Sky com How to not be like an apprentice

By Kate Faithfull | Tuesday 21 April 2009 |

Because what makes good TV doesn't make good business...

The Apprentice may get the ratings, but it has bosses up and down the country putting their heads in their hands.

'Alan Sugar's apprentices are the antithesis of what a boss wants from an employee,' explains business expert Ros Toynbee from

Be a good team leader

'To be a good team leader you've got to do more than make big decisions,' says Toynbee. 'You've got to be a good team member, so roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. I don't see that on The Apprentice - I see divas shouting, 'Do as I say'.'

Be humble

'Bosses don't want employees who think they know everything,' says Toynbee. 'Be honest about your skills. Talk about what you can bring to the team and what you can learn from other people.'

Take personal responsibility

'It's inevitable that things will go wrong sometimes, so when this happens don't blame other people,' advises Toynbee. 'Your boss will respect you more if you show you can learn from your mistakes.'

Listen to others

Unless you watch the show with earplugs in, you'll notice The Apprentice features regular arguments. 'Conflict is inevitable in the office but you've got to ask other people what they think instead of merely telling them their opinions are wrong. It's the difference between win-win and win-lose,' says Toynbee.

Say what you mean

There's a laughable amount of office jargon on The Apprentice, what with everyone giving 110%, blue-sky thinking, pushing the envelope and going forward. 'Say what you mean in clear English and your colleagues have a better chance of understanding you,' assures Toynbee.

Don't compete

Every episode of The Apprentice involves the contestants being divided into two teams that compete against each other. A good business model for real offices? 'No,' says Toynbee. 'Business evidence proves companies whose departments support each other are the most successful.'

Plan your work

'Apprentices are prone to launching into a task without planning at all,' says Toynbee. 'That's how mistakes get made.'

Deliver your work

It makes great TV when the apprentices forget the whole point of the task: to make money. 'Every time one team does zero planning, the other procrastinates, fiddles around and doesn't complete the task,' warns Toynbee. 'To be successful, you need to plan your work and deliver results.'