back to article 'The Apprentice' is a load of old codswallop, says biz prof

BBC "reality" TV show The Apprentice is totally rubbish and offers no lessons of any value on how to succeed in business - indeed quite the opposite - according to a professor. “The Apprentice presents the idea that you have to be sociopathic in your relations with others in order to succeed in business," fumes Professor …


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  1. spegru

    It's TV

    I enjoyed the first couple of series, but after that came to realise that The Apprentice is utter tripe. Ok just maybe some of it would be appropriate at a call centre selling PPI or double glazing, but what's distinctly missing is the importance of having a good business idea.

    The programme is now well past its sell by date!

    1. Richard Jones 1

      Re: It's TV

      I can only agree with you. I have not seen anything that would inspire me and most of the time find myself unable to understand any of the antics of those taking part. The 'tasks' appear so unrelated to useful activities that they really belong on 'You are being framed'. Because the activities are pre assigned to be done in a few moments and clearly aimed at a TV slot, they lack reality.

      To be effective it should be based on the apprentice coming up with the idea and working it through from concept to success or failure. It should be about seeing how well they deal with the need to develop their idea, drop failures and identify required corrections.

      A great deal of business is like politics, 'the art of the possible'.

      Frankly the apprentice is just not possible as many of the past results have shown.

      1. Lallabalalla

        Re: It's TV: develop their idea, drop failures and identify required corrections

        This happens in microcosm every week on every task. It is exactly what it's about. That, and finding out that behaving like an arse gets you nowhere in the end.

    2. LarsG

      Re: It's TV

      Yes it is just a Game Show with a prize, that anyone takes it seriously is beyond me.

      Just sit back, watch it and enjoy the fact that you can watch a bunch of inadequate self publicist idiots humiliate and make fools out of themselves.

      It takes over where Big Brother left off, it's fun to watch.

      The fact that they all take themselves so seriously is even funnier, I mean, we all know people like this exist but to bring so many together in one place, amazing!

      1. FanMan

        Re: It's TV

        At the age of 69½ it has become clear to me that life is too short to waste a millisecond of it watching the antics of these boring losers

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: It's TV

          Just stop calling it (and associated crap like Big Brother) "reality" TV. Or at least insert the words "nightmare alternate" in front.

          Reality TV should be reserved for shows about real people doing real jobs, in the fly-on-the-wall reporting style, and where they're doing jobs that are at least vaguely interesting. Things like Ice Road Truckers, that Eddie Stobart show on C5 and the few there have been lately on BBC2 about the railways and underground. All quite watchable (if not exactly mentally taxing) but none (or few) of the made-up primadonnas that the TOWIE-style drivel seem to excel at.

          But then I guess in this modern-day celebrity-obsessed, look-at-me social media culture, having stuff to watch that maybe needs a bit of an attention span could be too much to ask.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: It's TV

            I thought the railway and the underground programmes were an excellent use of our licence fee.

            As to the Apprentice

            Not a fan of Amstrad, but he has made a fortune out of selling crap.

      2. Tom 35 Silver badge

        it's fun to watch.

        No it's not. Along with all the other "reality" shows, it make quiz shows look good.

    3. kraut

      Re: It's TV

      It really took you a couple of YEARS to realise it's utter tripe?


  2. Sceptic Tank

    This ain't academia.

    I worked for a few MagaCorps in my life. The backstabbing and mistrust seems pretty realistic.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: This ain't academia.

      I still work in a MegaCrop, the backstabbing and mistrust are part of daily business, certainly among those that wish to climb the corporate ladder, most of them are absolute losers though.

      BUT, the same "backstabbing and mistrust " I have also seen in smaller companies, certainely in the ones where there was money to be earned.....

      Human beings are far from perfect. It is not for nothing that greed is one of the 7 sins.

      I have only seen clips of that program on YT but from what I have seen it has nothing to do with creating your own business and more to do with getting yourself a little exposure ( exposure is good for business though).

      1. Lallabalalla

        Re: This ain't academia.

