TV’s Apprentice isn’t the place you should be learning about business. If anything it’s simply a great way of unwinding as you watch incoherent and unstable contestants scramble to prove their worth anywhere near £250,000. Last night’s episode was a classic, but also held a lesson for all of us who care about helping businesses to survive and thrive in a more competitive age.

Of course there were arguments, rolling eyes, major gaffs and zero decision making. This week’s task involved selling a corporate box experience to prospective clients and their guests at Wembley. Being a hospitality task, customer satisfaction was key. Delivering a crap experience could mean the client asking for a refund.

The stage was set for an almighty Wembley clash and the teams did. One focused on profit before anything else, and ended up cutting the operation to the bone. They ran out of booze and served enough food for only half the guests. The losing team went in the opposite direction and bought enough drink and food for a small army. The differences between the two teams were stark. One focused on satisfaction, the other on winning through margin. Both proved they have a lot to learn in running a business.

Both lacked team work and basic business acumen. Neither team attempted to negotiate a return deal on drink and both showed an inability to coordinate team mates. Their only saving grace was that the task took place in the UK where traditionally customers are less likely to complain and demand a refund.

Karen says it all…AGAIN

But the one thing that did stand out were the final comments from the failed candidate who got the boot at the end of the show. As Project Manager she had made the decision that client satisfaction was key. She forgot the importance of margin but realised that in business delivering a crap experience means the potential for re-booking is next to non-existent.

The realisation that she wasn’t running a real business suddenly dawned during the boardroom cage fight. To win she needed to focus on profit only. The shows producers should have made re-booking the ultimate winning measure not pure profit alone.

There’s no doubt that a balance between satisfation and profit is essential but they’re hardly exclusive to one another. There is a realtionship between the two.

On entering the sad taxi at the end, the losing candidate mentioned how satisfaction was in some cases more important to her than money. She is right and wrong. Satisfaction in today’s competitive environment is everything but it can still be achieved while keeping an eye on the numbers.

Thankfully we’ve never felt compelled to appear on the Apprentice and happy to run our consultancy where satisfaction and profit go hand in hand.

At Strategy Activist we help businesses survive and thrive. To learn more visit us at or call us on +44 7786063053

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