What do you do when you interview 2014’s Apprentice winner Mark Wright, who has built a profitable SEO company with Lord Sugar? Ask him to write your headline of course. After all, he’s supposed to be expert at getting websites up the search engine ranks or – as he puts it – “making people see things”.
If you’re reading this, it’s been a success. Mark won’t have to try and sell a plastic bucket to London Zoo à la the days of Apprentice tasks and my editor won’t give me a Christmas cracker with a P45 inside. I’ve been warned. Several times. The season does not matter.
For those who enjoy all things SEO (and for those who don’t, SEO stands for search engine optimization), Mark also advised I dropped in something about penguins, pigeons and pandas. No, he isn’t envisaging another day at the zoo; he’s talking about Google algorithm updates, which determine rankings of SEO. And well, we want to be ranked high up so panda, panda, panda, penguin, pigeon, penguin, panda, pigeon. This SEO lark is quite easy if you get it right –which Mark doesn’t always.
When I spoke to him in January, he told me his Climb Online business was at the top of Google. His digital rivals were quick to point out it wasn’t his website (it is now). But the Aussie-born businessman enjoys the challenges this area of business throws at him.
“Some people are very envious of the position I’ve got within the industry and they love to really challenge us. I think it’s healthy for us as it keeps me on my toes and keeps my company on its toes. We’ve had people really after us. It’s probably made the company better.”
His time on the show – along with the help of Lord Sugar – has meant his company has grown quickly. But the attention has offered up its own speed bumps.
“The Apprentice has the disadvantage that it gives you all of your business before you’re ready for it,” Mark says, explaining that his month two profit was what he was expecting from month eight. “You open your doors on day one and you are frighteningly busy, yet you haven’t even put the chairs and desks together.”
The boss of the boardroom has been far more involved than expected, and Mark says Lord Sugar’s greatest skill is his “knack for making the hard things simple”.
“We’re both perfectionists and we both want to succeed. We both want the best for our businesses.”
But his time with Lord Sugar hasn’t given Mark the inside track on the upcoming Apprentice series (unfortunately).
“I want to know more than anyone who’s going to take up Nick’s spot,” Mark teases as I try and get the inside scoop on who might be stepping into the shoes of long-standing aide Nick Hewer.
“I’ve even tried hinting around; ‘Come on Lord Sugar, it’s your good friend Mark.’ But nothing. He’s good with a secret.”
Mark doesn’t think Lord Sugar actually knows yet, and has just suggested some potential names. Mark is pretty sure the production team takes the final decision, difficult as that is to imagine – “I wouldn’t want to be in that meeting!”
Nor is Mark practising his withering looks in the hope of a promotion. “I’m making profit for Lord Sugar; he’s not going to turn the tap off and let me have six months off replacing Nick. It’s not me, sorry.”
Maybe it will be a panda, or a penguin, or a pigeon..?
For more from Mark check out his website: www.climb-online.co.uk