        How many of these "absolute losers" are a) ahead of you up the ladder b) in charge of the company and c) earning real megabucks in salary, perks, "expenses" and options? Because love them or hate them you may want to redifine your idea of what constitutes "a loser",

    2. Gray Ham

      Re: This ain't academia.

      Not just corporations and smaller businesses - it would be pretty similar in many academic departments. There are some pretty atrocious government departments around this city too.

      Incidentally, I know that Warwick and Keele (my alma mater) are universities ... but Staffordshire? Is that the old North Staffs Poly?

      1. Blitheringeejit

        Staffordshire Uni AFAIK an mash-up of North Staffs Poly and one or two of the old FE colleges in Stafford. There's a large site on the edge of Stafford, as well as the old Poly site in Stoke.

        I went to Keele too, but I don't think it counts as an alma mater cos there weren't no latin spoke there in my day.

    3. g e
      Black Helicopters

      Re: This ain't academia.

      I would submit that the amount of backstabbing and bastardness is directly proportional to the greed & avarice of those involved.

      So is a good indicator of who to distrust in the first place as you attempt to weave your way through life as comfortably as you're able with the minimum of outright bullshit.

      Black helicopter cos a good conspiracy theory will always deflect attention from what shitty behaviour you're really up to

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: This ain't academia.

        The amount of backstabbing and treachery is inversely proportional to the actual capabilities of those involved.

        About 98% of the crap I've seen in the corporate arena has been pulled by those who were not well suited to their roles. If you're really good at what you do you are immune to office bullishit and protected by those who you make money for and you have no reason to wallow in the mud with those involved in that crap.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: This ain't academia.

          par for the course for NHS managers too.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    And it's taken how long to notice this?

    The Apprentice is *nothing* to do with how to succeed in business and everything to do with how to succeed in television.

    Though I have had a sneaking suspicion for a long time that people who throw *everything* into a 'career' - working all the hours there are, 'apprentice'-like behaviour, ignoring work-life balance and so on - are suffering from at least a form of OCD.

    Sane people work to pay off the mortgage and to eat; earning more than you can possibly ever spend is not a sane goal even if there are a handful of examples of people who have done it.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: And it's taken how long to notice this?

      Sane people work to pay off the mortgage and to eat; earning more than you can possibly ever spend is not a sane goal even if there are a handful of examples of people who have done it.

      The trick isn't earning more than you can spend, it's the much more difficult goal of earning more than your spouse and children can spend too...

      1. Lallabalalla

        Re: And it's taken how long to notice this?

        No joke. Also, how much can all of you spend throughout the rest of your life when you retire at 35 instead of slogging your guts out for SFA till you drop dead of old age?

        1. Captain Underpants

          Re: And it's taken how long to notice this?

          @Anonymous Custard:

          Well, if you're going to assume that the spouse should have no ambition beyond sitting around at home alternating between Raising The Kids and Cleaning The Home (with occasional forays into Spending Your Hard Earned Cash, Grumble Grumble) then yeah, I guess you might run into trouble. That doesn't mean it's how everyone does it.


          Retiring at 35 to arse about on a beach is all very well, but the shortening of your life expectancy resulting from the kind of stress usually involved in the relatively few jobs that can actually pay that well will mean you're not necessarily doing well compared to those who decide that Loads Of Cash + Early Retirement isn't the goal. Horses for courses, of course, but there's no one right answer that applies to everyone...

  4. graeme leggett

    Professor late to party

    Of course it's not realistic, otherwise it would be on BBC2 or BBC4, though given the number of youngish candidates it could be on BBC3.

    It's tv, its entertainment based on a "real" idea. If I wanted to try to learn how to suceed in a business environment from TV I'd watch as much of Michael Roux Jr on the box as I could and become a chef. Education on TV was the Open University at obscure hours of the day, never midweek prime-time.

    I watch the Apprentice and I enjoy a lot of it, but I have the leave the room for some of the mixture of vileness and competence they show - and even then I am aware of that it's been carefully selected by the producer/director for just that purpose. Outside that little TV bubble they may even be half-decent human beings (witness the post-ejection programme on BBC2 with Daira).

