Is The Apprentice bad for business?

Simon Pittman gives a personal view on how an entertainment show might not be good for the business community as a whole

The Apprentice – every Wednesday at 9pm on BBC1 – is certainly an entertaining show – however I believe it can give the wrong impression about starting and running a business.

Before I begin, I’m aware that it’s an entertainment show – and a lot of things are heavily edited (often to make candidates appear worse, make everything fit within the hour timeslot or to make things more entertaining).

However a lot of people watch and gain the impression that is how a business is actually run, or that is the right way to behave. Even more worrying, I think some of the candidates that will be on the show in the next few years will be people who grew up watching The Apprentice (the UK version of which started in 2005), so will be even worse!

So why do I think The Apprentice sets a bad example?

  • There is a lot (and too much) backstabbing and people being out for themselves. I’m aware that it’s a gameshow and everyone wants to win, however the backstabbing is often too much.

  • It should not always be about who makes the most profit – sometimes you see a team who does a terrible job still win, because they made the most money on a task.

  • On a similar note – they don’t seem to care if they do a poor job.

  • Building a business takes a LOT of work and effort – and not the few days that is shown on camera. Bakers can spend years learning their craft and manufacturers have lots of regulations and training.

  • Worth remembering that a successful business does not happen within a day, week or even a month – even companies like Microsoft , Facebook and Apple took years before they became the companies they are today.

  • Too many buzzwords and fancy phrases – and not enough substance to back them up!

  • Some candidates often seem to act up in front of the camera, try to show off or exaggerate.

  • Behaviour of candidates can set a bad example – especially to younger viewers.

And as a side note – I wonder who fixes any damage caused by candidates during a task? Last year I remember one team doing some paint work – not only did they not complete the job, it looked worse then it originally appeared! Is the poor customer left to put things right?

Am I saying that everyone should stop watching The Apprentice? Or that it should be cancelled? No – however its worth remembering that it is just an entertainment show, and does not really reflect the real world.

And don’t get me started on the US version of The Apprentice!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I no longer watch the Apprentice because of the reasons you have highlighted in the blog… I also warn my son, who is trying to start his own business, to not take this as everyday practice in business.
    I am sure Sir Alan did not behave in this manner and he should not let his candidates either!
    Great blog – thank you.
    PS – Views are my own and not that of the company I work for – just in case Sir Alan pops by 🙂

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