Main photo credit BBC.

As someone that works with sales people and business owners on a day to day basis I find myself increasingly frustrated by the messages coming out of “the process”. I try to tell myself that it’s just a TV programme for the entertainment of the masses, however, I can’t help but feel it is also doing damage to the profession of selling.

During the ‘comic book’ task last night there were two instances where I found myself in total disagreement with the thoughts of Lord Sugar and his trusted sidekicks Karen Brady & Claude Littner. The first was where candidate David Alden was castigated for mentioning some negative feedback from their ‘market research’ during a pitch. This was later cited as the reason for the failure of the task and his subsequent firing. The second was Jackie Fast’s insistence on a HUGE (Global) order from the WH Smith buyers.

I agree that David could have articulated the findings of the market research better during the pitch, but how refreshing to hear someone on the show own up to the fact their concept wasn’t perfect and would need further work. The girls on the other hand lead by their ultra bossy Project Manager, Khadijah Kalifa, told a team of highly experienced retail buyers that all their criticisms (lack of French words, wrong age group, etc.) were wrong, and that THEY knew best!

Later I saw the jaws of the WH Smith buyers physically drop when Jackie outrageously demanded a huge order for their comic. It was clear that NEVER in their lives before had any of them witnessed such arrogant and stupid audacity. Despite this her actions appeared to be applauded later in the boardroom by Sugar, Brady & Littner.

This is where the lines between commercial reality and TV entertainment are blurred. In the real world of business, the modern world, we do not suffer fools easily. Arrogance is not rewarded and certainly not celebrated, it is greeted with distain and a gesture towards the exit door. Business today requires honesty, integrity, collaboration and commercial respect.

My concern is that young people will see the candidates being rewarded for the wrong behaviours and then believe these traits are those required for success as an entrepreneur or salesperson.

Imagine the Great British Bake Off where the winner wasn’t the best baker but instead the person who was the most manipulative and sly? The most argumentative person that would demand a Paul Hollywood handshake for a cottage loaf that looked like a scone?

For me, GBBO has got the reality TV show recipe right, The Apprentice clearly hasn’t.

Thank you for reading!

Stuart Allen ~ MD of The Sales Performance Company Ltd


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