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Embarassing Clichés: “Touching Base” after The Apprentice Final

July 20, 2011

This year’s series of The Apprentice was compulsive viewing again, but now the series is over, one thing I will definitely not be missing are all the embarrassing cliché’s that kept spilling out of the mouths of the weaker contestants every week!    

The King of Blarney, Sales and Marketing Manager Jim Eastwood was rightfully blasted as a ­cliché-spouting chancer once and for all in the final episode, which I found very satisfying to watch. The Northern Irish charmer – famous for trotting out naff clichés, was put on the spot by Lord Sugar’s former adviser Margaret Mountford during an interview when she asked him to describe himself without using clichés. Hapless Jim totally fluffs his lines when he replies: “I’m exactly what it says on the tin”... leaving Margaret with her head in her hands, lost for words, together with the viewing population!
It’s really strange how in business, many networkers seem to think these pompous adjectives and metaphors are what it takes to impress others when, in truth, the exact opposite is probably true. Interestingly, LinkedIn have "drilled down" to  review the use of clichés and buzzwords as used by people on their site, taking into account all the "results-oriented team players with a proven track record" and the "fast-paced problem solvers with extensive experience" and come up with their own top 10 over-used words from their 85 million profiles worldwide. The most over-used word in the UK? Interestingly, it’s "motivated".

So back to The King of Blarney, who also came under fire from four of Lord Alan’s tough-talking advisers. In his first interview, magazine mogul Mike Soutar immediately pulled him up on his love of business jargon when he says: “I’ve read your application and it’s full of clichés, buzzwords and blarney. Jim, do you have difficulty expressing yourself succinctly?” which really got to the "granular" detail of "the bottom line"( sorry!) Then it is acid-tongued Margaret’s turn as she accuses him of ­“swallowing a book of clichés”. After reading his CV she asks him: “What impression does that give me of you? That you’re a bit of an ass?” Finally she asks: “What would you like to tell me about ­yourself... and try to say it without using clichés?” And he falls straight in to her trap.

Jim has ­previously been ­accused of being a bulls*****r by Lord Sugar and described as a Jedi because of his powers of persuasion in the boardroom. At the start the cocky businessman declared “I’m not a show pony or a one-trick pony, I’m not a jackass or a stubborn mule, and I’m definitely not a wild stallion that needs to be tamed. I am the champion thoroughbred that this process requires.” Jaw dropping stuff. Then when he leaves the interview room to join the three other ­finalists, he mutters: “That was a walk in the park… with people shooting at you and throwing hand grenades as you walk through it.” Unbelievable to the very end!

Do people really think that they need to cram in as many business cliché terms and buzzwords as possible to make them sound great?  Earlier in the series, we all cringed together when Melody Hossaini said: "Don't tell me the sky is the limit when there's  footsteps on the moon”. Just where do these people get them from and who do they really think that they’re impressing? It's amazing that they don't realise how transparent they are and that continual cliché -dropping actually has the opposite effect of leaving people totally unimpressed.
Those of you who viewed The Apprentice last year will be familiar with other cringe-worthy descriptions that the candidates gave of themselves in interview. Stuart Baggs The Brand (‘you’re NOT a brand’ said outraged Alan Sugar advisor Claude Littner as he referred to himself as a ‘big fish in a small pond’. ‘You’re not even a fish’ said Littner.Then there was Jamie Lester who used the metaphor of being a ‘key cog in the wheel’ to a scary-eyed Margaret Mountford. Once challenged by Mountford who said it didn’t make sense and challenged ‘what wheel?’ he wasn’t sure how to go on.

I may be "opening a can of worms" here, but feel free to reply with any of the business clichés  that really annoy you. "Let's run it up the flag pole and see who salutes it.”!  


Posted by Rebecca McCormick
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