a millionaire, and in uncharacteristically touching fashion Lord Sugar built up thoughtfully and gently towards the words ‘you're fired'. But the opportunity had been to show something different in the form of business partner potential. Lacking that in the final moments, and with a problematic performance leading the sub-team, Mergim's time in the process came to an end.
Key take-away: be ready when opportunity knocks and you get the chance to step up
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Lesson #3: Get stuck in
"I did try to stress that we needed to upsell the DIY"
This week was all about getting stuck in, but for April this had to be in a manner worthy of week 6, as Claude reminded Lord Sugar in their pre-firing consultation. Joseph outshone the rest in this respect, but April's light labour and upselling suggestion wasn't enough. Feeling lost without proper direction from Mergim, she wasn't able to steady the ship, leaving the sub-team charging less than £2.50 per person per hour.
The question put to her was ‘where's your business acumen?' and not to show any in this task sealed her fate. There were plenty of poor showings this week; but, accused of hanging back in previous weeks, April needed to turn in a strong performance in this task, and it didn't happen. She was the third and final firing in a trigger-happy episode.
Key take-away: when the going gets tough… get stuck in, get your bearings, and keep your head
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It's not all bad…
Elle showed herself to be frank and forthright on several occasions, made the smart move letting Joseph shine and praised him for it well. She seems aware that she can give more, and should be able to tap into that potential. Mergim is clearly hard-working and enterprising, as well as oddly charismatic (evidenced by the smiles of Lord Sugar, Karen and his fellow candidates). He has bundles of ambition and shouldn't be disheartened. April is smart, driven and professional, and proved to be bold and decisive taking on the PM's role in week 1. For each it was probably time to leave, but to each success should come.