· 1 min read · Features

Paula Watch: Experts agree Paula Jones needs to lead a task on The Apprentice to prove her worth

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On Wednesday night on The Apprentice, Paula Jones retreated from the limelight and cowered away from the action. But why did this happen? Was Paula's dynamic contribution edited out or is she the voiceless 'puppet' the BBC has portrayed her? We put the question to some industry experts.

Professor Sharon Mavin is associate dean (research and consultancy) at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University. She has carried out extensive research into the role of women in the workplace.

She said: "My observations from Wednesday's episode (8 April) are that Paula was again in the background and very quiet. In fact I only heard one line from Paula at the beginning of the task - but this was revealing nonetheless.

"When the group asked Debra if she was strong enough to manage the strong personalities, Paula said to Debra the project leader: ‘It's your own personality you have to manage, as that's quite big.'

"During the discussion relating to how many ethnic minority members of the group should be represented in their product poster versus who was more attractive, Paula was silent, while Debra raged on about its inappropriateness. We don't know what conversations involving Paula have been edited out.

"In this episode, Paula could be seen as a cool cookie, keeping her powder dry or someone who took a back seat. But the editing is beginning to show more of Paula's non-verbal reactions; she looked bemused at the first pitch made to sell the gym equipment and more worried during the second. I hope that we get to see more of Paula. In the boardroom and final scenes on Wednesday, she did seem to be viewed as a team player by the rest of Ignite."

Mark Slattery, development director at HR Insight, thinks it is time Paula plucked up the courage to lead a task to prove her worth. He said: "Good leaders build good teams. To build good teams you need to be able to assess ability and competency and then deploy people into the right roles.
 
"HR professionals are generally good at assessing people in this way, particularly if they have been involved in a lot of recruitment, training or coaching as part of their careers. Paula's challenge will be to apply these skills and not only play to others' strengths and weaknesses, but to use them to her advantage in the various tasks that the teams are set.
 
"An even bigger challenge will be to see if Paula can combine this with the broader commercial understanding needed to turn a good HR professional into a great business professional."