    I presume though the good professor is using his criticism of the programme to boost himself, not quite as sordid as the using-each-other-as-footstools-to-the-top portrayed on the goggle-box.

  5. Cameron Colley

    How would the professor know though?

    While I am sure that the TV show will be innacurate in places, how many million does the professor have in the bank? Why would anyone take business advice from anyone with less than a couple of million to their name?

    1. localzuk

      Re: How would the professor know though?

      You know, Al Capone had a lot of cash. Same with loads of criminal gangs, cartels etc... So are you saying we should all follow their examples?

      You know, there are relatively few 'giant' companies in the world. The vast majority of businesses are small - half a dozen employees sort of thing. Do you think a company of that size will succeed if the owner/manager is a complete prat?

      The professor is quite correct, if you want to succeed in your own business, being a megalomaniac will not help you. Doing a good job, having a good product or service, not screwing over your customers, treating your staff well etc... it'll all help you to succeed.

      Giant corporations are a different matter - and they're basically an exception rather than the rule.

      1. Cameron Colley

        Re: How would the professor know though?

        I never said the professor was completely wrong. Also I think you'll find Al Capone was a shit businessmen -- even Jimmy Carr knows to hire a good accountant -- and he actually made no money due to dire business errors. Most criminals are the same -- apart from those who spy on their customers illegally for governments.

        Still doesn't answer my question as to why I should follow the advice of a man who has no experience in the field? I know not all millionaires are dicks but, unsurprisingly, a lot of dicks have been a lot more successful than a random academic.

        If I want advice on how to be a professor I'll ask a professor if I want advice on how to build a Business I'll ask a successful businessman.

        May I ask the successful milionaire business people who voted me down why I ought to listen to somebody who hasn't made it rich?

    2. ISYS
      Thumb Up

      Re: How would the professor know though?

      I was Just thinking the same thing. I am sure he is correct in what he says but why would an expert in business management be working at a University and not running a successful business?

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: How would the professor know though?

      A as opposed top taking business advice from someone who flogged load of cheap hifi in the eighties, a load of cheap computers in the early nineties and has done nothing since but rent out the property he bought with the profits?

      1. bonkers

        Re: How would the professor know though?

        well put. Its an outrage that Sugar puts himself forward as some sort of computer guru, his philosophy always was simply beating the shit out of suppliers - for most of them it was their last deal. His affordable PC breakthrough was a fire sale of ill-conceived non-compatible PC things.

        That said, I do find his judgement good, he sees through most or all of the cuntestants pretty easily.

        As others bemoan, something with the germ of an original idea and some real progression would be so much better than all the vapid marketing bollocks.

      2. Jim 59

        Re: How would the professor know though?

        Seems like a person like that would give good business advice. As for cheap computers, what's not to like ?

  6. Sooty

    Missing the point

    It's not about them succeeding, that's almost irrelevant. It's about taking the "high powered management types" who you work with everyday, giving them a practical task, and watching them fail spectacularly due to some schoolboy error.

    You watch it and think "I was right in what I thought about my managers"

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Re: Missing the point

      Absolutely. Ever seen Celebrity Apprentice? So called high-flyers who appear to be unable to tie their own shoe laces with the help of their PA.

  7. Cliff

    The Generation Game

    That's all it is, it's a knockout format generation game - it's an entertainment format, it's Big Brother in shiny suits. That's all it ever was.

    Has it really taken 8 years for the penny to drop that the contestants are chosen for TV, not for becoming middle management? Guess what, the 'board room' isn't really in the pointy bit of Canary Wharf, the receptionists don't really have to use Amstrad emailer phones. Next it'll be 'oh, Dragons Den is all about egos'.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: The Generation Game

      At least with Dragon's Den, some of them have gone on to be sucessful. Levi Roots is by far the most successful, but others have benefited as well.

      Has anyone on The Apprentice been successful as a result of appearing on the show? It doesn't have to be one of the winners, the most successful Britain's Got Talent contestant was Susan Boyle, who came second, and the most successful X-Factor contestants are JLS who finished second, One Direction who finished 3rd, and the comedy duo Jedward who were knocked out fairly early on in the series.

