In my view: Telly's 'ultimate challenge' is all in a day's work for us

The Apprentice, hosted by Sir Alan Sugar, was gripping viewing, bringing everyday business issues to reality TV and setting challenges around issues we face in our daily working lives.

I was particularly proud that for the ultimate challenge, the two finalists were set the task of creating and delivering an event as a way to integrate, test and demonstrate all their business skills in one project - as big Al said, "the ultimate test of their leadership style".

The brief was to fill a Thames cruiser with as many people as possible and make a profit, within two days and with a £50,000 budget. The success criteria were revenue, profit, value and satisfaction, gruffly translated as "who takes the most money and how profitable it is, as well as value for money for the punters and whether they would come back for more".

In one boat, Saira Khan sank into her natural fast and loud state. Having chosen her team primarily from sales, her "plan" was to choose the "nicest" boat, fill it with booze and music, not worry about a theme, sell tickets to no one in particular and promise an amazing party, trimming costs all the while.

In the other, Tim Campbell, who'd inspected the boats on offer with an idea already in mind, used his as a blank canvas. His aim, with his team of more creative talent, was less obvious than a mere party. He chose to run a fashion show for emerging designers, showing their collections to fashion students from local colleges.

While both events attracted similar numbers of guests, and indeed the first event made a small profit, the winner was clear. Campbell had an event with a purpose and a reason to exist. The venue was chosen for its ability to be shaped around its central theme and everyone knew why they were there. It was original, creative, strategically thought through and repeatable.

Khan's event had no purpose, a loose theme and was based purely on entertainment.

It was transactional and short-term - and she lost.

So feel good about yourselves as you go about your daily "ultimate challenge" and let the programme serve as a reminder. Consider why, who, how, when, and where in that order to avoid a similar fate to Saira ... "You're fired!" Neil Jones is a regular Event columnist.


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