That’s entertainment? – The Apprentice, Real Business and Real Leadership

Although it may seem churlish to say this, I must admit that I despair at the BBC TV series ‘The Apprentice’.  This is not because of its entertainment value, but because it seems that many people believe that the programme is both educational and a reality show, in that it offers us a window into real business practice.  In particular it sends out a message to young people that, to succeed in business, you need to swear a lot, be untrustworthy, wear a designer suit and fake deference to authority by mouthing the words ‘Lord Sugar’ at every possible opportunity etc.   It is not a world of business which I recognise through over 30 years of experience on a worldwide basis.  In particular the often quoted qualities of entrepreneurs, such as spirit, desire and drive are artificially exaggerated by the TV setting and the use of extrovert personalities in the main.  Not all entrepreneurs choose such corrosive tactics to sell their ideas and on this occasion, the winner was perhaps the person who did not demonstrate narcissism etc.  But why all the macho aggression from the men and women on the show generally? Are we supposed to be impressed?  Check out the number of times that Alan Sugar swears in this mashup by the infamous Cassette Boy:

Of course, we must not forget that The Apprentice is just entertainment, but it provides a message that leaders need to be arrogant, self obsessed, rude, negative and emotionally bankrupt to succeed in business.  It’s a pity that the BBC don’t choose to put reality on reality TV.  I guess it would not be half as enjoyable to see people trying to collaborate, listening intently, giving people a chance to explain themselves and so on.  As a replacement for wrestling on Saturday afternoons, The Apprentice is a good slapstick verbal equivalent, but frankly, and to quote Shania Twain ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’.

I hope my kids don’t grow up thinking that this is the best that UK Business has to offer the world.  I’m going to kick my Amstrad now!

You're fired !

p.s. in a footnote, I must express my surprise that, on this occasion, Tom, the least pushy person appears to have won.  There is hope!

What are your views about the Apprentice and the leadership qualities demonstrated by Lord Sugar?  Post your thoughts on this blog.