Management / The Apprentice winner Ricky Martin on life with Lord Sugar and hiring apprentices of his own

The Apprentice winner Ricky Martin on life with Lord Sugar and hiring apprentices of his own

Since Ricky Martin won The Apprentice in June 2012 and he received a £250,000 investment from Lord Alan Sugar, his business Hyper Recruitment Solutions has grown from just an idea to a company on track to make £10 million revenue in the next 12 months.

Talking to Martin he tells me being on The Apprentice is an apprenticeship in itself, people go on the show and are learning and making mistakes. It is a real investment by a real investor Lord Alan Sugar and at the end of it a real business idea is developed.

Since winning the show Martin says he has “gone from a position where it is just me and an idea and a plan to me plus 25 people, a profitable growing organisation which is growing on the brink of multi expansion.”

In the next 12 months, Martin and Lord Sugar are aiming to achieve a £10 million revenue milestone and are looking to set up two new offices in the next 6 months, where one will be in London.

From his experience on The Apprentice he says: “Lord Sugar has taught me quite a few things. The Apprentice was very grounding. I thought I was great at this, great at that, but the reality I was in a process where I did not know any of these businesses. I was out of my comfort zone.

“What it did teach me is there are a million reasons why anyone who wants to set up a company in the real life won’t do things. I can’t afford it. I can’t do this. The weather is bad. This is bad. It is dark outside. All these different reasons why people can’t do things, what it taught me is if you want to do things you got to make it happen and everything else is just an excuse around it.”

One of the most important things Martin is learning from Lord Sugar’s in being his apprentice is how to assess risk in business.

“I never have known anyone like him,” he says. “I’m like oh okay, I’m thinking about this and within a millisecond he is like this is your risk. He is incredibly good at pointing out those risks. This is your risk, these are you options and what do you think?”

For example, Martin has been looking at expanding the organisation in multiple different areas. At the start of 2016, Martin had ideas to potentially set up an operation in Singapore.

“We had a network,” he says. “We had people that wanted to work for us. We had customers. We had a readymade business set to go. He said you do realise Ricky your business is 3-4 years old. It would be great to have a Singaporean operation.

“It is a great possibility. It sounds like it can work. It is a significant financial investment, putting all that to one side, your business in the UK is only 3-4 years old. You risk yourself spending half the time going to South East Asia and back, you risk losing your team in the UK.”

Martin has now been hiring apprenticeships to help HRS grow and about 18 months ago he decided to bring in an apprentice structure to give people an opportunity that did not a degree. He now has 2 apprentices on board.

He says he “bought the scheme in place to develop more layers in the business to try and develop more loyalty in people’s future. For me it was an opportunity to develop and grow the business organically rather than bring in lots of exterior hires. I can hopefully build people’s loyalty to the company because I am training people the way I like it to be done.

“It is my job to create the roles that they want to step into and find exciting as they develop. It is my job to make sure the culture is right. It puts a lot of ownership back on me to get it right for the business, but it is a very logical way of hiring and hopefully it creates more layers in the business to give us the structure to grow.”

Hiring an apprentice is about giving them a learning opportunity. Martin found his time on The Apprentice also to be a learning experience.

“For anyone to learn things you have to invest time into them,” he says. “It is actually an investment for the future. You are giving them a career opportunity that a lot of people deserve. I hire every apprentice hoping that one day they will become a manager or a director in my company.

“I am not hiring them to just take a year off and come and do work experience. I am hiring them because I want them to pass their first year and step up to the second year and at the end of the second year I want to be able to give them a full time work employed opportunity.

“It is not work experience. It is career. If you do not want a career that your field of apprenticeship is in do not do it. Too many people are going into apprenticeships because it is something to do. The reality is they would not last in my business if that is there attitude and I will not develop them and it is not going to work as a scheme.

“It is hard work for them. It is also work for the employers getting them up to speed, but it should be a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Martin talks at events about apprenticeships to help encourage people to go in this career path. He has a lot of advice for people just starting out in a career and not being able to find the initial job they want.

“The reality is you have to kiss a number of frogs before you find the right prince,” he says. “If you apply and don’t get the role you are looking for, the first thing to do is to get the mind set right do not panic, do not worry, there will be more opportunities around the corner.

“The rejection from this opportunity might be a redirection to something better, firstly people need to realise that not getting what you want is not always a bad thing.  I have not always gotten what I wanted in my life and I like to think I have carved a nice career to myself.”

Martin wants to continue to hire more apprentices in his team and has numerous plans for the company over the coming year.

He says: “In the new year we set up a brand new IT division so we could provide and IT service to the science business where it is currently it is mainly science engineer and in certain areas tech. But we are setting up a brand new IT division in January to support more businesses.”

The Apprentice was Martin’s big break and with Series 12 final fast approaching soon Lord Sugar will have a new apprentice to teach his tricks of the trade.