The Apprentice is sort of becoming a caricature of itself. What was once an intriguing, kind of exciting programme has stayed stuck in a weird time-warp where these aspiring apprentices have the oddest perspective on what being a business person is all about.
Here are some of the inevitable Opening Night quotes– is this really the best of what’s out there?
“I want the cars, I want the girls but most of all I want the power.”
“I’m disgustingly ambitious.”
“I want to be a billionaire; I want to be richer than Lord Sugar.”
Yup, television at its best I guess. Clearly the show must get good ratings for it to continue year after year. To me the formula seems stale, unexciting and a poor representation of what a lot of the business world really is.
Obviously, there are still businesses out there that operate with that ‘old school’ approach of intimidation, character destruction and making people feel small. The idea being that we’ll put you through a crucible of fire (fish fingers??) and if you survive you’ll be a better man/woman for it and you’ll surely succeed.
And people do.
Yah, yah, it’s all about television, but really, would it hurt to show other aspects of leadership, team working, feedback that aren’t about putting people down, lack of nurturing, lack of compassion?
For me I suppose I shall have to park the realist in me that would love to see a programme devoted to emotionally intelligent leadership, compassionate role modelling and a different kind of template to show younger people an alternative aspiration.
Of course businesses have to make a profit to survive. But as I question the premise every year, should profit be the only criteria for winning?
Often the winning team on a given week, to me should actually be the losing team because even weighed against the profits made, the way they were made is distasteful, unprofessional , even cruel.
That wasn't true last night, as Versatile, the team that made the most profit did indeed do a better job.
Yet, Dan, the person 'fired' had other qualities that I would prefer to work with than April, the Project Manager for Conexus.
Of course I've made hiring mistakes and will probably continue to do so; that's part of the joys and despairs of running a business - we don't always get it right. But I just feel that other useful qualities are overlooked.
But I'm not the show's producers and if you have a winning formula, you stick with it.
I guess I'm looking for more humanity and fairness and I guess that I'd be laughed out of the Boardroom if I said that there was a kinder way to do business and a kinder way to lead other people than the examples displayed on The Apprentice.
So I will continue watching and commenting and perhaps the smart thing would be to view it not as a true representation of how people should progress in the business world, but as purely a soap opera-like entertainment with a complete suspension of disbelief.
After all, look across the pond at who's running for President, so clearly, the joke's on us!
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By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory