Would you hire Lord Sugar? Not a chance

Age is nothing more than a number, says the 24 year old Apprentice contestant Charles Burns

Interviewing Charles Burns is like listening to a motivational speaker on fast forward. For a 24-year-old he’s got a lot of thinking sorted. You may remember Charles as the bespectacled, shorter, rounder contestant who got to week 8 of the Apprentice at the end of last year.

Quite rightly famous for always having something to say, we managed to get some questions in and found that inside him lurks a one-man mountain of motivation:

What was the best bit about being on the Apprentice?

Taking part, I had always wanted to do it. It gives you that air of confidence in yourself that you can do anything. Just because you are starting at £2 or £3 per hour, if you are passionate about something and you persevere, you can do anything. I started at Tesco stacking shelves, no one focuses on that bit. All they know now is that I earn £100,000 a year and have a quarter of a million in the bank.

You don’t get there by waking up one day and buying a lottery ticket. You need to incentivise yourself daily, whether it’s going to the gym or out for that cheap meal. Find things outside of work that inspire you. I’ll tell you for a fact that I was doing this before I had money. Money does not make you happy, but it provides opportunities.

Eight weeks ago, I had £19 in my bank account, now I have raised £250,000 for my business and have a six-figure salary. All that’s changed is mentality. I used to chase money, now I chase values.

You were one of the youngest contestants on the show – do you think that was a help or a hindrance?  

Neither really, age doesn’t make a difference. Physical age is irrelevant, it’s all about mentality. The minute you start doing the same thing every day it gets boring. A lot of people just settle. Settling isn’t good for people mentally.

Age is not a barrier in the slightest. I see age as nothing more than a number. You have a physical age, namely can you move properly etc, but more importantly it’s a mental age. My grandpa Joel has a mental age of 50, even though he’s 80. People need a purpose in life, work is not about how much money you can make, it’s about what good can you do, and can you do good efficiently. Honestly all that stops people is mental attitude.

What qualities would you look for in an apprentice?

Perseverance, a can-do attitude, a positive optimistic outlook, someone driven, passionate and motivated.  Also, someone who doesn’t fear failure.   English people have a massive problem with this.

In America the more times you fail, the more successful you are. You get yourself up from the floor.  In the UK if you fail with a business you then go and work for someone else.   Failure means you are trying.   If you don’t fail, you are settling. If you are trying something new and doing it well, then try harder, then try longer.

If you could be an apprentice to anyone in the world who would you pick and why?  

Can I pick 3 people? Ok, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. The reason for picking these three is the same reason – because they can go into any industry and make massive change for the benefit of the world. That is the most purposeful thing you can do.

What are you up to now that the Apprentice is over?

I’ve just secured funding for my watch marketplace which will be launching later this year.  I’ve done well in my watch trading as Charles Burns Consultancy, but I have realised there’s a massive issue in the watch industry: a lack of information, asymmetrical information, and pricing all over the show.  A Rolex can retail for £9000 but online it’s for sale at anything from £13,000 to £17,000.

WatchMarketPlace.co.uk will be the auto-trader of the watch world.  It will be an open honest trading platform with algorithms to show you the price you should be paying. It will have a monthly subscription fee where you can cancel any time.  Hopefully we will be launching later this year and by the end of 2019 we will be the go-to-place to buy and sell watches in the UK.

What advice would you have for someone looking for a job or an apprentice position?

Be the best version of yourself rather than the second-best version of someone else.   Richard Branson did not read a book on being Richard Branson, he just did it. The secret is just try, try, try every day.

You make the best out of your circumstances.  You realise that your friends and family matter, but sometimes they don’t know what’s good for you, as they change, and you change.

You go to the gym to break your muscles and build them back up but continually for the right reason.  I failed more than most people, that’s the reason I sound wise.  I would be a fool not to pass forward the knowledge I have gained through failing and getting up again.

Would you hire Lord Sugar?

Not a chance. Because you know what’s funny, he says I am disruptive, but it takes one to know one. He is looking for someone he can work with which means that the winner is the most capable person to work with him, not anything more than that.

We could never work together as we are too similar. I will send him a watch with pleasure because he loves watches. I wish James White, Sarah Lynn and Lord Sugar all the best. Tell them ‘I’ll race you to the first million pounds’.

Article by Natasha Oppenheim

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