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Young Entrepreneurs

The Manchester Apprentice

How one Manchester student society, inspired by The Apprentice created its own version of the hit BBC TV show to promote entrepreneurship among students and raise the profile of student-run businesses

The Apprentice may often be dismissed as a dolled-up reality show, unreflective of the true hardships of business, but for the University of Manchester Entrepreneurs (ME), the style of the platform does provide an opportunity for candidates to display their talent and competitive edge as budding entrepreneurs.

Cue the launch of their own version of the popular BBC show, The Manchester Apprentice, complete with one-liners, colourful characters and a boardroom.

After advertising for contestants, twenty were selected to take part and were given a range of tasks from marketing and strategic planning to pitching, selling and negotiating, aimed at helping them arm themselves with the tools needed to succeed in business.

From singing and dancing on the busiest road in Manchester to grab attention to washing staff members’ cars in front of the biggest student complex at the university, the results were innovative but it was Management student Chris Johnston, who managed to avoid hearing ‘You’re Fired’, to scoop the top prize of £500.

He said: “The apprentice was a fantastic chance to gain some real-life business experience. It gave me an opportunity to put my entrepreneurial skills to the test and has inspired me to want to run my own business when I leave university.”

The society partnered up with the Manchester Enterprise Centre, Manchester Metropolitan Business School and Accenture and RBS to alongside ME’s very own alumni-business, PieBoy Clothing and Give Me Tap.

To further boost Manchester student business profiles, the competition featured challenges drawn and based upon these names. The National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) was also present to ensure the smooth running of the event while Fuse TV and the RBS ESSA helped promote the to other student enterprise enthusiasts across the UK.

Stan Reinholds, the president of Manchester Entrepreneurs for 2011-2012, said: "University culture in the UK needs more student enterprise and the way to reach it is one activity at a time. Manchester Apprentice is the foundation of enterprise that we want to install within our university students, from their unique way of thinking, to celebrating personal attributes like character, purpose and self-discipline, giving us an identity of what we as individuals, can positively bring to society.

"With youth unemployment on the rise and a short supply of adequate, fulfilling jobs for the ever-expanding graduate market, entrepreneurship may well be a solution, and this is precisely the message the Manchester Entrepreneurs have been fighting hard to deliver."

View the final video here: http://youtu.be/VVRIaPA0JJo

Fahim Sachedina is President of University of Manchester’s Manchester Entrepreneurs