      1. Cliff

        Re: The Generation Game

        Dragons Den also worked for Ling, the self-styled 'mental oriental' who has a vehicle leasing business.

        She turned down the cash offers, then when the producers begged her to renegotiate, did the same again. She costed the equivalent advertising would have been a quarter of a million quid, so giving away the company to a narcissistic bully/granny farmer/carousel VAT entrepreneur is madness by comparison. That's almost certainly why the Levi Roots brand worked, because of the publicity and his own natural charisma.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Generation Game

          I've met Ling in person. I only discovered the batshit-insane-ness of her website and Dragon's Den performance afterwards- gave me a good laugh, that did.

  8. a cynic writes...

    Obligatory Mitchell & Webb link

  9. Pete the not so great

    The whole format is redundant, when's Dragon's den back on?

  10. Charles Manning

    Its entertainment, not education

    Anyone who tries to learn cooking from Master Chef, survival skills from Survivor or business from The Apprentice can sign up for the new show I'm starting. It is called "Am I the world's biggest moron?"

    1. Eponymous Cowherd

      Re: Its entertainment, not education

      The apprentice I can agree with, but have picked up some good ideas from Master Chef, particularly Michel Roux's walk-throughs.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Its entertainment, not education

        I learned my survival skills from Master Chief.

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Can we now discuss the arming of wahabbi jihadis in Syria with seriously serious gear including AA missiles?

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Are they bigger than AAA missiles?

      1. hplasm Silver badge

        No Jihad on the moon with less than 8 D size though.

  12. Anomalous Cowshed

    TV show is a load of codswallop? I am shocked

    TV is entertainment. Most people think it's real, because they watch it day in, day out, and the characters in the soap operas, the news anchors and the characters in the morning shows start to get very familiar, like reliable family members or friends. But it is, in fact, really just entertainment, and unlike real life, in which you expect to see your friends and family at least from time to time, the people on TV have never met you, will never meet you, and don't want to have anything to do with you. In fact they don't know you exist. They are just earning their living playing out a script for the entertainment of the masses.

    And to anyone who believes that you can learn a lot from TV - for instance from documentaries - I say: beware. They serve you regurgitated and pre-packaged information, designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator and to give you the illusion of knowing everything about the topic, whereas in truth, you know nothing about it, and your illusion about knowing a lot is likely to stop you* from ever opening up your mind and finding out more in a serious way.

    Tinfoil hat version: is designed to prevent you

  13. wowfood
    IT Angle

    Can't stand the show

    I've watched a few eps from each season and honestly I woudln't hire a single on of the morongs they have on that show. If I were to launch a product, put together a team and say "you decide who's in charge" and then find out the product was a failure. I do not want to see a group of adults shouting and screaming over the top of each other trying to place the blame. "It's not my fault it was a great idea HE just didn't push it hard enough!" blah blah blah. They act like a bunch of kindergarteners.

    I'd much rather see a bunch of people who can behave like adults, people who will say "I put forward the idea and we all agreed on it, it was a market none of us really understood and we could have done with more time to research the demographic. I felt boris didn't put his full effort into the product, but he disagreed with the original idea anyway"

    Of course actually seeing people behave like adults would never work for entertainment.

    The one thing I do love, for comedy more than anything, is their taglines when they introduce themselves.

    "Hi my names Danny and I'm an entrepeneur. I may be short, but I'm large of mad skillz"

    I'd like to see one of them on there with this tagline

    "Hi my names Boris, and I have the nose of a bluebottle, I can smell shit from a mile away."

    1. Eponymous Cowherd

      Re: Can't stand the show

      I'd like to see one of them, when berated by Sugar for failing, to come back with "at least it wasn't as big a f**k up as the Amstrad eMailer"

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Get it right

      "Hi my names Boris, and I have the nose of a cockroach, I can smell shit from a mile away."

      And yes, I work with a exactly the people you see on the show, 1 is a complete butt licker, 1 steals anyone's good ideas for improving productivity/reducing costs and claims them as his own, and the last one only keeps his job because he's related to the owner.

