The Apprentice, Series 10 The Final: We came, we saw, we didn’t concur …

Their final task, now that the business plans are out of the bag, is – for change – hugely relevant: launch your own business. In the interests of realism, they have two days for the whole shebang, and the focal point is a promo video. Later in whatever week this is – and it’s not December, as no-one seems to be wearing their thermals – the Ballroom will fill with industry experts (in two batches, I hope – most of the skilled coders I know aren’t people you’d send down the shops for a pair of tights) and their collected wisdom will inform the final decision. But not before we all get to relive that moment at school when everyone got picked for basketball. Enter eight evictees from ‘the process’ – some of whom, I can’t help but notice, were rather early fallers. One rudely assumes some people couldn’t be talked into doing this all over again.

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The Apprentice Series 10 Week 11: Five, Four, Three, Two …

This isn’t about being an ‘apprentice’: it’s about being an investment-worthy trading partner in a start-up venture. Even if it were about recruitment, I always thought that started with dissecting the CVs? And, in this case, the business plan. I reckon we could have got shot of at least 15 of them in Week One. Filter out all those that trigger Lord S’s perceived bêtes noires - no sole traders, no bankers, no lawyers, nothing that reeks of Shoreditch or anything posh. Nuffink poncey, guv.

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The Apprentice Series 10, Episode 10: I’m just mad about saffron

This week’s task is about puddings. Puddings usually mean a) creamy, fatt,y sugary (no pun etc) delights, and – more importantly – b) the scintillating dinner party is all over bar the coffee and we can be home by midnight if we make a lame excuse about baby-sitters. (Does the world realise how the childless suffer needlessly on such occasions? “We need to go, I’m afraid. You know … the cat” just doesn’t cut it). In the spoilt world of The Apprentice, however, pudding means we still have at least two courses left. There's always cheese.

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The Apprentice Series 10 Episode 9: Money for old rope

The episode read mostly as a fit of pique at being outwitted. If the devil is in the detail, there is an entire production crew to check how watertight an item description is. Inventing rules on the fly might be a fair description of slightly too many work places, and authority is authority … but there are better ways of maintaining admiration and respect. Tonight, ‘poor show’ had at least two meanings.

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The Apprentice Series 10 Episode 8: Nine green wellies …

If the disembodied woman who places the call to the Apprentice House at 5.30am is as excited as the candidates to be announcing this episode’s kick-off, she hides it well while the surviving nine dash about like rather self-important kittens in their keenness to be transported to Chiswick House with their overnight bags. In the admittedly rather splendid surroundings of ‘a slice of the country in the heart of the city’ (#newsflash – London has a heart and it’s in the Borough of Hounslow!), Lord Sugar informs them that the rural market – which seems a rather woolly concept to me – is worth £200bn pa. British rather than American billions, one assumes. Either way, that’s a lot of Range Rover Discoveries.

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Apprentice Series 10 Episode 7: Plink Plink Fizz …

The candidates are standing in the foyer of the US Embassy, watching Lord Sugar on another screen. Some – oh, the capacity for in-fighting – of each team will be off to New York to produce an advertising campaign (tv ad, digital billboard and website) for a soft drink to be aimed at the US market. I couldn’t help something was missing here. No, not just observations that some of them wouldn’t sparkle after a fairy light enema or fizz in a quicklime bathtub – the actual drink. It turned out that they would be inventing that, but it just didn’t seem that important.

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Supporting business growth by supporting your managers

While dictionaries might define ‘managing’ as ‘succeeding in surviving or in achieving something despite difficult circumstances’, that is not a definition any organisation should wish to apply. ‘To manage’ must mean more than simply – somehow, despite everything – to cope. But what can organisations do to ensure their line managers do not feel as if their performance falls into the latter category?

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Highly engaged, but with yesterday?

Happy, committed and engaged people really do perform better at work, although there is – or at least one would hope – a difference between love and enthusiasm. I’m enthusiastic about Ajax FC, prawn toasts and historic monuments – I’m nothing if not single-handedly diverse - but none of these are relationships that I’m seeking to actively consummate. But what we might call ‘the happiness industry’ seems insistent on wanting to see the L-word as often as possible.

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Taking it on-board, not taking it on the chin

Where feedback is concerned, there is a shared responsibility that underpins the efforts of both giver and receiver: the genuine intention to support the future creation of better work. Giving it is a responsibility to be wielded with intelligence, and receiving it opens up options and avenues that may previously have been closed to us.

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In-sourcing – the new out-sourcing?

Maybe what lies at the nub of the idea of disbanding the HR function is the concept of sense of purpose – not for ourselves, but as judged by other people. It’s not our own answer to ‘what are you here for, exactly?’ that’s the issue, it’s how other people see it: not the purpose we think we serve, but the one that others think we do. Or, more critically, don’t.

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