The Apprentice Season has started again and for those not acquainted with the concept, this is where 16 of Britain’s ‘best’ business hopefuls compete against each other to be hired by Lord Alan Sugar. So far, this series appears to be no different to any other; over inflated egos, classic one liners, excessive whining and numerous silly decisions. There is, however, one difference this year; the candidates are not squabbling over that infamous £100,000 a year job but a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar to set up their own business. Usually right at the beginning, you can pick those candidates that will last longer than others. And three weeks in, we can probably name those who will be around for a while and those that are on borrowed time. This week’s Figure It Out, looks at some of the trends from the previous six series to help us pick out those candidates more likely to make the final. Looking at the winners of the previous series:

The first thing to note is that, despite the age range of all candidate being between 21-39, all the winners have been between the ages of 26-30. This may be because most candidates fall into that age range. The table below shows the number of candidates in each age group:

It is fair to say that the group 26-30 is proportionally the largest group but it is still makes up less than 50% of the overall candidates. In addition, the avid fans amongst you will know that Lord Sugar on occasions has fired someone for being too young / inexperienced or for being too experienced and set in their ways. So does Lord Sugar have an underlying preference for people within that age group? One thing we do know about Lord Sugar for certain, is that he came from humble backgrounds and made his fortune with very little to start off with. He has always stated his respect for those candidates who have started their own businesses and / or have got to where they are through hard work. In many boardroom face offs, a candidate with stronger business experience will survive over another, even if they were horrendous at the task in hand (last week’s Leon being no exception to this rule). It would also be of no surprise that candidates with higher levels of experience perform better in the interview stage of the show and therefore reach the final. Looking at the occupations of the winners of previous series, they’ve all either set up business and/or held high level managerial roles. Given the hunt for a business partner, rather than an employee, Lord Sugar may well be looking for the more entrepreneurial candidate. So let’s look at the profile of this year’s candidates:

Based on age and occupation – Leon, Vincent and Melody would seem to be the strongest candidates. But these measures are superficial; more importantly how have these candidates been performing so far? The table below shows the results for the last three weeks:

So far, it has been a great start for the girls, with three winning female project managers. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking quite so good for Leon and Vincent. So, if a candidate has already been brought back into the boardroom, does this mean their card has already been marked? As the number of candidates reduce week on week, the chances of having to face Lord Sugar increases and in the history of The Apprentice, no-one has ever survived four boardrooms. Therefore it is not great to have too many appearances in there too early. If we take a look at the previous winners and see how they were doing by week 3 of the show:

You will see that all the candidates had managed to avoid a boardroom date with Lord Sugar in those first three weeks. This improves the outlook for the girls (except Zoe) but of the boys, having been in the losing team more than once but not been in the boardroom, Jim and Tom appear the strongest candidates. With the two sets of information combined, this would suggest that Melody is the strongest candidate based on historic trends.

So what does Melody need to maintain this strong start and what do the other candidates need to do strengthen their case. Looking at the winners profiles over 10 weeks – before the interview stage:

A candidate would need:

  • At least one win at Project Manager
  • No more than one loss at Project Manager
  • And no more than two appearances in the Boardroom

And that’s the way to get hired…..