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Why I think The Apprentice should include entrepreneurs of all ages

Article by Ceri Wheeldon

I have watched every season of The Apprentice since its early days before it became essential prime time viewing.

As a headhunter I was intrigued by the tasks set and the long selection process of individuals who were essentially at the start of their careers. The current format where Lord Sugar is now in essence looking for a business partner and not an employee essentially changes the dynamics, and in theory the qualities looked for.

Having seen the first 3 episodes of the current series and the lack of business acumen exhibited by some of this year’s applicants, I can’t help wondering if the age restrictions should be put aside to allow would be entrepreneurs of all ages to compete for the chance to be Lord Sugar’s business partner.  With 71% of women over 50 surveyed in a recent poll indicating that they were considering setting up in business, and research by organisations such as PRIME showing that businesses set up by the over 50s demonstrated a higher ratio of success than businesses set up by younger generations, I can only wonder why Lord Sugar would not wish to tap into this tremendous source of potential business partners.

No place for ageism if we want to grow the economy

Can we afford to let ageism play a part in the building of successful businesses and boosting the economy?  Surely we should be drawing upon all available talent irrespective of age.

As longevity increases so do our working lives. Someone setting up a business over the age of 50 has ample opportunity to build a thriving concern. They can offer maturity, wisdom and experience gained from decades in the workplace.

Surely more mature candidates equally  deserve a place in Lord Sugar’s boardroom evaluations.

It would make interesting viewing, and throughout the numerous tasks and challenges the candidates from different generations could learn from each other.

If anyone needs convincing of the merits of mature entrepreneurs just take a look at some of the businesswomen featured in our ‘Fabwomen’ section, such as Nina who turned her love of animals into a thriving pet sitting business, or Marianne whose skincare concoctions initially created at her kitchen table are now being distributed internationally.

So please Lord Sugar, for the next series of The Apprentice, please open the age group to include entrepreneurs of all ages!

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Paul Hensby

    April 5, 2012

    The last time I looked I was a man, so possibly in a minority. But I’m in full agreement with the thesis that experience and maturity are very valuable, and are undervalued by the media in particular.
    We over 50s have many old fashioned virtues such as punctuality, clear written and verbal communications ability (not least of which is good grammar and correct spelling), ‘soft’ interpersonal skills and knowledge of what is good and not so good – judgement that comes with experience.
    I hope this view is shared by males and females, and it’s time we convinced the media, the establishment and decision makers to give us the respect we deserve.

  2. Gill Buchanan

    April 11, 2012

    Maturity would win for me everytime. I watch the Apprentice candidates in wonderment! In fact I saw the last Junior Apprentice and I thought they were at least as good as the young adults if not better. At least they had an excuse!
    Why wouldn’t someone who is older be better when they have more experience of life, bags more commonsense (it would seem) and are much more reliable. I recall that some winners of the apprentice have quit in their first year – after all that!!

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      April 11, 2012

      I’m sure Lord Sugar agrees with us unfortunately Gill! We’ll have to lobby before the next series!

  3. Age Scotland

    May 24, 2012

    Great article. The Apprentice would benefit greatly from widening its circle of applicants and getting those with years under their belt to show the nation the value of experience.

    This post touches on a common issue – the media often only highlights a younger demographic and older, more experienced individuals are shunned or ignored. There needs to be greater appreciation of age and its benefits. The sooner the media embraces this, the better!

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