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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 May, 2005, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Key lessons from The Apprentice
The Apprentice, which has seen 14 candidates competing for a job with the charismatic entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar and a six-figure salary, has been a ratings winner for the BBC. With the final episode on Wednesday night, what have been the key lessons for success?

Sir Alan Sugar
Sir Alan Sugar insists The Apprentice is not a reality show

Despite the success of The Apprentice, which has averaged 2.8 million viewers a show, Sir Alan maintains it is "more business than reality".

"It is a business programme, but realistically, a lot of people will see it as a reality programme because there's an elimination process," he tells BBC News. "There is a very serious underlying meaning to each programme - a lot of people are going to learn some great business lessons from it."

Here are some of those lessons:


In week one, the contestants were split into two teams and given a few hours to sell as many flowers as they could.

The girls' team made the least profit and therefore lost because, Sir Alan said, they were trying to shine as individuals, "spending more time questioning the leader than actually doing the selling".

KEY LESSON: Authority must be respected. If individuals trying to shine in a competitive situation do so at the expense of their colleagues they will fail.


The teams had to create and pitch a prototype product to retail at 10 or less for week two's task.

Team leader Lindsay went against the wishes of all five fellow members of the girls' team to choose her "Secret Signals" idea over their plan for a toy robot. Her idea - cards for children to make semaphore signals to each other - was panned by a panel of experts who said it was redundant in the age of texting and that they preferred the robot idea.

KEY LESSON: "If a room full of people tell me I'm wrong then even I will listen to them," Sir Alan said.


In week four, the task given to the teams, which had by now been made unisex, was to each run an area of the toy department in the Harrods store, in London.

The Apprentice finalist Tim Campbell
Finalist Tim Campbell became Sir Alan's apprentice

The "First Forte" team, led by eventual finalist Tim, made strong early sales after recruiting a face painter and giving toy demonstrations to attract customers while the "Impact" team, without any gimmicks, initially struggled.

After consulting with the store's own staff, a bear costume, donned by Paul, was unearthed which proved extremely popular with children and parents and ultimately led to a winning profit.

KEY LESSON: When you're out in the field, keep an open mind, learn from others and take action.


The art gallery was the backdrop for week five's challenge with each team trying to sell the work of a particular artist.

First Forte again looked like early favourites, selling piece after piece of reasonably-priced artwork.

But Impact's James, already something of an expert in the field, realised there were likely to be some wealthy art lovers at the gallery night and duly led his team to victory with the sale of just two expensive pieces.

KEY LESSON: Knowing your market gives you the upper hand.


In week eight, the teams had to research, develop and manufacture food products to sell at a farmers' market.

The Apprentice finalist Saira Khan
Saira Khan made it down to the last two

Impact bought relatively expensive ingredients - including cheese and meat - in an effort to produce a range of "quality" soups while First Forte made chutney and jam at the suggestion of eventual finalist Saira. First Forte, with cheaper ingredients, made a profit of 364 while Impact made 149 and were shown pouring gallons of unsold soup away.

Sir Alan sacked Impact leader Ben for making the "fatal error" of not controlling costs.

KEY LESSON: Margin is king and the place to check for potential profit is not in the day's takings but in the amount of wasted food.


In the penultimate week, the remaining four candidates had to undergo gruelling boardroom interviews to claim a place in the final two.

Saira was embarrassed by proclaiming "I hate liars" before being caught out for "exaggerating" her CV.

Paul claimed to have a 3m property portfolio but stalled when asked about his mortgages and was subsequently fired.

KEY LESSON: As a candidate, never try to be someone you are not - you may well get caught out.

The final episode of The Apprentice was broadcast on BBC Two on Wednesday, 4 May, 2005 at 2100 BST.



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