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  • Writer's pictureStuart Jackson

How not to get fired! 5 lessons from The Apprentice

Ultimate recruitment process, The Apprentice is back on our screens this month. For those who don’t know the show, British Business magnate Lord Alan Sugar puts a group of candidates through a series of tests in an effort to find the best hire for a business partner role. At this point, the show is infamous for the gaggle of astonishing characters we see on our screens, often absolute caricatures of bad candidates. But starting with a viewership of 2.60 million in its first 2005 series, now rising to 7.17 million in 2021, it cannot be denied that it has a certain amount of influence on how young professionals are represented to the British public. So, let’s use it as a ‘what not to do’ guide for those looking for a role! Here are some of the top lessons we’ve (already!) gathered from episode one around how to behave, both in the interview and beyond.

1) Avoid the cliche business talk

Whether it’s bad metaphors or using complex terminology you don’t really understand, there is no better way to immediately discredit yourself. An employer doesn’t want another cardboard cut out. Authenticity and individuality are key and are fundamentally what makes you stand out. A job interview is also an important opportunity not only for the employer to see if you are suited to the role, but to see if the role is suited to you. If you are not presenting yourself truthfully and transparently, it will be difficult to have productive conversations with your prospective employer.

2) Don’t be disruptive

This is not only something worth demonstrating to your employer but also an essential lesson for how to ensure you are happy in your role. The combative styles of The Apprentice candidates often mean not only that they are disruptive and have a negative impact on productivity, but also that they are often very stressed and unhappy. It is absolutely important to have confidence in your thoughts and decisions and take the initiative to have them heard but not at the cost of finding consensus and getting things done.

3) Don’t be influenced badly

A repeat offence on the show is candidates allowing those who shout the loudest to take over during challenges and influence their decision making. There is a fine line between taking on board the opinions of others and letting them dominate. It is also important to assess the value of advice and the track record of the person giving it. Are they known for making strong and smart decisions? Are they held in high regard by your other colleagues? Do they have particular expertise or experience in the field on which you are taking their advice? If the answers are all yes, then it makes good sense to allow them to influence you and your choices. If not then…think again! It is you who will be held to account for your actions, not your influencer, so don’t put yourself in a position where the bad advice of others reflects badly on you.

4) Be emotionally aware

The candidates we see on The Apprentice often fall down due to their self-serving behaviour and inability to make their colleagues and the decision-makers like them. Even though the professional world is less emotional than the personal, it is very hard to get things done if you are unlikeable. Employers want to feel confident that their employees can work well with others, whether that’s team members or service users. Being able to listen, take on board feedback and adapt your style and energy to match the other persons are essential skills that ultimately lead to healthy and positive relationships

5) Be self-aware

Blindly and arrogantly self-confident young men and women are rife in The Apprentice and they often fall foul of the ‘fired finger’! In order to really excel, it is important to be honest about your abilities, strengths and weaknesses. You can only do this properly if you are fully aware of them yourself, so taking time to get to know yourself is vital. Embracing your failures and your successes equally is the best way to self develop and grow and understanding your flaws will allow you to seek out work environments and colleagues which complement them. For example, if you know yourself to be someone who does not enjoy customer service and struggles with communication, a property management role is probably not the first area you should look to.

At the end of the day, the overall take-home message we can thank The Apprentice for is, it’s always best to be yourself, but more importantly, your professional self. The characters in the show are no doubt chosen to some extent as a result of their verbose and strident personalities, guaranteed to make good watching. But in their efforts to ingratiate themselves with Lord Alan Sugar and present themselves as superior candidates and/or business people they ultimately create very inauthentic personalities. Being professional and professionally successful isn’t always about being the absolute best and in fact, is more often than not, about mucking in and getting on with others. So whether you’re going through the recruitment process or just trying to improve yourself within your role, just remember your employer would always rather have a genuine and well-liked employee than a headstrong ‘business superstar’.

Jackson Sims Recruitment is a property recruitment company operating in the UK and APAC region. Should you be a candidate or client working in property management we have a multitude of recruitment services that can be tailored to you. Please visit for more information.

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