So Stella’s Won The Apprentice

Stella English

So the winner of the UK’s business-based reality TV show, The Apprentice, is Stella, the level headed, steady nerved girl with, somewhat predictably, an under-privileged background.

(What would make anyone middle classed, or a management consultant, apply for a job there?)

This time’s Apprentice has made interesting viewing. Certainly the teams seemed more aggressive, appeared to have more to prove this time around, perhaps reflecting a selection process which was, according to Lord Sugar, designed to offer people a break (from those straight out of schooling with entrepreneurial flair but nowhere to go with it, to the newly redundant).

“Apprentice in Germany” href=”” target=”_blank”>The German challenge was a particularly interesting one, with only one of the teams reaching out and trying a few words of German. And oh, what a range of management styles and project management skills.

It would be wrong to comment about how Stella will fit in with Lord Sugar’s organization, but given the history of the programme, the ten week selection process, and what we know about his selection criteria, it’s likely that she’ll be a good cultural fit.

And it’s also likely that she’ll face the challenges facing most companies seeking global leadership – or at very least international leadership – in the current business climate. Lord Sugar’s diverse businesses will doubtless be looking to do more with less.

For people sat within organizations this throws up numerous management issues – those of managing others and those of managing yourself.

Dealing with change is always hard.  Teams have to adapt to working with people remotely as business strategies such as matrix structures and outsourcing are brought in to make cost savings. And it’s a fair guess that merger and acquisition activity will increase, as companies choose to combine forces to weather the financial storms, or simply decide that it’s not cost effective to continue.

The success or failure of such organizational structures often falls upon the shoulders of people like Stella – bright middle managers managing teams of people through the challenges that they bring. The best of them will result in empowered, engaged teams and employees, resulting in the important things done quickly with minimal bureaucracy.

Stella’s bright, gutsy and likeable and has showed herself throughout the process as a good ‘people manager’. It will be interesting to watch her progress.

Footnote: Lord Sugar

After leaving school in Hackney aged 16, Sugar started selling car aerials and electric goods out of a van he bought for £50. In 1968, he founded Amstrad, and now, over 40 years later, he has an estimated worth of £730 million, and was ranked 85th in the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List.

A former Chairman of Tottenham Hotspur FC, Sugar sold his Amstrad empire to Sky in July 2007. Sugar’s other companies include AMSCREEN, which offers digital screen media advertising networks, AMSAIR, which offers business and executive jets to a number of high profile clients around the world, AMSPROP, a property investment firm and VIGLEN, a manufacturer specialising in computers, networks and solutions.

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