      And I pride myself for stabbing people from the front.... that way you can do exactly the same amount of damage to their precious ego AND get to see the expression on their face

  14. Steve Button

    That must be "Professor YouDontSay"

    isn't he the one that works for the University of OReally?

    In the department of The Bleedin' Obvious.

  15. Eponymous Cowherd

    Walloping a cod can be fun.

    The point here isn't that the Apprentice is a load of codswallop, but that the prof thought it could ever be anything else.

    Its entertainment. They get a bunch of the most obnoxious and incompatible assholes they can find and ask them to work as a "team" on an obscure project.

    We sit back and laugh at them as they fail because they are the kind of repulsive and overbearing individuals we all love to hate.

  16. jake Silver badge

    Of COURSE it's old codswallup.

    TV only exists to sell razor blades, tampons, beer & laundry detergent.

    I feel sorry for the drooling mouth-breathers who think that over-produced, badly scripted, and even worse written so-called "reality TV" is anything more than an excuse to sell product ...

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Of COURSE it's old codswallup.

      You forgot the word 'most', Jake - the BBC is unique in that it is *not* intended to deliver eyeballs to advertisers. Its charter requires it to educate, inform, and entertain - though it's not clear into which category The Apprentice fits.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Neil Barnes (was: Re: Of COURSE it's old codswallup.)

        One thing you are forgetting ... "BBC America" is a commercial funded thingie. And I suspect it's watched by a couple of orders of magnitude more drooling idiots than the BBC is in the UK.

        I tried to watch "The Apprentice" a couple times. It falls far outside the BBC's charter. But at least it's bringing money into blighty from us daft Yanks, right?

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: @Neil Barnes (was: Of COURSE it's old codswallup.)

          Fair point, Jake. It's a while since I've seen BBC America; I don't know how much local content there is and how much is generated here in Blighty for our consumption and just cut'n'pasted to the states.

          Please feel free to continue supplying the BBC with money; it's got to top up my pension *somehow*!

          1. graeme leggett

            Re: @Neil Barnes (was: Of COURSE it's old codswallup.)

            @Jake, Neil

            In so far as I am aware, BBC America's top performing show is Doctor Who. but if it is Top GEar must be a close second

            I think the audience level for DW when broadcast is about equivalent to the iPlayer numbers for the same episode - around a million or so.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Of COURSE it's old codswallup.

      I have never understood tampon/pad commercials. All the girls I've ever known use whatever brand their mother introduced them to and have never experimented with other brands.

      I can understand beer commercials as people do experiment, unfortunately I've never seen a commercial for a beer I like, just the shitty ones. Someone should do a study of marketing expenditures and see if there's a link between quality and marketing spend. I bet their is.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Of COURSE it's old codswallup.

        An inverse relationship

  17. peter 45

    Well Doh

    It took a Professor to tell us that it a load of tripe?

  18. KierO

    Love it.

    I love the dam show....Working in business I find it more akin to a very tongue-in-cheek sitcom. It's so far removed from the truth that it's laughable.

  19. Magister


    "Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach."

    Those that couldn't give a shit either way, watch it on television.

    1. Don Jefe
      Thumb Down

      Re: Remember

      Those that can do neither of those things whip out asinine sayings like that.

      Several of my professors were wealthy several times over before they decided to go into teaching and my wife is successful in her field and decided it was important to share her knowledge with the next generation of researchers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Remember

        Shaw made the remark purely to be provocative - he was a very successful self publicist. One of his attention getting stunts was his proof of atheism - he got out his watch and invited God to strike him dead within a minute. Thus God didn't exist.

        The Shavian publicity machine didn't mention the person who watched this performance and then remarked "That, or God has more sense than George Bernard Shaw".

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prof Parker, who teaches management and business studies at Leicester, is described by the university as "a leading authority on business organisation and culture". He has been at his current university since 2003, having previously worked at Staffordshire, Keele and Warwick universities, and says "my background is in anthropology, sociology and cultural studies".

    So he's never actually run a business then? Worked in one then... no? Oh I see, he knows about it because he's watched it, and read some books about it, and that made him an expert. Right...

