The Apprentice is back for it’s 10th series this month and so far the ratings show that Britain is in no way tiring of the format with the opening show posting the best series opening figures since 2011. With the usual line up of horrid caricatures on display and many of the contestants gloriously unaware of how often they stray into self-parody the show certainly provides compelling entertainment. In many ways, much of the behavior displayed on The Apprentice is a fantastic example of how not to practice teamwork or conduct business.

The Apprentice - contestants

A hard task

The format of The Apprentice does much to undermine any notion of teamwork right from the start; success hungry contestants looking to undermine their competition and protect themselves at all costs are not the best team members to have. Occasionally, there are the odd times when teams realise that their best chance of success and thus survival, lies in their ability to cooperate and work collectively. However, the latest episode was not one of those times.

Do thy Lord’s bidding

The Apprentice - You're fired!From the onset, one member of the boy’s team, Robert, broke one of the cardinal rules of business – he completely shirked the boss’s instructions. When Lord Sugar advises you to take on the Project Manager’s role, what you don’t do is ignore him; as Robert found out to his cost and untimely exit from the show. What followed from the boy’s team was a clear display in everything you shouldn’t do when operating as a team. With project management duties given to Scott, we saw what happens when no leadership or clear decision-making is given to an unmotivated team; with an inability to communicate and work together, their end product was unimaginative and poorly thought out.

At every step, the boy’s team had no cohesion or clear strategy, which in turn led to complete failure of the task. Special mention must be given to key sales and pitch man Daniel who felt it appropriate to tell a potential client, during a pitch, that he wouldn’t wear the product in public.

A Victory only in name

The girl’s team may have won the task, but it was more of a victory by default than anything else. Suffering from the same lack of proper leadership as with the other team, the girls managed a bit more coherence than their rivals, however, self-interest still played too strong a hand throughout the task and far too many team members seemed happy to drift into the background leaving the major decisions and ultimately, any blame, to others.

Do’s and Don’ts for Task Success

Both groups seem to be suffering from a paralysis of fear at the moment. It’s clear that in the unnatural world of The Apprentice contestants are not always the ideal team players. Huge ego’s, demanding personalities and a fair few charlatans are common participants; they might make good television but you wouldn’t necessarily want to work with them.

With all that being said, this week’s episode was particularly painful to watch, so here’s a few do’s and don’ts for future team leaders:

Do

  • Encourage an environment where everyone’s input is valued
  • Know the strengths of your team members
  • Set out a clear strategy that everyone can follow
  • Assign tasks clearly and to the right people
  • Be decisive; make sure everyone knows who is making decisions.

Don’t

  • Ignore Lord Sugar – ever!
  • Become indignant if your idea isn’t picked.
  • Make it clear that any failures will be your team members’ fault and not yours.
  • Try to please absolutely everybody.