Did I mention that I love The Apprentice?
I don’t know why. I remember when the trailers for the show first aired – I had no interest in watching it whatsoever. I was repelled by the images of Donald Trump – a frog-like personna if you ever saw one, replete with perma-pursed lips – and all those corporate types in suits.
But then one Friday night while I was waiting for my friends to hurry up and get dressed and come pick me up already, I ended up catching the show out of sheer ennui. And I was hooked. I was glad my friends were late – I spent the breaks hoping they wouldn’t show. I had a feeling of exhileration when the programme ended and someone was fired (not because they were fired but because of all the drama leading up to it). I experienced desperation thinking about how many shows I had missed already and in subsequent weeks was greatful for reruns.
I think what drew me to the show was how, contrary to expectation, the contestants did not spew management jargon at the screen or even if they tried to, it was very soon countered by the actual living out of that textbook-speak. I even garnered new respect for the ‘management types’ – especially in the booksmarts versus streetsmarts series where I was kind of surprised to discover that the booksmarts actually did better.
What I learn from The Apprentice is how to be a corporate bitch. How to succeed in the real world. How to plot and plan and ocassionally – if not always – run over other people. How to stay out of certain conflicts and how and when to jump up and say “me me me” at other times. These are things that might come naturally to some people and that other people learn in business school where they interract with other ‘motivated’ types and learn about how cut-throat it can all be based just on class assignments but frankly I never had to think about them that much.
But in any industry, whether corporate or not, you realise that the same principles apply:
1) People respond to well dressed good looking people
2) Women are always going to be at a disadvantage and slightly patronized so you need to use few benefits that come with being a woman to your advantage
3) Using corporate speak can cover up a multitude of flaws while sounding professional
4) You have to keep promoting yourself
5) If you’ve made a mistake don’t admit it even if you don’t openly blame anyone else
All the above go against the good honest behaviour I used to pride myself in. But they are in line with The Game.
And then yesterday on The Apprentice, I saw a guy who was a smart, young executive who obviously had succeeded in life and who knew how to play The Game and who was yet unwilling to throw all principles away and become a complete asshole. And then you are faced with a choice – to be or not to be, and whether in any case you could be even if you wanted to.