I watch The Apprentice – he UK version with Lord Sugar and when I spot it in the TV listings, the US version with Donald Trump.  Four programmes into the new series in the UK and I have to say I’m watching it for negative rather than positive reasons.

None of the candidates seem to be covering themselves in glory so far.  Each episode seems to be full of poor judgements and dubious behaviours.  Is this the way people in successful businesses interact with each other?  When multi-disciplinary teams come together to work on projects, are they managed in a way that some of the tasks are managed on the programme?  Having said that, the programme is clearly set up in a way which encourages the candidates to be very competitive and in such an environment perhaps it’s understandable that the behaviours are sometimes questionnable.

Actually the focus of my frustration with the programme is not so much with the candidates, it’s more with Lord Sugar.  He interrupts the candidates, he talks over them, he sometimes insults and belittles them.  They get little credit for the things they’ve done well and there’s little explanation about the things they haven’t, and almost no guidance at all about the qualities and behaviours he’s looking for in his business partner. 

What is Lord Sugar’s role?  Is he the leader, the venture capitalist, a mentor, a coach?  Whichever it is, his style seems to be based solely on positional power.  It’s all about his position on the show and implicitly his success in business and his huge wealth.  And he regularly reminds the candidates of all this.  In this weeks episode one of his lines was "This is my boardroom, this is my process, this is my money".  Now clearly his track record has earned him the right to use this style.  But it’s all a bit one-dimensional.

On the other hand, in the US version of the show whilst Donald Trump sometimes uses positional power he much more often uses personal power.  Whilst positional power comes from external factors, personal power comes from within, it’s the ability a leader has to influence others through their confidence, assurance and charisma.  In my opinion it’s more constructive – and a style I’d rather use and follow.  And it’s also one of the reasons I rate the US Apprentice better than the UK version.

Which do you prefer?

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