Not much business acumen on show in ‘reality’ TV
THERE ARE A COUPLE of business oriented ‘reality’ TV programmes on BBC TV these days and my view of them could not be more different.
One of them, Dragon's Den, is, I think, an appalling programme where real people - potential entrepreneurs, who have often given up well-paid careers, borrowed their credit cards up to the max, and remortgaged their homes in order to take a huge risk and invest in a new business - are usually subjected to public humiliation at the hands of the ‘dragons’.
From the pitches that are given it is apparent the contestants are not given any coaching or training in presentation skills. Indeed, the more of a hapless fool the poor would-be entrepreneurs appear to be in front of the camera, the better the show, and, I guess, the better the ratings.
Unlike the ‘dragons’, I don't believe real business creation is a fit subject for television entertainment, and I certainly wouldn't recommend that anyone aiming to start up a business take their proposition on to this show.
The other programme, The Apprentice, I must admit I rather enjoy. The reason being it is just a game show, it isn't ‘real life’, and it is often great fun.
The contestants are usually young and attractive, fiercely competitive, seem to take it all quite seriously, and work together in so-called teams whilst simultaneously stabbing each other in the back while the tasks are mostly silly, and often don't allow for the demonstration of any proper business skills.
‘Siralan’ - as host Sir Alan Sugar insists on being called - invariably awards his winning ‘luxury treat’ to the team which has flogged the most 'stuff ' by any means by spending the least money on materials.
There is no attempt to create a lasting brand or build any reputation for quality, which would normally be good strategies for anybody building a proper business. This is ‘Del-boy’ stuff and usually rewards the behaviour that best resembles that of a confidence trickster.
Alan Sugar, despite having made his name manufacturing electronic gadgets such as word processors, satellite set top boxes and em@iler devices, doesn't seem to have his hand on the pulse of the gadget marketplace.
In February 2005 he famously predicted the iPod would be “dead, finished, gone, kaput” by the following Christmas. As it happens, Apple sold 23 million iPods last year.
The first prize of working for Alan Sugar is so obviously an unpleasant outcome that it is difficult to take it seriously - it's just a bunch of fun. Or so I thought. However, Sir Alan Sugar has been promoted to the House of Lords and has taken up a new government position as an 'enterprise tsar'.
This is such a great idea that we can surely expect other hosts of reality TV shows to also be 'hired'.
Apparently former GMTV host Fiona Phillips has previously been approached to take up some sort of position in the department of health based on her extensive experience of sitting on the breakfast TV sofa.
With their unrivalled experience of putting celebrities in the jungle, Ant and Dec will presumably soon be made joint ministers for international relations.
Bruce Forsyth, based on the wonderful way he has hosted Strictly Come Dancing must be ideally suited to promote creative industries, particularly those involving public participation.
And after many years of overseeing Big Brother there can only be one candidate for communities' minister - it has to be Davina McCall.