This years batch of The Apprentice UK is the most boring yet.

*FULL DISCLAIMER* This post is a bit of fun.  I’ve made a few points that I stick by, but I’m having a little fun at the expense of a few reality TV people.  I’m joking people.  I don’t really think she’s a serial killer.  She would have been caught by now anyway.

Some of you may or may not know that I once applied to be in The Apprentice.  When I was younger and head strong, I thought I knew everything about ‘business’ and decided that the people of the UK needed to see me on the telly.  How wrong I was.

I’m not bitter I didn’t get through (I SWEAR).  But, going through the process did teach me something valuable.

The people put onto a reality TV show about ‘running a business’ are no better than exhibits in a Victorian freak show.

So series 11 of The Apprentice is upon us.

This year we have-

  • a hair extension specialist
  • a couple of ex-Navy people
  • a former Miss Jamaica
  • a former MEP worker turned fragrance retailer
  • a sports marketing owner
  • someone who works in construction
  • a programme manager
  • a student
  • a plumber who cites Hugh Hefner as his role model
  • a sales account manager
  • someone in telecomms
  • the Director of a digital marketing company
  • a sales training consultant
  • a private tutor
  • another sales manager
  • events manager
  • social media entreprenuer

Now, what’s wrong with their professional credentials?  Absolutely nothing.  By all accounts these are brilliant and solid business backgrounds.  My concern is the quotes that these people are HAPPY to have associated next to them.

The Apprentice candidates quotes

“I am the definition of success, I’m a godfather of business and I’m here to make Lord Sugar a lot of money.”

Do you want to know who said that?  If Jeff Bezos or Frank Kern said that, even then I’d think “eesh, that’s a bit arrogant”.

But no, it’s a 25 year old man who looks like this.

Joseph Valente The Apprentice 2015

The definition of success

I’m not the smartest man, but I don’t know what a ‘godfather of business’ is.  I’ve heard a lot of bullshit terms in my time, but that’s a new one.

What else have we got?  Well, this years Apprentice candidates have NOT held back with their quotes.  Some of these are PURE GOLD.

“I pride myself on not having any negative or bad traits about myself, they’re all good, they’re all positive.”

Brett-Butler-Smythe-the-apprentice-uk rs

Not a single bad trait

This is a quote from 28 year old, Ex-navy turned property business owner –  Brett Butler-Smythe.  I don’t know Brett and I don’t know anything about the Navy. But I do know a lot about people who run property businesses and they’re generally split into two camps.

Property business owners that I never ever want to be in the same room as.  And property business owners that don’t exist.

Are these quote chosen to rile up viewers like me?  Is the idea of having a menagerie of loose-tongued, arrogant misfits the perfect ‘Stanford prison experiment-esque‘ concoction?  Of course.

Therein lies my fundamental problem with the show.  Their quotes, personality and attitudes are totally opposite of what running a real business is like.

Most of the winners no longer work with Lord Sugar.

Statistically, you’re more likely to already work for a small business than you are to still be working with Sugar after WINNING The Apprentice.

Of 11 series’, only 4 still work with Sugar.  Now, realistically, it’s been going on for over a decade.  However only as recently as 2011 have winners started sticking around.

“I’m a Swiss army knife of bouncy skills, business skills, enthusiasm, I’ve got everything highly tuned and highly chiselled.”

-Richard Woods

Richard Woods-The Apprentice 2015 rs

Richard Woods – a bouncy Swiss army knife

Admittedly, people have every right to move on and change jobs.  On the other hand, there have been employment tribunals.  Time moves everyone on eventually most winners leave, usually after about 18 months.

If they really were that impressive, we’d have heard of them – or they wouldn’t need the work

I’ve never understood the small minded audacity of people bragging about how brilliant they are.  The fact remains, if you were that good, you wouldn’t need to go on TV to raise £100 000.  Or is it possible that there is ANOTHER reason to want to appear on the show…?

David Stevenson-The Apprentice 2015 rs

David Stevenson – beautiful

“Me and Lord Sugar will work together because you’ve got age and beauty and those two go hand in hand all the time. Sugar’s got the age and I certainly am beautiful.”

-David Stevenson

This man here believe that he will win because he’s beautiful.  Looks like someone’s Mum praised them too much as a child.

It’s designed to be more like a zoo than a business process

TV exec 1 : Let’s put a load of pumped up, over-praised, underdeveloped members of the public into a TV show.  Make sure to pick people that won’t get on so there’s drama.

TV exec 2 : That’s been done before.  It’s called Big Brother.  It was moved to another TV station after racism, torture and public masturbation.

Tv exec 1 : Oh yeah.  Ok, this time let’s get them to pretend to run a business.

TV exec 2 : Great idea.  I’ll get the coke.

I’m assuming this conversation took place.

People laugh at him

People laugh at him

This here is Dan Callaghan.  His quote is –

‘I’m just a generally all round quite entertaining person, I think. A lot of people laugh at me.”

I’m laughing at you already Dan.  I’m laughing already.

He might as well have said “I’m the equivalent of comic relief.  No one will seriously back me, but you Mum will think I’m too nice to fire on week 1”

The Apprentice is as much as a social experiment as it is reality TV.  If you’re serious about learning more about running a business or being an entrepreneur – especially if you’re young, then there are better places to learn.  Which brings me to my final point.

There is a chance to do something REALLY good with the show

Back in series 2 when the idea of reality TV was still interesting, there was a contestant who won the UK Apprentice called Michelle Dewberry. She left the company before the end of her 12-month contract and set up her  own consultancy firm to support aspiring young entrepreneurs.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if instead of forcing 18 shaved apes to fling feces wrapped in buzz words at each other, the series was broken down in to REAL, GENUINE business problems and it was their job to solve it.

We have experts and industry leaders on the show all the time.  Nick and Karen (though it’s now Karen and someone else) are absolutely smart and even Sugar, despite what you think of him, knows a thing or two about running an enterprise.

What if we had access to a team of 18 people, who are bright and motivated and asked them to solve the most common business problems that we face?  Where to get funding, how to price your products, how to deal with difficult customers.

Any relation to David?

Elle Stevenson.  Any relation to David?

“I hate anything mediocre – I can’t be middle. I hate being the person that comes second… I’ve never been the person that comes second. I’d rather be the one who fell over at the start of the race and never made it to the finish line.”

-Elle Stevenson

I’ve got news for you Elle.  Operations executive is the most mediocre business title you could have possibly called yourself.

I know, I know, that simply wouldn’t get the ratings.  But frankly, seeing a pressure cooker of cookie cutter TV tropes run around screaming “I’m awesome, I’m pro-active!” is getting weak.

Still – my money is on Natalie Dean.

Natalie Dean-The Apprentice 2015 rs

I’ve killed before

Not because of her credentials or anything.  Just read this quote.

‘If I set my mind to something, I won’t quit until I have done it.”

You read that and look at her eyes.  Tell me that’s not the M.O. of a serial killer.


Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.