The Apprentice NZ's Kennedy Anderson: 'I was fired from my own company!'

The Kiwi business prodigy reveals how love has healed the pain of his biggest failure

By Florence Hartigan
At just 23 years old, The Apprentice Aotearoa's Kennedy Anderson has already achieved more than most people do in a lifetime.
The social media expert's wrist is adorned with a tattoo of six tally marks, each one representing a business he owns.
"My friends are always teasing me about what happens when I run out of arm space!" he laughs. "It's a good reminder to myself that I don't need to own any more than what can fit – otherwise I won't have time for anyone!"
It's not surprising this ambitious go-getter has to remind himself to slow down. The Aucklander recalls, "From a very young age, I wanted to be in business when I grew up. On my primary school reports, where they usually write cute things, mine said, 'Kennedy wants to be a CEO.'"
His parents, both successful business owners themselves, recognised their son's potential early on. "There was a lot of, 'If you get this grade on this exam, then you get this reward.' On The Apprentice, I got teased about whether that was parenting or mentoring!
Fellow contestants getting a taste of Kennedy's passion and drive
"My mum and dad used a lot of tricks, like if I was ever not appreciating school enough, they'd leave the term invoice slip for my private school fees on my bed to remind me how lucky I was to be there."
Even though the pressure was sometimes intense, Kennedy credits much of his success to their encouragement.
"I love my family," he smiles. "We're really close. They pushed me and the reason I can do the things I do is because of them."
By the age of 21, Kennedy had already built a social media marketing company that was so successful, he was able to sell 50% of the business to a much larger company for a healthy profit. However, the sale came with a steep learning curve and, a few months later, Kennedy found himself in hot water.
"I was away in Fiji shooting for a client and I got an email from one of the new owners saying, 'This is the third time you've said that you'd do something and you haven't. You're gone.' I was fired from my own company.
Kennedy with partner Ollie
"I was devastated. I cried my eyes out. The next day, I had to do a Zoom call to the entire team and explain to them why I was terminated – that it was my own lack of integrity. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done.
"It was pretty brutal, but looking back, I'm glad it happened. Integrity and doing what I say I'm going to do were suddenly my focus. It genuinely changed my life and I got my company back. I was reinstated, this time as creative director, and it's been nothing but success since then."
However, Kennedy hasn't just been successful in the business world, but in romance too. He met his partner Oliver, who works as a paramedic, five years ago.
"It's the best relationship I've ever been in," he grins.
"I couldn't imagine a more perfect human.
"Ollie fully understands that so much goes into business. He sees the stress I'm under and always tries to do things for me that make it easier. Every day, I come home from the hecticness of work and he's cooked dinner, which he makes sure we eat together. He really helps me slow down and smell the roses."

In turn, Kennedy likes to treat his beau to gifts and impromptu getaways. "I'm a romantic. I like doing stuff that's really spontaneous and fun, like surprising him with trips. He doesn't have such a money-led job, so I love spoiling him because he spoils me a lot."
The Insta-adorable couple live together with their schnauzer-poodle cross Hudson in a chic four-bedroom, three-bathroom house they recently bought in Hobsonville.
"I got to live my creative dream, which is to style and design a house," tells Kennedy. "Everything's beautiful, clean, concrete and black. I have an obsession with black – nothing colour comes into the house!"
While the pair are enjoying their domestic bliss, Kennedy says they're not thinking of tying the knot any time soon. "I love the idea of having a party, being together forever and celebrating our love, but whether that's marriage, I'm not sure."
And though there may be brand-new businesses on the horizon – he aims to launch three more by the end of the year – Kennedy is adamant there are no kids in their future.
"Definitely not. I'm all about the money… Money and dogs!"

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