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Lessons from The Apprentice, week 7
How to avoid getting fired
Week 7 of The Apprentice saw the candidates – complete with dodgy Mancunian accents – heading north to establish a pop-up discount store. With both teams failing at first to understand the ‘bargain' part of bargain shopping, it looked like disaster all round; but Gary ‘The Mailman' delivered, leaving Scott's team to return to the boardroom. Consumed by infighting, the cherry on an emotionally charged climax was project manager Scott blanking the newly-fired Sam. So, what lessons can be found in this week's fraught finale?
How to not get fired
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Lesson #1: Play for the team
"We might be here as individuals, but we're a stronger force as a team"
Scott's sense of camaraderie may have deserted him when he turned on Sam in the boardroom, but highlighting the value of teamwork was a valid point to make as finger-pointing and accusations of fault flew around the group. Brett was first to vocalise the perceived importance of individual sales, a thought which spread through Vana and Selena, but it was Sam who faced the accusation of not helping the team – and it was a claim he wasn't able to rebut.
While Brett, Vana, and even Selena cracked on with their given tasks despite their concerns, Sam was ‘stuck inside the shop all day long' with ‘nothing else to do', as Lord Sugar put it. His contribution, excepting miscalculations on day one, amounted only to personal selling, and it was for that reason he was brought into the firing line, and ultimately he paid the price.
Key take-away: be a team player – it's fine to voice your concerns, but do what you're required to do and pitch in wherever needed for the good of your team
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Lesson #2: Core skills are core
"He openly admits that he's not very good with numbers"
Language-lover Sam's way with words is without doubt, but numbers aren't his strong point. He held his hand up to this, but as Lord Sugar declared ‘it's not a good thing if you're going into business'. On more than one occasion Sam was tasked with the calculations, and on more than one occasion he handled them poorly.
Diligent as ever, Karen made sure to inform Lord Sugar of this, painting an unflattering picture of Sam ‘crawling around on the floor with his calculator', a scene she described as ‘embarrassing'. The portrayal may have been unflattering but it wasn't unjust: such incidences cast the professionalism of the team into doubt, and, while not critical in the task this time, it highlighted a fundamental weakness in Sam's skill set.
Key take-away: know your fundamentals – and if you need to brush up, you can always consider a tutor
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Lesson #3: Take your chances
"I left you in this process because I thought: give this chap another chance"
After his week as PM Sam was hanging on by a thread, but he was given a lifeline. This week we heard Lord Sugar ask if he was out of his depth; Karen said she ‘didn't think he knew what was going on'; and Scott accused him variously of not listening, passing the buck, and not being in the process for a ‘serious business'.
Scott may well have realised his precarious position, having failed twice as project manager, and he took a different approach for his second sitting in the final three. This time he latched onto a weakness he perceived in Sam, and the killer blow seemed to come with the ‘serious business' dig. Moments earlier, Sam said he was trying to prove himself as a ‘credible' candidate, leading Scott to question if he was actually there to win an investment and Karen to reveal that he'd never run a business. Sam had been given his second chance but, with his likelihood of success being examined this stringently, he wasn't able to prove himself enough, and the brutal mishmash of allegations proved to be insurmountable.
Key take-away: second chances do come, but you've really got to grab them. If someone questions your sincerity, be ready to defend yourself to the hilt
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It's not all bad…
Articulate, intelligent, creative: it's easy to compliment Sam because he has a lot of positive qualities. Despite his team's loss in the earlier book-writing challenge, he showed a real passion for his product (not just the book itself but the message behind it) and that bought him a second chance. Preaching the virtue of integrity, he's willing to admit to his mistakes and knows where he's lacking. With more practical experience to back up his academic background, Sam has a bright future ahead.
Did Sam deserve to be fired from #TheApprentice last night?— REED (@reedglobal) November 19, 2015