18 April 2009

So we are in the throes of another series of “The Apprentice” and I am still undecided – is it a good thing for encouraging enterprise or not? Without doubt it is compellingly entertaining and “good television” but is it giving prospective entrepreneurs the wrong impression of what it takes to start up in business?

In favour:

– There are good lessons to be learned from the exercises and “one liners” from Alan Sugar
– It highlights personal characteristics and the importance of teamwork
– It forms an excellent training aid on how NOT to do things!
– It raises the profile of business


– The participants are selected to represent the most divisive in society to engineer conflict
– Without exception the candidates are self deluded as to their skills and abilities
– Sir Alan is not looking for an “Apprentice” but a competent manager
– The programme is unclear as to its purpose – is it seeking a leader, apprentice, manager or entrepreneur?

I believe that the viewing public are generally astute and can see from an early stage those who are out for a “media career”; Z list wanabees; nasty personalities and hopeless inadequates. Once these are eliminated there are few if any credible candidates left to assume the mantle of a true business person.

The tasks are appropriate to determine any potential leadership qualities but as each candidate is solely out to destroy their competitors the result is usually determined by who can wriggle their way out of any blame the best. Perhaps if Sir Alan was to fire people who portrayed an obvious aversion to teamwork, truth, hard work and intelligence we would see someone win who was worthy of the title.

Think back – how many of the candidates would you want to employ or work for? None probably!

So The Apprentice is probably best watched for purely entertainment purposes and as an example of how NOT to behave in business. Then it may play a useful role.

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