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Sir Alan Sugar - the £700m owner of AMSTRAD, is presented with 14 candidates, he must split the candidates up into two teams each week, and set them a business task. At the end of the each task, Sir Alan will fire one member of the losing team. Until Week 12 when one of the candidates will get a £100,000 with Sir Alan and become 'The Apprentice.' Written by
The Apprentice began life as a reality TV show in the UK with the intention to spotlight the business world by focusing on a business leader (Alan Sugar) and his search for an apprentice to mould into a business leader like himself. There is now a US equivalent with Donald Trump as Sugar's US equivalent.
The success of the first two series meant the show was moved to a premium slot on BBC1. One of the drawbacks of the show's success was that it attracted candidates who were more interested in using it as a platform into the public eye - most notably Katie Hopkins in series 3.
The 7th series has just finished: Mr Sugar has since been knighted ('Siralun' was his nickname for a while) and then made a peer (Lord Sugar), in part because of his public standing as a business leader. The format of the 7th series has altered: Lord Sugar is no longer seeking an apprentice but a business partner to invest in. The process by which Lord Sugar selects his apprentice and now business partner remains the same however.
Each episode we see the contestants divided into two teams to undertake a task designed to test core business skills. The tasks are structured so that there will always be a winning and losing side and on the losing side one contestant will get fired. Whittling away the candidates assists Lord Sugar in deciding who will be crowned his apprentice/business partner. Each episode a different contestant takes a turn as the Project Manager (PM) for the team on the particular task. This position is as perilous as that of Damocles's and often encourages manipulation within the team to ensure the PM gets fired if the task is lost. The PM of the losing team will be asked to select two team members to return with them to the boardroom where they will face a grilling about their individual efforts before one is fired.
Buying and selling, negotiating, marketing and advertising, pitching and risk ventures are regularly tested as is the ability to manage, listen, work co-operatively and identify problems and their solutions. It is exciting watching the development of individual contestants' personalities and the group dynamics.
Assisting Lord Sugar are two trusted side-kicks: Nick Hewer, who has been part of the show from the beginning and Karren Brady, recent replacement for Nick's original partner Margaret Mountford. They function as Lord Sugar's 'eyes and ears' following one of the two teams and reporting back in detail as to how the team functioned. Their presence and feedback is often as interesting and hilarious as are Lord Sugar's own acerbic one-liners and summary put-downs.
I have been a fan since series one and have learnt lots about business as well as team psychology. As each series progresses I grow attached to the candidates and this is part of the show's strength. The task, the boardroom grilling, which tests a candidate's mettle, and the personalities make for compelling viewing.
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