So what exactly is Lord Sugar looking for?

Well, after the departure of Chris Farrell from the Apprentice Boardroom, what qualities does the winner need to possess?

After all, Chris was liked by everyone, played fair, worked hard and seemed to lose out due to friend Jamie’s transgression, not really his own.

For it was Jamie’s idea to shift the appointment Chris was making from 9am to 1pm. Their team lost the task as a result. Chris was summoned back to the Boardroom.

Have you ever been in a job interview where it seemed to go really well, but you didn’t get the job?

It was a bit like this in the Boardroom. Lord Sugar hardly had a bad word to say about Chris, and yet he fired him.

Each week of the competition, a weak quality gets singled out in a candidate. It’s the same each year.

By now we have a pretty clear idea of what Lord Sugar doesn’t like. And it’s as if the candidates spend a lot of their time trying not to do the things they know he dislikes.

But what things does he like?

“Business acumen”, he tells us. But what does this consist of?

I suspect the winning candidate will be multi-dimensional, i.e. not one-dimensional.

So you need to be able to sell, but not just sell.

You need to be able to plan, but not just plan, but execute and see the task through as well.

You need to be personable, but “nice” is no good, particularly if it gets in the way of handling awkward conflicts in your team.

Most businesses I know have one big problem: succession. Who is capable of taking over? There are plenty of pretenders for this role.

And Lord Sugar’s empire is no different. Lord Sugar needs another “lord sugar”.

Someone with the knack of spotting what could work. Someone with the capability to get it done, the resilience to get up when things fall over, and someone with the determination to see it through and bank the profit.

But it’s not called “The Apprentice” for nothing. Ultimately the man who thinks he is unpopular will have to try to discern all this and more from the people before him, from a mottly crew, and some of them rookies.

And this must surely be the toughest task of all! It’s the ultimate test of leadership: to find another leader.

More Apprentice

Dr Steve Lewis

More information

About drstevelewis

Good leadership is essential for any project to succeed. I specialise in the most difficult leadership challenges; those involving the way we relate to other people or the way they relate to us. With a background of many years in business and an earlier training in medicine I combine the two in a unique consultancy.
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1 Response to So what exactly is Lord Sugar looking for?

  1. Tim says:

    A lovely, thought-provoking post.

    A multi-faceted candidate is definitely important. The great salespeople have often gone a long way in The Apprentice – Saira Khan, Ruth Badger, Kristina Grimes – but usually lost out in or shortly before the final.

    Sugar is unlikely to be looking for a successor via this process – he certainly won’t find one this way! – but he will have a certain profile in mind depending on exactly what job he has planned for them.

    When Tim Campbell won series one, the job Sugar gave him was effectively as a project leader on a new product launch, a role which required good organisation, a calm personality and all-round skills, which fitted Tim perfectly.

    Simon Ambrose beat Kristina to a role in Sugar’s property business – here he wanted someone academically capable who could relate well to clients and handle all the legal complexities of property deals. Hence Simon became the only Apprentice who fell into the “posh and educated” category that Sugar so often despises.

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