in General

The UK Apprentice, class warfare, editing and hidden messages.

Sir Alan

For the past 2 weeks, like many other viewers, I’ve been watching the new series of the UK apprentice with Sir Alan Sugar, and up to now its been okay – but there are several themes that are running throughout this series which I find slightly disturbing.

Up to now, this series has been pitched as “cool kids vs. toff kids”, with a majority of the entrants being University graduates with 1st class degrees, or master degree owners, or they’ve ran a business; or are running a business.

That’s fine. But the hidden message of a “class warfare” only narrowly disguises what I see as a thinly-vielled attempt to make you, the viewer, hate certain people because of their background or accent.

Of course, it’s just a TV show – and any viewer of Charlie Brooker’s BBC4 programme Screenwipe will know that Editors purposefully recruit people with huge egos to clash with each other, and then edit the footage to present a hidden agenda or message to draw the public to watch the next episode. The manipulation and character assassination of an person or individual is 40% the person, and 60% editing. (Yes, I made those figures up).

So, the result is cultural, class and other forms of in-fighting, bullying and clashes of ego; and of course you, as a viewer, get a sense of superiority over them; regardless of whether its warranted or not.

Even so, the “class warfare thing” hides the real issue. As I see it, the majority of the people who’ve gone onto Apprentice have 1st class degrees in this, that or whatever, or have ran a business or are running a business or whatever. But why does it have to be restricted to such a narrow set view?

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who don’t have degrees, and aren’t getting fired because they didn’t price fish properly or didn’t press laundry correctly (referring to the past 2 episodes of the Apprentice).

I mean, wouldn’t it have been great to have hired that guy who was on that Anne Widecombe show who was on “benefits” because the pay he was getting in a job was too low – this would have been a great chance for people like him to prove they weren’t lazy or just wanted “benefits”.

You could easily extend that to someone who never got any GCSEs, or perhaps even a homeless person (who obviously wouldn’t be revealed to be homeless until way, way into the series).

Yes. Yes. I know, its contrite, its wonderfully cliched and perhaps a naive notion. But my point is, who is setting the parameters for who can go on this show? Why is it set up like this? And why, are we, the public manipulating into thinking that only a certain type of person, with a certain background are the only ones to succeed.

Sometimes I feel that the narrow field view of the apprentice gives the false impression that you need a degree to get ahead in business. Branson famously never had a full compliment of GCSEs, and Sir Alan brings up his upbringing and lack of degrees throughout this, and previous series’ of the Apprentice.

There’s another thing I’ve picked up as well. Sir Alan’s need to share poverty stories whilst being driven around in a Rolls Royce. Some of the challenges have been purposefully been created to bring people with huge egos down to the same playing field, other tasks are designed to prove the ability of one, or more; but I find it curious that there is a majority of tasks that seemed to play up the “poverty story” within tasks.

Whether its selling fish, or pressing laundry; there seems to be a chip on Sir Alan’s shoulder, and he feels compelled to purposefully tell people that the only way to win his trust, or respect is to work very, very hard doing meaningless work that he used to do when he was a nipper.

Whilst its good that you get to see what Sir Alan, and other business people, had to go through; what does it prove, except that business and life is hard? But don’t worry – you see Sir Alan is driving around in a Rolls Royce. I wouldn’t call it hypocrisy, but then I wouldn’t know what to call it. I do find it curious though.

Sometimes, the Apprentice hasn’t really learnt any lessons from the US version. They had a whole series of “book smarts vs street smarts” and had different themes/ideas for each series, whereas the UK version seems to be the same process each series.

The hidden messages of class warfare, bullying, ego-driven megalomania and the constant desire of contestants to show that they are the “man” by being mean, nasty, Machiavellian and down-right aggressive gives the wrong impression of business.

But, then its only a game show.