The Apprentice 2011In last week’s analysis of The Apprentice (week 8), I highlighted three people and promised a short blog on each.

In the first of these, I want to look at Melody Hossaini’s behaviours and what we can learn from them. �I want to consider the question:

Can we reconcile ruthless ambition with team contribution?

Melody Hossaini

Melody Hossaini

Melody Hossaini - links to Melody's LinkedIn page.

On paper (well, on web pages) Melody appears to be one of the strongest candidates. �Her achievements are impressive. The website for her business, Inspirengage International features a personal endorsement from Nobel laureate Eric Chivian, and who wouldn’t shout about that.

Melody, as we saw in the boardroom, is proud of the recognition she has achieved and it has been impressive. �So why was Lord Sugar so dismissive of it? �I read his response as sarcasm. �We know that Lord Sugar values achievements over credentials and I think his point was this: Melody focuses on her recognition, rather than her achievements.


Melody’s episode 8 performance was ruthlessly pushy, blinkered, greedy and a little bit nasty. In the boardroom, she showed little concern for anything but winning at all costs. This extreme solipsistic behaviour seems at odds with her business, a social enterprise that aims to improve young people’s lives worldwide. �It is a global business, as Melody told Lord Sugar, but also, I suspect, essentially a one woman business.

Solipsism: view that the self is all that
exists and all that can be known
(the kinder of two definitions I have found)

How can we reconcile the solipsism we saw with the need to be a team player? �After all, many of the most effective social campaigners have also be ruthlessly dedicated to their cause and prepared to brush aside any opposition to create the change they perceive to be necessary.

And how could Lord Sugar harness Melody’s energy and ruthlessness for business ends?

We know that for all of his own boardroom bluster and aggression, Lord Sugar has high ethical standards and wants a candidate who will be able to act respectfully while being as assertive as they need to be to succeed in business. �We also saw that he liked Melody’s ruthless streak, though he did deprecate her greed in not sharing business leads and therefore risking that the team would fail to capitalise on all of them.

Melody has to learn to channel her ruthlessness and self-promotion into a ruthless defence of her business and a concerted promotion of that business ahead of herself. �Lord Sugar has made his millions and can afford the luxury of promoting himself, but let’s look at other hugely successful business leaders. �Indeed, consider Management Today’s November 2010 list of Britain’s Most Admired Companies.

  1. Unilever
  2. Serco
  3. Shell
  4. Sky
  5. Whitbread
  6. Berkeley Group
  7. Rolls-Royce
  8. Tesco
  9. BG Group (British Gas)
  10. Aggreko

Of the top ten, how many Chief Execs have you heard of? �How many of them do we know anything about, other than their business activities? When they are on the radio or TV, it is to promote their company.

The Conclusion about Melody

Being a powerful team player means putting all of your energy into the team. �Being a great team leader also means putting all of your energy into the team. �If Melody can get that message and convince Lord Sugar she’s got it; she can win.

Brilliant Project Leader by Mike ClaytonMore on team leadership in my forthcoming book,
Brilliant Project Leader, to be published in
December by Pearson Education.



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