Why Young Apprentice Needs To Be Fired

Lord Sugar. Courtesy of bbc.c.uk

Why Young Apprentice needs to be fired.

Last night’s Final of Young Apprentice (formely Junior Apprentice, child of The Appentice) was a real let down. Following on from last week’s car crash of a semi final, where several innocent candidates “left the process” (read here), the final revolved around a pointless task and a protracted interview in the boardroom. Put simply, this format did not work and should be fired. If Young Apprentice is to return (and the voice over at the end of the programme assures us it is) then it needs to revise the format for the last 2 episodes.

So, why was last night such a disappointment? Well, it wasn’t anything to do with the candidates, James and Zara. Both came across extremely well and approached the task of producing a viral video for a new video game with energy and creativity. However, the task proved to be incidental. Yes, it was nice to see the ghosts of candidates past, and I would pay money to see Harry M  made to wear a pig costume throughout the presentation (surely some revenge there for his attitude in the series). But the task proved to be pointless. There was no professional assessment or scoring to differentiate the candidates, it just became a platform to launch a prolonged interview in the boardroom.

In the boardroom, the supporting former candidates were quickly dispatched and the interview began. We were reminded of the highs and lows of each candidate; James’ early manipulative approach of both team mates and customers, Zara’s preference to be a back-seat driver rather than volunteer to be PM. And yet they did good jobs in the final task, so that wasn’t going to differentiate them. Even the last opportunity to sell themselves / stab their opponent in the back was extremely polite.

So how did Lord Sugar decide upon a winner? Once it was revealed that Zara would use the money to develop her film production business, but James had no plans, other than to continue his Economics education, I felt really let down. James has no business, and has no plans for a business. Is he really going to use the £25K prize to pay his University fees?? As this process was about identifying a future entrepreneur, the prize could only go to Zara, and it did. On this basis, the right finalist won, but were James and Zara worthy of being in the final? Not James. It would be nice to know how the other candidates would have used the prize money.

The funny thing is, I remember feeling let down at the end of the last series of The Apprentice (read here), and for the same reasons. On both occasions, the big reveal about how the prize was to be used, suggested that the whole process had been a waste of time.

The real issue is the format itself. Both Young Apprentice and its older sibling have moved into Dragon’s Den territory. The original concept of looking for someone to work with Lord Sugar, and other people, validates the weekly tasks and generally led to tense, exciting finals. If these series are to continue, they need to either return to the original format, or find new tasks to fairly evaluate the entrepreneurial ability of the candidates. Oh, and the candidates themselves should have some real ideas worthy of Lord Sugar’s, and the viewer’s,  investment.

About markdecosemo
Consulting Trainer and Coach to healthcare and pharmaceutical professionals

One Response to Why Young Apprentice Needs To Be Fired

  1. Tim says:

    I’m pretty sure Sugar had already decided on Zara as his winner, but James really shot himself in the foot with the twin revelation that he had no business idea and that he hadn’t actually worked before – which would have made Zara the winner by default anyway.

    I’m also pretty sure that Sugar knew this already. I would be very surprised if one of the questions on the application forms isn’t something like What would you do with the £25,000 investment fund?”

    If that’s the case, the final was a done deal. Just as Tom Pellereau was always going to win in the last grown-up series. With the change in the prize from job to investment, Sugar is always going to favour candidates with strong business ideas (e.g. Tom, Susan Ma) over strong business all-rounders (Helen Milligan). I am hoping that the next series will see the selection of candidates slanted more towards genuine entrepreneurs rather than the standard mob – last year’s lot seemed much the same as any other year, despite the format tweak.

    Anyway, it’s been fun, and I’ve been genuinely pleased to see so many bright teenagers in this series. I don’t think Zara was anywhere near being the strongest overall – that would have been Harry H – but with a clear idea of what she wants to do and, on the whole, a positive set of performances in the tasks, she was a worthy winner nonetheless.


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