You’re fired!

Thursday February 2, 2017

Lord Sugar and his eager bunch of apprentices are back! Cue the music…

Yes, the show that brought weekly hiring and firing (mainly firing) to our telly screens is back for another series. 18 candidates will square up and scrabble to impress Lord Sugar’s panel for a £250,000 investment to fund their business idea. Each week, the candidates are split into two teams: one will triumph earning themselves a glamorous treat, whilst the members of the losing team had better watch out.  After a good squabble and bicker in the local greasy spoon, they must head back to the boardroom, where Lord Sugar will send one of them packing in a Black Cab. You’re fired!

Aside from enjoying the show, can business owners actually learn anything? The positives and negatives of team working stand out. In almost every episode, there’s a fallout in one or both of the teams. When the stakes are high, this can happen under poor team management.

Team leaders would do better to utilise the individual skills of everyone in the group and match them to a role. They should also make sure they’re listening to their team instead of making sudden, unilateral decisions. To prevent fallouts, the team leader should intervene where possible to resolve disputes. It is a good idea to ensure everyone understands the reason that they are doing what they’re doing – that there’s a collective goal which is greater than any individual ones.

Although the recruitment process of the show is similar in essence to that of an assessment centre, it is maybe a little too thorough!! Any normal employer inspired to take a group of candidates through weeks of unpaid challenges in competition for one job may find they quickly lose applicants along the way.

The interviewing process is, of course, also portrayed. And it’s enough to make even the slickest interviewees quake in their boots. Sugar’s friend and new aide Claude Littner is well known from the show for being confrontational. He will rip apart a candidate’s business plans and even once called an interviewee a ‘parasite’ before terminating the interview! This grilling clearly isn’t normal interview etiquette. In the real world it wouldn’t do the interviewer or the business any favours.

The show’s pantomime-esque firings from Alan ‘not so sweet’ Sugar are the most popular part of the show. But far from being a simple procedure as depicted on screen, firing and redundancy is complicated. It can lead to costly tribunals. There is a thorough process to follow, so make sure you seek out expert advice before starting proceedings. If you’re an apprentice with any of the above, The HR Dept is there to help. Please do get in touch.

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