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      I think you miss the point. It needs the disinterested observer to look at what happens.

      And, not everyone lives to coin loads-a-money.

      Some, presumably like the good Prof, want to run university departments ( A prof is a manager, not just a perpetual student). But plenty of others just want to do what they enjoy or are good at, be it academics, chefs or gardeners.

  21. Tank boy

    At least you aren't stuck with Trump like we are here in America. I'm still puzzling over how he could manage to bankrupt a casino, yet a lot of folks think he's some type of genius. Yes, he's smart, he blows other peoples money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He still gets people to invest in his schemes regardless of how many times he's gone bankrupt, I'd say that takes some kind of 'intelligence', the utterly malevolent manipulative kind.

      1. Don Jefe

        Bankruptcy does not necessarily indicate a business failure. It can be successfully exploited as a strategy; but as you say, it is generally exploited by shitty people.

  22. LeckyT

    Don't Be So Harsh, It's an Old Format!

    I'll be honest, I've followed The Apprentice in pretty much all its incarnations (in the English speaking world, that is) as well as digested a lot of other business-related reality TV, and I still think that the UK Apprentice is one of the better examples of the format.

    With that said, it does have its flaws, partly because the attraction of 'being on the telly' mixed with the continuous quest for ever-higher ratings, leads to some interesting candidate decisions. We all like the 'characters', but it is supposed to be a business programme, and as such when we get to the sharp end of the process, we expect to have some pretty serious people left to fight it out.

    Largely, it's self regulating, and the self-regulating part almost works, much of the time. In other words, it's not always the best candidate that will win through, but we are guaranteed entertainment along the way.

    The show may well have run its course, but looking back over the last 9 series, I believe that there are a few nuggets of advice, and some lessons to be learned in business, from the tasks that have been set over the years.

    But, it is, at the core, entertainment, and we should not forget that.


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The show is fun to watch, however the format could be improved. I'd get 'Sir Lord' to actually kill the losing candidates, right there in the board room. Using a variety of methods through the weeks, to keep interest. Week one 'firing' could be a recreation of the scene in 'lock stock' where Mr Sugar leaps onto the boardroom table, and beats the loser to death with a 15 inch black rubber 'item'.

  24. Mr Anonymous

    Watch the first 10 mins

    Put the candidates on the "throw CV in bin" list.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought he might appeal to some here

    Authored or edited:

    Alternative Business: Outlaws, Crime and Culture.

    Space Travel and Culture: From Apollo to Space Tourism.

    The Age of Anxiety: Conspiracy Theory and the Human Sciences.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I do watch the apprentice but I certainly dont assume any realism in it. I often watch to laugh at sugar to see which of his multiple personalities will judge the loser. One week they should be listening to marketing research, the next they should have gone with their gut. One week the project leader should be in branding because it lost the task, next week with the product because that failed the team.

    I often find the team with the good idea and good direction lose while the team who mess up at every opportunity win. When someone takes a gamble and win they are held high by sugar as the way to do things. When the gamble fails they took a stupid risk and lost.

    The only thing I take seriously from the show is I wouldnt want to work with lord sugar.

  27. envmod

    "BBC reality"TV show The Apprentice is totally rubbish and offers no lessons of any value on how to succeed in business"

    lol, no shit.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      There is value

      The Apprentice does show that you can sell any kind of crap if you try really hard.

      It also shows, in a very basic outline, the process of development, distribution and marketing of new products.

      However, the main thing it does not show (which is understandable, given that it is a TV show and not a documentary) is the actual economics of each task (the cost of all those service providers, designers, marketers etc.) and, also, the difficulties (time and efforts and frustrations) of the deal-making involved, which, without having the BBC and Alan Sugar's name and money behind you, are very formidable indeed.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure anyone sensible takes it seriously's all a bit of fluffy entertainment, albeit sadly tinged with the 'f**k you' sentiment of our times. Thusly, people get of it (in an entertainment sense).

    In that respect, it's no different from any of the other bobbins on endless commission out there - Big Brother, that jungle thing...all hinged around a 'you're a loser, go home' ethos. I suppose some people feel better about themselves from watching that stuff.

