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The Apprentice: The freak show of the business world?

How The Apprentice is ruining the reputation of the workplace

With The Apprentice back in full swing again, thousands will tune in to see the pretentious and downright silly participate in a suited and booted version of the Hunger Games. But is this unrealistic portrayal of the working world doing anyone any good?

The Apprentice started as a simple idea, abiding by the general theme of TV, turning anything into reality television. But filling our screens with falsified ideas of what a workplace and professional boardroom is like isn’t something we should endorse. Young people growing up with these shows believe that this kind of business level success can be equated to the type of success found on X Factor or any other number of talent shows.

Working in professional industry should be anything but this romanticised, slap stick style journey, in which at the end of the day a middle aged white man determines your future with two words. Sir Alan Sugar offers up this dream task of working for and alongside him for a certain six figure salary, and has used the television show as the world’s longest interviewing process. Presenting task upon task, these successful and intelligent people are forced to work and compete together in high pressure situations, with everything from coming up with a new holiday to selling items which seem to be picked from a producers back garden shed. The tasks place emphasis on what comedic and dramatic value they can provide for the audience. This would be fine if it was not for the marketing of the show revolving around it being a behind the scenes look into how the corporate world operates. Treat the audience with a little bit more respect and don’t patronise them.

The idea that you have to be arrogant and self-invested to experience success in business is morally unhealthy, but is one that the show promotes time and time again. Absurd quotes from the contestants such as “I would trade my own Grandmother for a packet of crisps” is again promoting the idea that being only interested in your own aims and ambitions is what makes you successful in life. However, in the real world, having traits similar to those we would classify as sociopaths is not a positive thing. Nor is bullying acceptable, another scenario we see played out time and time again in the infamous boardroom scenes.

Why are we still watching this show which parades people around (all of whom have genuine business skills in their chosen field), portraying them as mindless bodies who believe that the only way to get ahead in the world is through intimidation and back stabbing? A much more interesting story would involve a deeper look into how the candidates got to where they are today, as many are already successful in brilliant businesses. These interesting and realistic stories of how people strive in this post-recession era would be much more beneficial to an audience interested in business, rather than having this childish game show style of going from ‘rags’ to riches.

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