The Apprentice 2012: What are entrepreneurs made of?

By: Rachel Miller

Date: 19 March 2012

Yay! The Apprentice is back on Wednesday 21 March on BBC1. Sixteen would-be entrepreneurs are champing at the bit to show Lord Sugar, Karren Brady and Nick Hewer — and us — what they are made of.

And to whet our appetites, the BBC has published short clips of each of the candidates setting out their stall. But the question is — do they sound like Britain’s next big entrepreneur? Here’s a little preview:

Adam Corbally: “I’m a funny guy. I’m a nice guy. I’m a people person. I’m a buyer, I’m a seller, I’m a manager, I’m a planner.”

Bet you’re humming the tune to “I’m a Joker” right now…

Duane Bryan: “I want to be a whole new breed of winner. So what that means is that I have to be harsh, it means I have to be kind. I have to be both sides of the coin.”

Gabrielle Omar: “I will say yes to everything. I do have a competitive streak in me. You don’t need to babysit me. I’m ready now.”

Tom Gearing: “I’d say I’m pretty assured, confident, charismatic and some people say I’m quite good-looking as well.”

Jade Nash: “It’s about status, it’s about money. What I really want is to be able to retire when I’m 45 but really, being a workaholic, I’ll probably carry on until I’m 80.”

Stephen Brady: “I’m a true believer in that if you sit on the fence the only thing you’re going to get is obviously not very comfortable. I’m in my business prime and what I mean by that is I’m somebody now who’s ready to take off.”

Jane McEvoy: “I genuinely believe if you work really hard and you put everything into it then you can win. You don’t have to play any nasty games or lie or cheat.”

Laura Hogg: “I’m definitely not here to make friends. Business is business as far as I’m concerned. I’m going to be one of Scotland’s next big exports and, you know, Lord Sugar is not going to want to miss out on that.”

Michael Copp: “My first rule in business is to make money — loads of it. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Everything I have got and I’ve achieved I’ve worked damn bloody hard for. In a couple of years’ time I’m going to be a multi-millionaire.”

Bilyana Apostolova: I’m completely self-made. I left Bulgaria when I was 17. My home was a run-down communist block of flats and now I’m on the 27th floor of the Gherkin. I mean wow what a journey. I don’t really tolerate idiots and my strategy with them is just to ignore them.”

Jenna Whittingham: “I’m quite a likeable person. Not a lot of people dislike me. What frightens me is not being successful.”

Katie Wright: “I can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I’m really irritating. You’ve got to be in the right mood to put up with me. I’ve got a fantastic business idea that’s going to make Lord Sugar lots of money if he comes on board. If he doesn’t I’ll just make a lot of money myself.”

Azhar Siddique: “The aim in business for me is to avoid any form of confrontation, the reason being is that it affects your credibility, it affects your reputation in business and more importantly bad news travels a lot further than good does.”

Maria O’Connor: I own my own business and I’m only 20 years old. Most of the other candidates are working in marketing or that sort of thing but I’ve worked in the real world. With Lord Sugar, I could wrap him round my finger, I could make him love me.”

Nick Holzherr: “I do blame others for things going wrong. I’m a technology entrepreneur that has a great idea that I can definitely deliver. My first rule of business is that every business should make a profit. I have experienced failure and success so I know how to run a business well.”

Ricky Martin: “I’m the reflection of perfection because other people look at me and they want to be me. Lord Sugar will probably find my ego a little bit difficult.”

It’s all shaping up nicely. We’ve got the usual mixture of confidence bordering on egomania and competitiveness bordering on aggression.

But the question is, will any of the candidates go on to become the next Lord Sugar or Sir Richard Branson? Is this kind of bravado what running a successful business is all about?

Sure – having self-confidence and determination is crucial. But an entrepreneur must also have a real passion for what they do. They must be able to handle the detail as well as seeing the big picture. They need to be able to take calculated risks and be prepared to learn from failure. Above all, they have to be good with people – employees, partners and customers.

And let’s not forget who won last year. Tom Pellereau, a thoughtful inventor, was hardly the poster boy for brash self-confidence.

The great thing about the Apprentice is that it is a learning experience. It’ll be fascinating to see how the candidates develop over the coming weeks.

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