Our meeja have gone Apprentice-mad. Even Wayne Rooney’s wedding has been blown off the front pages.
The finalists were interviewed to death on the BBC last night and then again this morning. All the papers have extensive commentary about the show.
Many of those writing about The Apprentice infer from the show that it is representative of the business world in general. Stephen Glover worries:
[I]f The Apprentice does, in any way, hold up a mirror to the world of business in Britain today - to those who are rich and those who want to become rich - then the reflection it shows is pretty depressing.
Let’s pray that the whole thing is an entertaining fantasy that has no more to do with business than the Vicar Of Dibley has to do with religion or ‘Allo ‘Allo has to do with World War II.
Well, Stephen, that’s pretty much it. As Alan Sugar says, he is unique and, therefore, so is his organisation. The Apprentice is, at best, a long drawn out assessment centre for an idiosyncratic organisation with an egotistical boss. At worst, it is a contrived drama, designed to entertain us all with a bit of conflict and confrontation. The truth is probably somewhere in between.
What might work for Alan Sugar’s organisation won’t necessarily work anywhere else. The sort of behaviour on display in his boardroom on the show is likely to get you fired from many organisations. Increasingly, companies are getting wise to the destructive impact of toxic talent.
That said, though, it has certainly gripped the nation. Perhaps it is because there are no British teams in the European Championship but last night’s Apprentice was watched by more than 9 million people. And those of us who work in organisation development, HR or any of the related disciplines, seem to be more fascinated by the programme than most.
Last week I was talking to a friend who had been giving a presentation on staff development. His audience weren’t getting it until he said, “Did anyone see The Apprentice last night?” Suddenly, they all tuned in and he was able to use an anecdote from the show to illustrate his point.
Has anyone else used examples from The Apprentice to make similar points? I know I have. At least once during each series.
I wonder, though, if we are endowing The Apprentice with a greater importance than it deserves. It is, after all, only a TV show. It contains few lessons in behaviour that really transfer to the outside world.
And as for those consultancies that are trying to market their products on the back of The Apprentice, they should be even more ashamed of themselves than the show’s failed candidates are.