Selling ice to Eskimos

The Apprentice has hit our screens once again. Lord Sugar is back with his £250,000 and 20 candidates pitting their wits against each other armed with the usual swaggering bravado.

It’s the show that never fails to delight and baffle its avid viewers with the candidate’s monologues that show such levels of misplaced self-belief that they only leave us waiting to be entertained by their inevitable downfall.

Three episodes into this year’s series and we’ve already been handed some gems. There’s the brash plumbing business owner, Joseph Valente who describes himself as “the godfather of business” who wants the cars, the girls and “most of all, the power”. Or take the “disgustingly ambitious” operations executive Elle Stevenson and marketing agency director Richard Woods who rates himself as “a Swiss Army knife of business skills.”

Whilst hilariously entertaining for us viewers, there are serious lessons to be learnt here on how not to sell yourself.

We all have the need and ability to “PR” ourselves. People buy from people so it’s vital to not just sell your services, but sell yourself too. But what’s the key to this?

We all need a little injection of self-confidence in our day-to-day jobs but The Apprentice candidates’ exuberant confidence often leads to them over-promising on tasks and making themselves less likeable to their teams and the public.

Not long into episode one of this series and candidate Brett Butler-Smythe had already said: “I pride myself on not having any negative or bad traits about myself, they’re all good, they’re all positive.” There’s no doubt in my mind that candidates are forced to make these statements by coy producers who want good viewing, because surely someone can’t really think that highly of themselves, right?

Some people believe that to get ahead in business you need to be aggressive to get yourself heard, but this doesn’t need to be the case. People are remembered on their first impressions and it pays to play as a team.

For example, take 2011s winner and all-round Mr Nice Guy, Tom Pellereau. Tom was on the losing team a record eight times out of eleven but still went on to win the crown and most importantly, Lord Sugar’s cash. He worked hard, learnt from his mistakes and knew what changes needed to be made in the tasks – even if he was totally ignored in most cases. From the start, Tom successfully branded himself as being the nice guy who came out on top and it’s worked for him. His company has turned over £1.5million since launching.

Employers and clients alike don’t want to measure your self-belief and how much swagger you have, they want to simply understand whether you have the competency, experience and personality to fit in line with them.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest downfall of the majority of hapless candidates on the BBC show is overselling. Being honest about your capabilities and passing the baton on to another member of the team who might be able to provide more value in a particular area is key. Managing people’s expectations correctly and committing to a time-frame or project that is deliverable will not only gain you respect in time but also repeat custom.

Our top five Apprentice quotes of all time:

**Alex Epstein (2010)**

“I think outside the box, if I was an apple pie the apples inside me would be oranges.”

**Ricky Martin (2012)**

“I truly am the reflection of perfection.”

**Ella Jade (2014)**

“I am my own mentor. I ring myself up at 3am and shout motivational abuse at myself.”

**Zeeshaan Shah (2013)**

“I’m a ‘Great’ of my generation. I’m an innovator and leader in business. I take inspiration from Napolean.”

**Luisa Zissman (2013)**

“I have the energy of a Duracell bunny, the sex appeal of Jessica Rabbit, and a brain like Einstein.”