  29. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    "All this has made the good prof a top expert in how to run a business"

    Funny how the top-most experts on how to run a business never actually run any businesses.

    "“Alan Sugar comes across as a Victorian melodrama version of a chief executive,” he said. “I don’t for a second think that he could have got to where he is by acting like this.""

    There is plenty of theatrics put on by Alan Sugar for TV, that's for sure. However, he is by far NOT the most eccentric or outspoken CEO or "boss" I have encountered.

    I suspect the professor's idea of an ideal CEO is as far detached from reality as the Apprentice "tasks" are from running a real business.

  30. Tsung
    Thumb Up

    Mitchell and Webb had it perfectly summed up.

    Hope You tube links work.

  31. Simon Rockman

    But Amstrad wasn't like that..

    Having worked for Amstrad and for a couple of massive companies it's odd to think of Amstrad as a 'corporate', it was amazingly free of metaphorical backstabbing. It was run like a family business and any skulduggery was aimed at extracting more money from customers - notably Dixons.

    But that was the big difference between the kind of business where "having a good meeting" or "doing a good internal presentation", is considered work. At Amstrad people recognised that all that mattered was people going into shops and buying an Amstrad computer in preference to an Acorn, IBM or Sinclair one.

    That came from the top, the "Mugs eyeful" and "Lorry driver and his wife" approach to products and marketing.

    Even the logo was just AMS and (~CTO) Bob Watkins leafing though a Letraset catalogue and choosing Futura Bold Outline. No meetings, analysis, focus groups.

  32. Mr Spigot

    Do we need Brian Cox... tell us the Tardis won't fly?

    1. smartypants

      Re: Do we need Brian Cox...

      Brian Cox replies:

      "Yes, but only if I can explain from the shores of a Caribbean Island, or perhaps the Australian Outback".

  33. Magnus_Pym

    Business opportunities?

    Where do they keep getting the 'business opportunities' from. Who in their right mind would have one of these bunch of cretins 'cater' for a business do or let them loose on real stock for 'product development'. Siralan must run out of favours to call in some day.

  34. Graham Marsden

    BBC "reality" TV show The Apprentice is totally rubbish

    You could have put the full stop after "rubbish" and not bothered with the rest of the article!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I refuse to watch it precisely because everyone on it is a sociopath that you wouldn't want anywhere near you in a real-world business. Everyone says "ah its just entertainment", but unfortunately, unlike other "reality" shoes, people actually believe this is the way business people behave. In reality if you had any of these pricks working for you, they'd be binned (or more likely, shuffled off to another department - because sacking is difficult) as quickly as possible.

  36. Lloyd

    In other news

    Reality TV is not worth watching, whether it be the Apprentice, Big Brother, or "talent" show dross like X-Factor, don't do it people, find a hobby, like nailing your testes to a plank of wood, it's more fulfilling and less painful to watch.

  37. Si 1

    Even Alan Sugar knows it's a load of codswallop

    He no longer hires his so-called apprentice at the end of the series, he just bungs them some cash and sends them on their way. He knows there's no point in putting any of these people on staff as they're all useless (or will take him to an employment tribunal).

  38. madestjohn


    By this, Are you implying that Donald Trump isn't the paragon of sound business practices as well?

  39. Pete 2 Silver badge

    If it was done properly

    Confession time: I only watched the first series. Before it started the concept seemed fresh and original. After the first series ended it was apparent it was simply a pantomime to be watched by people who thought Dallas was true to life how oil magnates lived.

    If someone wanted to make T.A. real, what tasks would the performers have to participate in?

    - Most original way to avoid attending a Health and Safety presentation. Performers have to come up with an excuse and then follow it through without getting caught, or found lying

    - The "bladder" challenge. Performers are made to drink 6 cups of coffee (proper stuff, not decaff) and then attend a meeting. Last one to run for the loo is the winner (and no relieving yourself "in-situ").

    - The screen-blank. Performers have to conceal their computer screens from the boss - whether they were just watching pr0n, updating FB or looking for a new job. The boss will sneak up on them from various directions and employing diversionary tactics. The performers must prevent the boss seeing what they are really up to.

