Mark Wright: Lord Sugar showed his ruthless edge against those who stand back

Winner of 2014’s The Apprentice, Mark Wright, explains how Lord Sugar is now minesweeping for candidates keeping in the background

Mark Wright: Lord Sugar showed his ruthless edge against those who stand back

Week five of The Apprentice 2018 saw candidates create, market and launch a shoe brand to major industry players. In a shocking twist, after project manager Jackie chose to bring back Kayode and Kurran into the boardroom, Lord Sugar rejected her choice and instead summoned the entirety of Team Collaborative. The message was clear – Lord Sugar didn’t want any more candidates taking a backseat in the process.

Indeed, Lord Sugar finished this week by giving a bit of an ultimatum to Kurran – who has so far survived by the skin of his teeth – that he must project manage the next task and prove he has the business nous needed to succeed in the process.

It’s easy to see why Kurran has kept in the shadows. As with many strong-willed and powerful business people keen to succeed, there tends to be a lot of butting heads. Ultimately, that leads to some characters taking it easy and not contributing as much. But in the show and the real world you need to prove you’ve got what it takes to survive in business almost instantly. Not putting ideas out there, not approaching the right customers to sell your product and not putting yourself forward will seal your fate.

There were certainly a lot of passengers in this episode looking to coast by on other candidates’ good work. This was probably from fear that being at the forefront will expose their lack of knowledge. However, it is important to understand that communication is key and there will always be team members with different strengths and weaknesses and being able to combine these will lead to success.

Although, inadaptability was a weakness candidates couldn’t afford this week. The losing team failed because not enough of them could adapt quick enough to selling a niche product, with Jackie managing the only major sale for the team. Some individuals – Kurran especially – didn’t like the final product design but that shouldn’t affect his ability to sell to the market. Jackie, on the other hand, showcased perfectly that the art of negotiating is transferable to different sectors and her team members were unable to adapt and follow suit.

Knowledge is key – focus on the aspects of your product or service that solve the customer’s need and accentuate the positives of what you are selling. Successful entrepreneurs and small business owners especially must wear multiple hats in order to deliver and you won’t always be able to work exactly in your comfort zone.

But even if you can talk your way out of just about any situation, not enough can be said for understanding your market ahead of time. The losing team, for example, created a shoe aimed at younger demographics but found many of the young people they interviewed during market research didn’t like the product. Budding entrepreneurs and small business owners can learn from their mistakes by recognising the vitality of customer feedback. It’s incredibly important to know who your audience is and what will – or won’t – appeal to them. It may even be worth bringing in an outsider or forging strategic partnerships to identify what will attract those you are trying to sell to. Obviously, The Apprentice isn’t the sort of environment where you can take that extra time to research your market but, fortunately, you can. 

Jasmine, Sarah and Kurran all faced Lord Sugar’s wrath for not contributing enough but Rick was ultimately given the boot after not being able to prove he was a significant member of the team. So with Kurran set in stone to be project manager next week, it will be interesting to see whether he will suffer the same fate and for the same reasons. 

Mark Wright
Mark Wright

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