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ILX's The Apprentice Review - Episode 7

Episode 7 of The Apprentice brought the long-awaited advertising task to our screens. The two teams each had to create a 20-second video advertisement and series of digital advertising screens for a new car.

We saw people attempting to do as much as possible, and others apparently not doing enough. We saw issues with teamwork, with some candidates feeling pushed out by their groups, and others reluctant to take responsibility. As the end of the competition draws near, the candidates seem to be acting more in their own interests than as part of a team.

Because of this, we’re going to talk about peace and love. Or, rather, the benefits of putting your efforts into leadership and teamwork to maximise Project success. So grab your get-along shirts and start a round of Kum ba yah: there are lessons to be learned here.

Elizabeth combatted James’ decision to put her with the digital screens team, and insisted on helping make the video ad. She then chose the concept, starred in the film, helped direct, edited and more. While it’s always good to be willing to work hard and contribute, teams exist for a reason. Micro-managing can create discontent in a Project Team and result in tasks being neglected. She was later given a warning in the boardroom about controlling behaviour.

The opposite can be worse. Project Manager James was criticised for allowing Elizabeth to take over the task, and told he should have done more to prevent this. He said that he wanted to put everyone in a position where they could ‘shine’. This is understandable if genuine, but it can easily be mistaken for evading responsibility for a hands-off approach. Often, being in charge seems like the best position to be in, but having careful control of a team and delegating responsibility is no easy feat.

Other candidates felt alienated.

“They’ve put me to the sidelines,” Andrew told the camera.

Bushra had similar sentiments in the boardroom: “I felt like I was being blocked out”.

This may or may not have been intentional. Two phrases we often hear on The Apprentice are “They threw me under the bus” and “I’m going to throw them under the bus”. You may also hear synonyms for the latter, like these:

• “I’m not here to make friends.”

• “I’m going to fight my corner.”

• “Lord Sugar, this is absolutely 100% their fault. I did everything right, and you might as well fire every last one of them now to save us both some time.”

As the team numbers decrease, it’s probable (and understandable) that candidates will act for self-interest over Project success. This can mean intentionally pushing people out and later accusing them of not contributing. It can also be more passive than this. For example, a contestant who knows an idea will lead to disaster, may put up just enough of a fight to say they did all they could, but not enough to actually prevent the results from happening – leaving all responsibility with the decision-maker.

It’s worth remembering that only candidates on the losing team go up for elimination. Even then, the PM for each task gets to choose which people they bring with them into the firing line (get it?). If a candidate was working tirelessly towards winning tasks, but motivating their team and listening to their ideas on the way, they’d be in an almost un-fireable position. Any Project Manager on a losing team would be ill-advised to bring one of the most valuable team players into the boardroom; and any Project with team members like this will be more likely to succeed in the first place.

Our advice to the candidates? Focus on winning tasks and personal development – particularly with regards to teamwork and leadership. And, if you absolutely have to, save the bragging, back-stabbing and bus-throwing for the final stages. Best of luck!