The Apprentice

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Steven McC

Oct 12, 2014
The new series of The Apprentice has started in the UK and I'm interested to know what others make of this show.

I usually dislike 'reality' TV as a genre and I certainly dislike corporate speak and people who believe the primary goal in life is to stamp on everyone else's head while climbing to the top of the ladder/making money for the sake of making money. I also dislike Alan Sugar (though I do like him more than Donald Trump...)

Why on Earth, then, do I watch this show!?!

I've thought about it a lot over the years and I think it's because The Apprentice is more or less a comedy show, almost a good old-fashioned farce. The producers seem to edit it this way, showcasing the more ludicrous statements of candidates at the start ('I'm a cross between Gandhi and the Wolf of Wall Street', 'My worst nightmare is getting to age forty earning only fifty K a year and driving a Mazda') and juxtaposing this hubris with total uselessness in the tasks (designing a jacket with a chest-level camera/external solar panels)

Later in the series a more human element appears. As the candidates go through the process of messing up tasks and being taken to pieces for their errors by Sugar (who is good as this) and are reduced to a smaller group who have been together for a while, you start to see them revising their early inflated self-opinions and bonding more with their housemates (rather than talking about how they're going to crush all competition, etc). To me, they become humanized and I start to root for them rather than hate them. Again, this could be the editing though.

The one thing I'm convinced of is that the show has nothing to do with business!

What does everyone else think?
I haven't watched the UK version, but I was hooked on the US version with The Donald for a while. It had some true comedic moments, that's for sure, but you're right. I never took it as a serious business-minded show. True reality show material, all the way. :)
My wife and I, who both have significant business backgrounds, think the show is hilarious. Virtually none of the candidates would last a week in a proper, professional business environment. But it's not about that, and it's not about Sugar finding an apprentice. It's about bums on seats. It's entertainment. That's all. The candidates are picked accordingly; for being bizarre, for being unwittingly amusing, for their potential for epic personality clashes with the other oddballs, but not for their business sense. This has become increasingly the case as the series has evolved.

I found the first one or two series quite addictive, perhaps because there were always one or two candidates who you felt actually did deserve to win (whereas now they all seem to be set up to lose, the winner being the one who loses last) but I have lost interest now - same old same old.
Like all other “reality” television, it’s a freak show. And – hint – why would any “reality” show need writers?

I don’t view these things as harmless entertainment. I suspect they may be having a pernicious effect on our society...
Pernicious, I think so. The phone went one day, someone wanted me to go on'Come Dine With Me.' Now, I watch that sometimes, and sometimes I enjoy it, depending who the people are. I always wonder what would I serve up. But have my home, my den, subject to that? NO WAY. People who eat at my table are people I know and like. They'd have sent me a Christian fundamentalist or something, and I believe in courtesy to guests at all times.

They, the apprentices, are just too rushed and mob-handed and without IT tools for research, there's no way they demonstrate real business skills, and in those teams, if one was red-hot, still, the team would sabotage it, probably unintentionally. It would be funny if one day the apprentices all walked off from the boardroom like a bunch of meerkats, but contracts and editing preclude that, no doubt. I watch it because I like to think about how to do the task. The jacket was promising. I'd have had a tailored jacket, able to be sold on its fashion merits, single breated and waisted but with a feature novelty button....maybe one of those mood buttons that change colour.

I don't like any of the candidates yet, but I'm the same. I start to warm to one or two once they stop running round like gaggles of honking geese and I can see them. Some I only like the worse for it, but I don't like Alan Sugar's rudeness to them. I would not say Good morning, Lord Sugar. If he said good morning, and he cannot address them all by name, fine, a cat may look at a king, I'd just say good morning.

And he thinks penguins live in the Arctic.
I'm so reassured that I'm not alone in my perception of The Apprentice!!!

It does interest me, though, the (admittedly thin) veneer of respectability the BBC try to give the show by banging on about business and having businessmen and women pop up on The Apprentice You're Fired! (usually to be excrutiatingly boring). This differentiates the show from others like Come Dine With Me and Big Brother.

We live in a business-run society where we're all, at some deep level, supposed to ascribe to the 'values' of capitalism and I wonder if The Apprentice in some way echoes the general public's awkward relationship to capitalism. Surely we should admire such a magical, wealth-creating system - and in some ways the reverence towards 'Lord Sugar' encourages this - yet the show itself hilariously undercuts this by showing the disharmony, greed, egotism, useless products, childish behaviour and total embarrassment that results when raw capitalist competition is unleashed in youthful high-fliers.

I'm grasping here, trying to find some kind of theory to tie my thoughts together, probably not succeeding...
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