Mistakes On The Apprentice

NZ Apprentices Make Mistakes

I have been watching the NZ version of The Apprentice and I am guessing the potential apprentices have all been through classical business training schools.

Two of the first three challenges have been selling challenges.  The first was hot-dogs and the third was ice-creams.  On each occasion the two teams were running around the streets trying to make the most sales.

Both times the teams showed some innovation about how they could up-sell the products, or add value to the products to entice a sale.  But I think they were making a basic mistake.

Have you seen comedy shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyway” where actors/comedians are put in a situation, or given a prop, and asked to improvise a scene?

In these situations it is never about the “prop” it is about the improvisation around the object.  The prop becomes almost immaterial as the comedian creates a new world around the object.  A toilet roll may become a telescope, a wheel, a hair roller – it doesn’t really matter.

I believe that Mr Terry Serepisos is looking for an apprentice who can create a business no matter what the “prop” is that they given.  Selling hot-dogs, or selling ice-creams is not creating a business.  It is being distracted by the prop.

So what would I do?

Instead of running around the street trying to sell the props, I would concentrate on what I really have that can generate money and make the props fit.

How would I do that?

In their situation what do they have that is most valuable?  Hint: it isn’t ice-creams.

They have a potential 5 minutes of prime time television time that they could sell.  This is the about the live time each team gets when selling their products.

So I would be ringing businesses and asking if they would like 5 minutes on air and a box of ice-cream for five times the expected return of selling ice-creams on the street.  I am sure it would be possible to work out a deal with plenty of “product placement” and talk about the product of the successful business.

This kind of outside of the box thinking would entirely transform the game and show some real entrepreneurship amongst the potential apprentices – sadly lacking to-date.

For more understanding about how to think beyond the props I highly recommend  What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World by Tina Seelig