No Sugar required
What do the hapless contestants on BBC One's 'The Apprentice' share with some of the UK's real entrepreneurs? A new book lifts the lid on what it takes to make it BIG TIME, reports brand marketing and sponsorship guru, Ardi Kolah.
Now in its second week, BBC's 'The Apprentice' parades twenty-somethings each week with critically important business missions to complete. Each of the contestants are in some sort of reality TV game, where to act as the new captain of industry you need a great job title to match.
They all have such important sounding titles, such as "entrepreneur", "international car trader" and "global pricing leader'" (my personal favourite). The mind boggles.
The Apprentice is so addictive because it's like watching a car crash happen in slow motion.
As the viewer, you're left in a state of suspended animation -- knowing what will happen next but powerless to influence the inevitable outcome -- a disaster for one of the hapless teams sent on a mission by Alan Sugar (why does he insist on being called Sir Alan?) and the firing squad assembled in the boardroom that will dispatch that week's latest victim to business oblivion.
It's great telly, but what on earth does it say about modern business, or for that matter being an apprentice? Of course that's not the point of the show, so I'll move on.
What 'The Apprentice' has done, brilliantly, is put business and entrepreneurship on the map as a career choice for millions of aspiring "Apprentice-type" candidates up and down the length of the country. God knows, we need them!
In order to improve their chances of getting on the show, perhaps these new "captains of industry-to-be" should get hold of a copy of 'Making It', preferably before they fill out the BBC's application form for the show.
What 'Making It' demonstrates, superbly, is that the road to success is full of pot holes. In other words, each of the 11 entrepreneurs featured had to overcome challenges, issues and mistakes -- very often of a personal nature.
Kanya King had the vision to create the world's foremost urban music and awards show. That was a decade ago and MOBO is a now a phenomenal success. But King felt isolated at the start, working on her own out of her bedroom in the beginning.
Ben Keene's idea was to create an online community and real world tribe -- TribeWanted.com -- and in the beginning it was a phenomenal success. With over 1,000 paid up tribe members from 20 countries registered in a matter of months.
"It was a pretty rapid start and definitely gave us a false sense of security...Then the reality started to kick in", explains Keene.
That blip was a malicious viral campaign created by a US blogger who almost put Keene and his partner out of business. They survived and an observational documentary of TribeWanted was recently broadcast by the BBC -- filmed by Elisabeth Murdoch's production company.
And Nick Jones, the man behind the Soho House Group, with its private members' clubs, a wide range of exclusive hotels and spas and CowShed beauty products range, hadn't always enjoyed such a champagne lifestyle. His first entree into the hospitality world was a downmarket couple of burger bars in Soho and Fulham called Over the Top.
"They were shocking; the worst restaurants in the world. The food was revolting. The decor and design were all wrong. Cash flow was a nightmare. So it was a great lesson", confesses Jones.
So budding Apprentice applicants should take heart -- be prepared to learn from your mistakes and triumph over adversity. Most successful people have.
'Making It' is published by Crimson Business in conjunction with Sony. Price £11.99, available from www.crimsonpublishing.com.
Ardi Kolah is ranked as one of the top 50 thinkers in marketing in the world by the Chartered Institute of Marketing and is a Director of MOBO.
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