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Apprentice star Alexa Tilley reveals what she learnt from the show

Capgemini management consultant Alexa Tilley recently starred as an eager young contestant on the second series of hit BBC2 reality show The Apprentice.

Sadly, the Cambridge graduate is no longer on the telly, having unkindly been fired by Sir Alan Sugar at the end of the fourth episode. So what did Alexa learn from her experience?

Find out, in her own words, in the exclusive article below...

A business takeaway

So, my Apprentice rollercoaster ride has now come to an end - and what a ride it has been!

My business lessons learnt are:

Don't attempt to make 500 pizzas from scratch in a day

Stay away from chicken tikka pizza!

And make sure that 100 chickens are not ordered for 100 pizzas!

No, seriously - I now plan to do some business talks about the real business insights I can take from my Apprentice experience and I thought I would share a few of these in this article.

Thinking inside the box

I think it's first important to acknowledge that 'business tasks' for a TV audience are always going to be business tasks with a twist, as the pressure of the elimination aspect of the game mounts up and candidates must vie for position.

Quote�Successful business is about fostering long-term relationships�End Quote

So, although the Apprentice is all about the success of the team, when it comes to the boardroom, it is every man for himself. This manifests itself in encouraging certain, less than optimal, team member behaviour when working as a team (as people have to think about keeping themselves out of the firing line).

For me, successful business is about fostering long term relationships based on trust. That means working cooperatively and focusing on the overall team objective, rather than on the performance of specific individuals

Alexa's top tips

With the above in mind, I have eight top business tips for any successful project manager to remember.

Know your market. Be clear who you are aiming your product at and what their tastes and preferences are, in order to be able to tailor your product to these and maximise sales.

Keep control of your costs. Always ensure that your costs are kept to a minimum and that you can be sure that the revenue you will gain from selling your product will exceed these costs (a cautious forecast is always more advisable than an overly optimistic one).

Play to your strengths. Be clear on the respective strengths of your team members and make sure they are utilised to their best.

Surround yourself with good team players. The most important thing to every team member should be the success of the team and working with each other in the optimum way.

Have a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities of team members. Make sure that team roles are well understood and clear, as this will determine the sense of ownership that individuals have, and will normally result in a better performance as people strive to carry out their role to the best of their abilities.

Have the full picture. As a project manager, it is vital that you have an overview of the whole of the project, so that you can steer people towards the goal. Team members may be focused on their own areas, so it's up to you to be absolutely certain on the overall direction of the project, so that you can make sure that all the activity on the project supports this.

Learn from your mistakes. Making a mistake in business is fine, as long as you learn from it and correct your approach when you find yourself in that situation again.

Be yourself. If you are yourself in business, people will warm to you much better - and you will be able to get better results from your team and clients if they respect you as a person.

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Being an Apprentice and getting hired is one thing, but being an Apprentice and getting fired has taught me the most fundamental of all business lessons: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

I would therefore say that the successful entrepreneurs and business leaders are those people who move on rapidly from any business failure, learn from it, and come back with a stronger idea and an improved approach next time round - with lots of renewed enthusiasm to make it work better than the last time!

What next?

Find out more about Alexa Tilley, such as her role at Capgemini and her Young Enterprise involvement, by visiting her website.

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