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Playing the blame game: The Apprentice’s focus on entertainment could have consequences

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I am a fan of the Apprentice. It’s addictive to watch as they all, at one time or another, end up making fools of themselves. There’s also the element of who would get fired next. It’s all fairly innocent and I think the critiques do well to bear in mind it is a reality TV show when all is said and done, not a documentary.

But given that the show has proven to be such an influence on society, the producers need to realise that the concept itself creates issues. By turning the competition into a game, and making the result of mistakes be extreme dismissal, what is created is the ultimate blame culture. Cringe-worthy scenes are created, showing contestants b**ch at each other, sabotage each other, and then tear each other to shreds in the boardroom.

It’s been said that the process teaches them to work as teams. But the concept could that ensure a blame culture is implemented, whereby employees fear making mistakes. Staff who over-protect less experienced staff from progressing with all good intention unwittingly create the same problem as they too become convinced that if ever they were to attempt these things, they would fail and some unknown disaster would befall them.

None of us like to fail but the more inadequate the individual, the less able they are to put up their hands and say “I messed up” – and the more devious and sometimes absurd they get in trying to lay the blame elsewhere.

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Then you have gossip and b**chiness – human nature being what it is, put a group of people together and you will almost always get a degree of gossip. Put together young, over-ego’d, and hugely ambitious people, often resentful of some slight on their given responsibilities, or someone else letting the team down, and you have a multitude hives of it.

Fun viewing perhaps, but again, a key creation of blame culture. At the other end of the scale, idle people are just as dangerous in spreading negativity throughout an organisation.

Other causes include bad management. When viewing a bad team leader in full swing, one can literally see the other members gradually perform less as they become less and less motivated.

As such, we need to avoid the traps of The Apprentice. We need to squash the blame culture, make it safe for people to make mistakes, stamp out gossip, make the metrics of measurement crystal clear and set an example by admitting our own mistakes. Not too often have such words passed Lord Sugar’s lips.

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