Interview with Azhar Siddique, fired from The Apprentice 2012
Interview with Azhar Siddique
MSN had a chat with The Apprentice 2012's Azhar about being on the show, dishonesty in the boardroom and, of course, strategy....
It's a great episode - how did it feel watching it back?
It felt really surreal and I thought 'did that actually happen?' But, it turned out pretty much exactly how I thought it was going to.
What was the highlight and lowlight of being on the show?
The highlight was definitely meeting all the people in the process. I went in there with my business head on and I walked out having met some really cool people.
Was your experience on the show everything that you thought it would be?
It was. When you run your own company and are the boss of people, you value honesty and integrity and the show was pretty much what I expected, but I found it hard to cope with people's dishonesty.
Who was dishonest to you on the show?
If you saw last week's episode, with the boardroom, Stephen was quite quick to shift the blame onto other people on me. And, business for me, it's black or white - you're either right or wrong and there's no grey areas.
But, the boardroom , people go into grey areas and try and shift the blame. If I make a mistake, I'm happy to admit it, but if they made a mistake they were happy to pass it onto someone else.
Do you think that because the other candidates were being dishonest, they were playing games?
Yeah I think they were, it's clear to see. Morals should have been brought into that boardroom. I think because Jade and Laura get along very well, I think it was a favouritism thing, so she didn't get brought back into the boardroom.
But, I think processes like these or any business environment should be based on merit and not based on anything else other than that. But, unfortunately this programme highlighted to me, that it's not just based on merit.
You can be the best in a process or the best performer, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you will get the investment.
How do you think you were managed by Jade in the task?
It wasn't managed. It was pretty much 'let's see what happens.' There were no time restrictions, there was no 'how much should we sell things for?' it was, 'let's just test the water' and that's why I had to constantly push, saying that we need to have a strategy.
They ignored me and we're pretty much just like 'let's see what happens' and I became really frustrated with how the task was managed.
If you were the task manager, what would you have done differently?
Well, you saw me in the taxi and I was on the phone, highlighting which products were selling and which weren't and which markets we should be focusing on and depending on which demographic you're focusing on, the products will change.
We were selling fake tan in a highly-populated Asian area - it was never going to work! It was ridiculous. And, this is the message that we were trying to tell Jade, but unfortunately she reinvested, went back and bought all the same products, even though we all knew that they weren't selling.
There were a number of serious flaws which Jade highlighted in the episode, but of course, it was taken to the boardroom and I was presented as being negative, when I was actually just providing some factual information.
In the boardroom, Lord Sugar said he thought you could be someone who was negative, but had little solutions, what do you think about this?
I think Lord Sugar got me very wrong, I did provide solutions. I told Jade that we should hold more stock at the furthest location - that's a strategy. Which location we go to - that's a strategy.
I clearly pointed out where decisions should be made and what we should be looking out for. But unfortunately, Jade refused to listen to anything that I was saying and she literally went on a rampage, just to see what she could sell and eventually, that led to us failing the task.
Azhar was brought into the boardroom by Jade.
What did you think of your fellow contestants in general?
I found it quite good. It's interesting to see how people react in the process. There were people who stayed the same throughout the whole show and there are people who changed as the show went on. I think people in the process maybe saw me as a bit of a threat, due to my business and skills.
And, after I became project manager and won, the tone changed towards me and the other candidates became a bit more bickery and the tactics in the boardroom changed. So, people do play the game in there very, very well, but obviously they can only go so far in the process.
Do you think you were fairly edited on the show?
It's difficult because of the large number of hours that go into a one-hour slot, I can assure you that I'm not quiet by any stretch of the imagination and I'm not negative by any stretch of the imagination either.
And I'm really successful in what I do. So, maybe that didn't come across as much and a lot of people have told me 'I didn't see you on TV as much as I expected'.
Who's your tip to win?
There are number of strong candidates. Tom's a strong individual, Nick's been saved by Lord Sugar twice. But, anything is possible with Lord Sugar, anything can happen in the boardroom. It just comes down to Lord Sugar and how he feels on a particular day.
What would you have done with Lord Sugar if you had won?
I want to launch a range of energy efficient products, which I've already started in my UK in my current business. The products reduce emissions by 30% and are good to the environment.
I have already got 80% of the investments that I needed, so I will continue with the battle.
As well as your business, what's next for you?
I'm open to any opportunity to be honest with you. There are lots of open doors. I really like helping people too, there's talk of a fitness video, so I don't know, maybe. I wouldn't mind doing some kind of work in TV, but definitely something that is fitness or business related.
Episode seven: recap
This week, Lord Sugar challenged the teams to a 'smell a sale' task, in which they were each got £150 to buy products from a wholesalers and then sell them in markets and shopping centres in the Essex area.
He hinted at Jade, that "Those who haven't been project manager yet, might want to step forward."
Jade was the project manager of Phoenix and Nick was the project manager of Sterling.
On Sterling the candidates quickly decide where to sell and what to sell, selecting a range of household products for the market and beauty products for the shopping centre. Selecting fake tan as one of their products, the team are positive about their ability to sell it, relying on Jenna's expertise and Ricky's belief that, "Essex do love tan!"
Their positivity about the fake tan proves well founded when the tan sells easily at the shopping centre. Observing proceedings, Nick Hewer comments, "the fake tan is shifting very rapidly... soon everybody in Essex will have one."
On Phoenix, Jade steps forward as Project Manager, as the only candidate left in the process who hasn't already taken on the role. Jade is confident about her leadership style, stating, "I'm a born leader," but struggles with making decisions early on when she cannot settle on where in Essex they should sell their products.
She eventually makes a decision, however the team has wasted so long deliberating that they only have ten minutes left to select their stock. Watching over the team, Karren Brady observes, "Jade's in a bit of a mess. At the moment it's a bit of a bun fight with lots of opinions. They've had to rush their product selection because they are running out of time."
After selecting a mixed bag of products, Jade decides to split the stock almost equally, dismissing Azhar's suggestion that they take more products to the location that is further away. With Jade and Adam based at the market, the rest of the team try to sell at the shopping centre, however they struggle to shift the wide variety of products. A frustrated Laura explains, "It's hard to switch from product to product. One minute you're selling a toy, next minute you're selling a speaker, next minute you're selling a beauty product."
In the end, Sterling's assets are worth more than Phoenix's and Jade is forced to decide on how to bring into the boardroom. She quickly picks Azhar, following their disagreement, but she struggled to choose a second person to bring back to the boardroom. She eventually chose Tom, who seemed hurt by her decision.