The Apprentice: Learning Lessons From Eccentrics

Bill Knell

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Recent incarnations of The Apprentice featured some very unusual people. While I’m sure they were chosen to spice up the show, none of them seemed to possess the skills or expertise needed to compete on that level. If the show was supposed to be all about people vying for a mega-management position with the Trump Organization, these were candidates with the wrong stuff for that much-coveted spot. While the show and more conventional candidates may not have benefited from the antics of these bizarre applicants, serious viewers can certainly profit from their mistakes and eccentricities.

Apprentice 3 gave us the amazing Danny. Looking like a leisure suit hippy, this guy loved to strum the guitar and sing. He had a gimmick, but couldn’t seem to consistently deliver the goods as part of a team. Apprentice 4 introduced the often incomprehensible and seemingly ineffectual Markus. He became an outcast in the competition having proved to be uninspiring and frustrating to colleagues during various tasks. But my personal favorite was Brent from Apprentice 5. Here was a guy who loved to tell everyone about how much he would bring to the table. However, he didn’t work and play well with others and became known more as a big eater than a heavyweight performer. To challenge him was to face a verbal barrage and witness his own special brand of temper tantrum.

When it came to working as part of a project team trying to successfully complete a challenging task, these characters forgot all about FLEXABILITY. As The Donald has often demonstrated, you don’t have to compromise to be flexible. You just have to be willing to try a new approach, consult others with more expertise and go with the flow when you see that it benefits everyone involved including you. Instead, Danny, Markus and Brent became obstacles of their own creation. Each decided that every task would be approached from the standpoint of their own philosophy and methodology. This made them appear as unyielding and incompetent, even though all three had achieved a measure of success within their chosen careers.

Another important lesson to be learned from these three eccentrics is that being UNCONVENTIONAL is not always desirable when you‘re faced with a tough project and rapidly approaching deadline. In order to think outside of the box, you have to know what’s inside. That means being familiar with time-proven techniques and procedures that have worked for others facing similar tasks. It also means being intellectually prepared. People with a passion for success will equip their mental toolbox with a willingness to learn and the ability to be consistent, intuitive, flexible, creative, decisive, unpretentious and motivated. If we judge them by their contributions to each task as Trump did in the boardroom, we see that Danny, Markus and Brent failed to exhibit evidence of these qualities which can help produce outstanding project team members and excellent leaders. While seeking to be his Apprentice, many candidates who compete on the show end up fired because they fail to follow the example set by Trump.

While most people think of Donald Trump as the ultimate Entrepreneur, he is also an astute businessperson. While he leads with authority and has no trouble getting his point across, Trump also inspires people with success and motivates them with opportunity. When it comes to moving his business empire forward, he doesn’t just think about making money. Trump is always looking for new opportunities to make more money by providing the very best product or service to those who can afford it. With his name boldly emblazoned on and associated with everything he does from a business standpoint, Trump has to insist on a superior level of quality. As a successful innovator, The Donald is second to none.

The Apprentice unashamedly presents the good, bad and ugly of people competing in the workplace. It’s a fantastic opportunity for success-driven individuals to learn the ABC’s of business behavior. If there is one vital lesson to be extracted from that aspect of the show it is that being eccentric isn’t a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t make us own our worst enemy.

Author: Bill Knell
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