Skills gaps highlighted by the new series of The Apprentice

However, as in previous series, rather than wowing with their business acumen, the hopefuls already look to be lacking some of the vital skills needed to make it in the business world.

We take a look at five skills gaps highlighted by the would-be entrepreneur.

Number troubles

Maths is many people’s Achilles’ heel but unfortunately number crunching crops up in almost all jobs – and in most tasks on The Apprentice, much to the contestants’ dismay.

Over the years we’ve seen some great maths mishaps, from failing to accurately add up costs, to suggesting wildly unrealistic profit margins. Last year, hopeful Katie Wright found herself in the firing line after a sausage selling challenge when she tried to get 1,200% profit on her bangers, while maths also appears to be a weak point among some of this year’s candidates, with the girls’ team wasting a large amount of their beer when they were unable to work out the ratios of flavouring needed during last week’s task.

And it’s not just the Apprentice hopefuls who have difficulty with maths, with figures from the National Numeracy Challenge showing that 17 million people of working age in England had the numeracy skills expected of children at primary school. learndirect will be fully supporting the National Numeracy challenge by working directly employers to help improve the everyday maths skills of their employees through our innovative training solutions.

Customer service blunders

‘The customer is always right’ seemingly has no place on The Apprentice.

Series six was a great example of how not to treat customers or prospective partners. Alex Epstein’s team lost the Fashion Challenge when he was rude to a designer whose clothes he wanted to stock, meaning she opted for the other team, and then he literally scared customers out of the store with his aggressive sales tactic.

In an increasingly competitive business world, there’s always a rival company customers can turn to, which is why good customer service is imperative.

Leadership errors

It’s well-known that the team leader always ends up facing Lord Sugar in the boardroom if their team loses, and more often than not they find themselves in a black cab on their way home.

Many of the candidates display terrible management skills, failing to delegate work, not briefing the team properly and being bossy and aggressive. This was demonstrated in series six when Dan was accused of being a ‘dictator’ and his team’s lack of respect for him led to a record defeat.

But being indecisive and laid-back can also count against team leaders, as Jaz found out in the first episode of the current series. After failing to take control and make decisions she also patronised rather than motivated her team and found herself on the receiving end of a ‘You’re fired’.

Language barriers

One of the best episodes of The Apprentice each year is when the candidates are taken overseas to either sell their products or buy items at the best price. Every year it becomes obvious that few of the candidates have any language skills, raising the question of how they plan to cope in an increasingly global business environment.

Back in series three, Team Stealth learnt the benefits of language skills when its members had to have an £85 banner reprinted after initially getting the translation wrong, contributing to their loss.

It is unrealistic to expect staff to be fluent in several languages, but knowing a few key phrases shows willingness and can go a long way to helping forge a relationship with overseas clients.

Poor presentation

The hopefuls on The Apprentice are always keen to show off their presentation skills; however, more often than not, they’re not up to scratch. Not knowing the answers to simple questions, wooden delivery and forgetting what to say are all common occurrences.

Series seven star Jim thought he had the gift of the gab, but he fell foul of one of the biggest presentation no-nos, gross exaggeration under pressure, when he promised Asda a £30 million ad campaign if they bought some of his biscuits.

You can have the best product or service in the world, but staff need to be able to talk about it effectively.

Training your staff is a key tool in maximising employee effectiveness and moving your business forward. To find out how we can help develop tailored training solutions to meet the needs of your business why not request a business information pack or call 0845 034 0849

Alan Sugar’s top five putdowns

  • “You remind me of the final scene from the Wizard of Oz, you look very impressive, but in my opinion, behind the curtains there’s nothing there. You’re fired!”
  • “I’ve heard you managed the Titanic restaurant. Well, this is another disaster.”
  • “You were devastated when you got a B in your GCSE French. You’re going to be even more devastated now because you’ve got a big F. You’re fired.”
  • “There’s only room for one bigmouth in my organisation, and that’s me.”
  • “You said on your résumé – ‘I’m Lord Sugar’s dream’. With the greatest of respect you’ve been a bit of a nightmare, and for that reason – You’re Fired!”