This morning on my drive to work I was listening to Nick Grimshaw’s Radio One Breakfast Show. He was interviewing Graham Norton, and they got onto the topic fame and fortune, or rather fortune and fame. This topic led to a discussion of Lord Alan Sugar, who they described as intriguing because he already has the fortune and now appears to want to be on TV thus wanting fame, yet he doesn’t necessarily want to be likeable as he is ‘mean’. This got me thinking about the notoriously enterprising Lord Sugar….
The dictionary definition of ‘mean’ is:
offensive, selfish, unaccommodating, nasty, malicious
Now judging by this definition, although Lord Sugar’s personality may not be the most ‘likeable’ I don’t necessarily think he’s ‘mean’. I think he is simply a strong business man who doesn’t tip-toe around when it comes to others’ mistakes, failings and flaws. In my opinion just because someone is truthful and straight to the point does not make them mean… it just makes them truthful and straight to the point!
I have enjoyed The Apprentice since the very first season. I have watched as it has developed from a series following contestants competing for a job, to a series following contestants competing for £250,000 investment and the chance to be Lord Sugar’s business partner. I have loved the boardroom scenes of pretty much every episode, and I must admit that though every now and then he fires my favourite contestant, in general I think he’s right in the decisions he makes.
Having also watched a few episodes of the Apprentice – You’re Fired it appears that the fired contestants also often think Lord Sugar was right in his decision to fire them. The faults that he points out exist, and the mistakes that he points of shouldn’t have happened. This doesn’t mean that the contestants are always happy about it, but they can generally see where Lord Sugar is coming from in what others seem to perceive as ‘meanness’. And though the rejected contestants may well be gutted that they’ve missed out on a very unique and potentially very profitable business partnership, the process of the Apprentice offers massive opportunity for personal development and reflection.
When I designed and presented my Skill Build lecture on What is Enterprise I spoke about Lord Sugar as an example of an enterprising individual. He is an impressive and successful entrepreneur, and he himself, like many other budding entrepreneurs, has lived and persevered through business failings and challenges. Maybe this is why people think of him as mean, because he’s seen enough and had enough business experience to know what will work and what won’t, and he isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and be honest with those around him – including the contestants!
I think that most people (and especially budding entrepreneurs) can learn a lot from Lord Sugar. Sometimes honesty is the best policy, and though he can be pretty frank when it comes to his opinion – look where that has got him.
So back off Mr Grimshaw and Mr Norton, leave Lord Sugar and his ‘meanness’ alone – he’s just brave enough to say his opinion out loud and to people’s faces, a personality trait that is often rare in business these days, never mind in everyday life!
Many thanks to Steven-L-Johson and Blogramblings101 for the images.