Giving the nod to Lord Sugar

If you have an annoying trait it gets mercilessly thrown back at you on BBC’s Apprentice. By Episode 10, inventor Professor Tom Pellereau’s incessant nodding has started to grate on us, and Lord Sugar in particular.

How bizarre then, that on this week’s task, a best-seller was a “nodding dog” of all things!

We saw the funny side and so did Lord Sugar. Dara O’Briain’s show’s take on this was even funnier.

But this nodding thing seems to be catching on. Poor Susan Ma was so tired she started nodding off in the car, all captured on national TV!

Things were less than funny though, when Lord Sugar got upset in The Boardroom. Despite clearly explaining the task to the two teams of three, neither team “got” it.

I’ve never seen him impose an unconstitutional “fine” before. When this didn’t sink Natasha’s team who actually still “won” despite the penalty, he cancelled the winning treats.

Wow! That’s annoyed. Moreover, it wouldn’t be the first time a weak team has won the task. So what made this week’s performance so dismal and so anger-making?

The task was to sell a given range of products, find out which sold best, buy some more and sell more of the same. This is exactly how good business works and was a great idea.

In this task, for the first time, stock has value, so don’t worry if you can’t sell it all, it still has value in the final analysis and constitutes part of your assets.

Natasha only understood the asset of cash. The same thing happened last year when valuable high value goods were sold off frantically, because it was thought only cash mattered.

Jim did understand the importance of reinvestment, but Natasha decided using put-downs like “keep up” to Jim were better than listening to him.

I disagree with Lord Sugar that she lacked courage in reinvesting, I simply think she didn’t understand it. When you watch the “Final Five” programme, there are valuable further insights into each of these characters. Natasha is a “scrapper”, she relishes a fight, no lack of courage there.

She is the only one “to see through Jim”, but in so doing, she overlooked his important insight into this task.

You can’t fight everyone all the time. To lead or manage you need others on-side.

But actually Melody’s team lost, despite having Helen as the usual lucky charm. This week Helen was the one to get it badly wrong.

Locked into “go-for-big-orders” mode she failed to spot that she needed to sell to Joe Public not other retailers, particularly not “pound shops”. There’s no margin.

To Helen’s credit I believe she probably realised her mistake. After a sleepless night she tried a “kitchen coup”, a takeover bid to oust Melody as project manager. The bid failed.

Faced with whom to sack, Lord Sugar had to choose between Professor Tom, Melody the tiger, and Helen.

Helen came into this episode as an” A star”, so was not really at risk. Although she blew it, her kitchen coup antics revealed a ruthless side and a sense of responsibility that will have impressed some people in business.

So what about nodding professor Tom? He’s extremely bright, but has not done very well so far. I’d have him in a team in charge of R & D, but not heading up a commercial role yet.

Judging by the whoops of delight around me when Melody was eventually fired, I suppose she had lost the popularity contest. By her own admission later, she knew she had to listen more. Personally I will miss her.

So why was Lord Sugar so upset? Well, it takes a while to get to know people, but as a leader you’re only as good as your people. From my perspective, if you’ve invested a great deal of time and effort into a bunch of people and they miss the point, again, it’s extremely frustrating.

As a leader, success with people is your enduring legacy.

Earlier episodes: This is a process of elimination; Melody the man-eating tiger; Is Jim sunny or sinister?; Zoe tears up Edna’s MBA 


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.
This entry was posted in Leadership problems, Losing it, Parent, The Apprentice 2011, TV reviews, What makes us angry, You're fired and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Giving the nod to Lord Sugar

  1. Pingback: Do you have to be nasty to win The Apprentice? | Dr Steve Lewis's Blog

  2. Pingback: Do you really want to win The Apprentice? | Dr Steve Lewis's Blog

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