Lord Sugar, this is not how businesses are run

Firstly, let me say the opportunity to highlight the world of business to a mass audience is a good thing. 

While the media is becoming ever more fractious with people getting their news and information from a growing number of sources, television has been the one constant. 

Even if you’re not watching it in your living room, the content produced by the main TV channels is among the first choice of viewing on other devices such as mobile phones, tablets and computers.

Which makes the return of the business game show, The Apprentice for a ninth series even more infuriating.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great shows on TV about business. The Gerry Robinson documentaries are always compelling and the programme we did, “Show me your money” was quite groundbreaking.

However, getting a bunch of suited-and-booted wannabes to run around the Capital shouting into mobile phones at the behest of a demonstrative Lord does not shine the best of lights on how businesses are run.

Of course there will be arguments that this is just entertainment, but it does leave an impression on people, particularly young people. 

And those in positions of power think that too. Remember, on the back of the success of The Apprentice, Sir Lord Alan of Sugar became an ambassador for the previous government’s apprenticeship schemes. Therefore, the programme’s makers have a responsibility to mix the entertainment more heavily with business values deep-rooted in the world of work and enterprise.

While there’s a good chance that’ll never happen, they should look long and hard at themselves because the programme showcases bullying, spreading the blame and trying to get away with doing as little real work while taking as much credit as possible, which all have no place in the modern workplace.

Isn’t it ironic that, in the days before the start of the ninth series of the business game show, a report was published which suggested there was a “strong undercurrent of fear” at the BBC when addressing issues of bullying during the period 2005 to 2012?

Of course business is tough. Every student or school leaver who makes the transition from education to workplace will tell you that it can be quite a shock to the system. But it’s nothing like the “ultimate job interview” that The Apprentice claims to be.

Surely, before these guys and girls start speeding across London giving it their traditional “110 per cent” to find a 19th century bird cage or something equally ludicrous, it’s time to not only think outside the box, but actually get them off the box altogether.

Charlie Mullins is founder and CEO of Pimlico Plumbers.

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