Monday, 4 May 2009

The Apprentice is crap

Reviews of business books tend to be anodyne (I say this without yet having seen a review of my latest book) but I read a great exception to this rule in the latest issue of Management Today. Peter York’s review of Linda Gratton’s Glow is as funny as it is savage.

One of only two pieces of praise York had was for Gratton’s focus on co-operation:

“Businesses actually work better if people share and co-operate and merge their heuristics – a hugely 2009 perspective set against the individualist warfare-for-dummies language of The Apprentice – which is so instantly, hideously dated by events”.

Granted, this is a more articulate one-line critique of The Apprentice than my headline, but it’s surprising how many Google hits you get for “The Apprentice” and “crap”.

Nearly two decades ago, I was involved in sponsorship of The Business Game, an early attempt to make business sexy for television. It, and many other attempts, failed, so The Apprentice has at least succeeded in capturing the public’s imagination. But surely to the detriment of the general view of business, if all it is about is seeing who’s best at selling shoddy goods and toadying to Srallun?

The British Chambers of Commerce have even condemned the programme’s portrayal of selling as a profession, and believe it could harm recruitment to the sales profession. And everyone joins in the chorus of how it is guilty of “dumbing down”. Come to think of it, Dragon’s Den is a much better business programme.

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