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Business 101 from “The Apprentice”

Kim Lucio

“The Apprentice” stands as one of the few reality shows that I believe can teach viewers a lesson or two about the business world. Instead of being a show about contestants going through obstacle courses or playing guessing games, the show takes real world business leaders/entrepreneurs and separates them into two teams. The teams then compete against one another in real world business situations and events. Donald Trump, the host of the show, then chooses a winning team based on the results of their work. The losing team has one participant eliminated that week. This season, it's men versus women, and all of the contestants are currently unemployed.

On last night’s episode, the teams put together a pedicab tour guide of New York City. The women’s team had two extra members, so they were believed to have an automatic advantage. However, the location they decided on led them to lose the challenge. Thinking they would make the most money near Wall Street, they decided to set up shop there. The men decided to camp out near Trump Tower, a highly populated area of tourists and families in New York. In the end, the men's team tripled the sales of the women’s team.

Quality not quantity

Even though the men's team was down two players, their strategy and effective thinking led them to win the competition. The same idea holds true for business in general. With the right minds and ideas, a team of as little as one or two can triumph over any size team in the business world. Having a large team that doesn’t work well together or can’t make effective decisions may weaken your business plans if you aren’t careful.

Think about your customer's needs first

The women assumed that trying to achieve sales on Wall Street would be the most effective idea since they figured that was where New York’s richest worked and they would have money to spend. But would a group of financial advisors really want to take time out of their busy day to take a tour of New York City? The team quickly found that the answer to this question was not at all. The men’s idea to sell around Trump Tower was effective since this was where tourists were visiting, and they were the mostly likely candidates for wanting to go on a trip of the city. This is a basic lesson of sales: set up shop where target customers are located and sales should come your way.

Take responsibility when you make a mistake

In the end, the women’s team started pointing fingers at one another as to why they lost the challenge. Taking the blame off of yourself instead of owning up to your mistake will get you nowhere in business. Learning from a mistake instead of pretending you aren’t to blame will make you a better strategist and thought leader.