The Apprentice is Now Too Far from “Reality”

The Spidey family has always watched reality television competitions.  We watch American Idol, Amazing Race, Design Star, Top Chef, and Hell’s Kitchen.  So, when The Apprentice returned this season with a non-celebrity version, I jumped right back in.

I remember The Apprentice back when Bill, Kelly, Kendra and Randall won.  I remember when it moved to Los Angeles, and the losing teams each week had to sleep in tents, while the winners stayed in a cushy house.  As I recall, those seasons past were a business skills and leadership competition, like Top Chef being a cooking competition or Design Star being a decorating competition.  Just as we can watch Top Chef and learn a bit about cooking, I felt that Apprentice provided some interesting lessons about project management and about how to be successful as a member of a team.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the 2010 season.  This season, the Apprentice is incredibly unappealing.  The hour-long shows focus more on the backstabbing and intrigue between contestants than on the business tasks themselves.  Apprentice 2010 is now like Big Brother or Survivor, in which defeating other opponents by undermining and deceiving them is the way to go.  It seems like Mr. Trump isn’t looking to hire the most talented person, but instead the person who “outwits, outplays, and outlasts” the other competitors.

As James Speaks, David is Being "David:" Boorish, Loud, Arrogant and Insubordinate.

If I was learning from the Apprentice’s first three episodes this season, this is what I would do to get ahead:

  1. I would undermine by boss aggressively and openly, without remorse.
  2. Knowing others followed #1, I would never volunteer for any leadership position.
  3. I would focus first on moving my team members out of my path to the top and second on generating the business results we needed.
  4. To accomplish #3, I would be risk averse and would not speak up to our boss, even when others acted unprofessionally and unethically.
  5. If I was asked by our boss about others, I would follow the lead of my more aggressive colleagues and criticize they people they are criticizing.

As someone who has been in and out of corporate America and respects success stories, I am embarrassed that Trump is sending these messages.  I am incredulous that he allows contestants like Mahsa and David to continue on the show when he would never ever hire them in real life.  They are both rude and callous bullies that would have no role in most companies.  They would last less than a week where I work now, if even that long.

This is Mahsa. Please Leave. Please Get Fired. Please.

(While I’m writing about Mahsa, I think it’s fair to ask why she’s even on this show.  This season is billed as helping those who have been impacted by the economy.  She, however, according to her official bio, “works as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, New York, and is the host of two web shows on the side.”  It really doesn’t sound like she’s hurting.)

Mr. Trump, if you’re reading, I urge you to change course.  Focus more on the tasks and how results are achieved.  Make firing decisions based on what you know needs to be done, not based on what you are told makes good television.  Survivor does well when producers have no control over the voting.  You can choose who gets to stay and who goes.  I urge you to make better decisions.

Come back to “reality” please.


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