Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lessons Learned From "The Apprentice"

Saw the double-header of The Apprentice last night. I still love that show even though this season just isn't as interesting as usual. The main reason I like it (besides watching normally smart and savvy business people squirm) is because of the little nuggets you pick up.

They aren't BIG nuggets (hence the term, nugget) and they may not even be all that original, but they usually represent a shift in thinking beyond the obvious that is admirable. A couple of examples last night came from the second episode of the night, where Lee first gets the 7-11 manager to get all the shelf space for the promotion, then almost gets a huge 1,000 sandwich deal to put them over the edge. Some of you may be thinking that they were both no-brainers, but I'm ashamed to admit that I'm not sure I would've asked for the first and I definitely wouldn't have thought of the second, especially with the pressure of time and TV cameras in my face.

[Side note: I wish they would tell the audience (maybe on the website?) exactly what the criteria for each challenge is -- e.g. last night, they said that the objective was to increase sales by the biggest percentage. They didn't say anything about profit or even what product needs to be sold, but I guarantee that there must've been much more criteria. After all, why not sell the 1,000 sandwiches for $2? The way they stated the objective, it was all about revenue increase, not maximizing or even making profit.]

Anyway, another couple of examples from past seasons (that I can remember) are putting advertising on the pedicabs and using a geo-targeted mailing list from WeddingChannel.com (or TheKnot or some other big wedding site) to get New Yorkers to the make-shift one-day wedding dress sale.

Why am I writing this? Because I think we all (defintely me included) fall into the habit of thinking of our world in terms of the constraints we impose on ourselves. With just a tiny amount of -- yes, I'm going to say it -- out-of-the-box thinking, we might be able to make a big impact, rather than just spinning our wheels trying to make minute, incremental gains.

What are your favorite nuggets from the show?


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