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Dan McGuire on The Apprentice, Innocent and a brave new business

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A couple of days after I finished last month’s column I flew to Miami for a big staffing conference. It was our first official appearance on North American soil since ‘Broadbean Inc’ was formed and coincided with Kel opening our office in Orange County.

I was pleasantly surprised by the view of the market there. It would be wrong to suggest that they were all brimming with confidence but the general feeling was that they had pretty much hit bottom. No one was sure how long it would be before the economy actually picked up but, surrounded by CEOs, presidents and owners of the largest staffing firms in the US – who had no need to talk it up, I left feeling very excited about the market there and our chances of success.

Whilst in Miami I took a day out to meet with serial entrepreneur Ben Way in Fort Lauderdale. Ben’s an impressive guy – sitting in the sunshine in his new surroundings, sporting a recent tan and telling me about some of his new ventures, he looked every inch the example of ‘how to do it’. Young entrepreneurs reading this – take a look at Ben’s story.

Speaking of young entrepreneurs, my fellow Aldridge Foundation board member, Raj Dey, has just launched Enternships – a free service which matches ambitious students and grads with “internships in entrepreneurial environments”. Raj doesn’t just get social entrepreneurship, he lives it. Big names such as Brent Hoberman, Peter Jones and Lord Billimoria have already advertised for enterns so I’m recommending you take a look, especially if you already take people on work experience and internships.

What has happened to The Apprentice? Fair enough, it still makes for a reasonably entertaining show and Sugar is still as sharp as ever but a business show it ain’t. It frustrates me to see some of these idiots being given airtime as there is some outstanding young talent in this country: individuals capable of trouncing the current crop of clowns, just waiting to be discovered. Are they being denied an opportunity due to the producers’ propensity for only entertaining people with the business experience of a small child and an ego Russell Brand would be proud of? I reckon it’s just that the real cream of the crop have realised The Apprentice isn’t the stepping stone to greatness that it once was.

It would seem that Google are getting closer to buying Twitter for the business end of several hundred million dollars. Fair play to Evan Williams who appears to have made a career from selling businesses to Google. I have no doubt Twitter will find a way to make a lot of money but I still hate it! You do, though, have to admire Williams’ co-founder Biz Stone for his awesome comment that Twitter would “experiment with revenue generating models this year”. What a legend!

A final thought on Innocent. They got a bit of a kicking in the Sunday papers for selling a share to Coke. I say good luck to them! To those who knock them, I ask two questions: was their ethics and values genuinely your predominant reason for buying their products even over taste? And, in their shoes can you honestly say you’d have done anything different? If not, keep your mouth shut.

Until next month…

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