    - The day off. Similar to avoiding H&S. The performers have to come up with excuses for skyving off for a day. As in real life, anyone coming back from a sickie and sporting a suntan gets fired on the spot.

    - Do unto others. The performers have to plant incriminating evidence of disloyalty or illegal activities on their bosses' PC. After all if you can't get your boss fired, how will you ever get promoted.

    If you think these are all pretty boring, desk based activities when you want people running round like 6-year olds on espressos trying to sell tat to idiots, then welcome to the real world of office work.

  40. Reue

    The maths never adds up. The 'winning' team on these tasks usually make a few hundred quid for 2 days work (researching/making then selling). Split this between the 6 on the team and they are earning below minimum wage each.

    Honestly, they'd be better off if they all went and worked at Mcdonalds for those 2 days and then pooled their earnings.

    Also agree with the earlier poster about Sugar's split personality. One week its all about listen to the focus groups, the next it should be totally disregarded etc etc.

  41. smartypants

    Alan Sugar = business genius

    The best evidence I have of that is that he saw a fabulous business opportunity to get paid 40 grand a year plus expenses for doing almost nothing, not to mention free use of a subsidised bar in a very exclusive gentleman's club in Westminster (Palace of), and what was the investment required?

    He simply had to stand up and look a bit silly for a couple of days on camera (something for which he has lots of qualifying experience) as the desperate outgoing government's "Business Tzar".

    Now I don't know about you, but if that doesn't show sharp business acumen, I don't know what does!

    His 'apprentices' on the other hand. Well they're very entertaining!

  42. SoaG

    Charlatan denigrates other charlatans, film at 11

    First off, who are these people that still watch TV and why have they never heard of the internet?

    Second, a business prof is the LAST person to refer to as an authority on business related matters.

    Third, stopped clock, twice a day, and all that, this time he's right.

    Fourth, the internet would be an exceedingly dangerous place for any that need to be told that reality shows bear no resemblance to reality. So it's probably for the best that they're still watching TV after all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Charlatan denigrates other charlatans, film at 11

      "Second, a business prof is the LAST person to refer to as an authority on business related matters."

      I wish I lived in your world where business finance, marketing, sales, and all the rest of it can just be invented out of thin air by someone in a hurry.

      I suspect that you don't know enough about business management to know why it's necessary.

      I was trying to explain some fairly basic stuff to a small businessman the other day and it was instant MEGO - but he doesn't understand why, if he wants to borrow money, retain staff and control costs, he needs more professionalism.

  43. This post has been deleted by its author

  44. The Man Himself Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I like it

    Any time I want to feel better about myself as a human being, I watch an episode on makes me realise how much better I am than some others.

  45. R69


    The great irony of the show is that if the contestants were anywhere near as talented, driven and capable as they seem to think they are, they would be too busy building and running their own enterprises to take part in some pointless x-factor type sales contest, that quite honestly gives the workplace a bad name.

    And theyd probably recognise that the much purported promised 'top job' probably doesnt really exist, neither does the mentoring and that working for one of the worlds jammiest, overrated and smugly self important 'businessmen' - might just be a complete waste of time....

  46. envmod


    who's giving all the sensible comments (ie the ones deploring the apprentice as possibly the most pointless, overhyped, cringeworthy television show on TV) the thumbs down?

    is sugar on here?

    if he is - i'd just like to say you're a total idiot. when did you suddenly become some business guru? you fucked up amstrad and tottenham hotspur, coudn't make it in the real business world so resorted to becoming some kind of "celebrity" cross between noel edmunds and the business studies teacher everybody laughs at.

  47. zapper

    Those that can do.... that that can't teach....

    I agree that the show has no real bearing on business apart from showing how easy it is to make basic mistakes, but then it is supposed to be entertaining rather than 'how to set up in business'. It is also edited with a severe slant on making some people look good and then slamming others.

    As to the Prof, I wonder if he has ever run his own business, or even had a job outside academia.. as they say those that can, do, those that can't .....

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What the Apprentice is for?

    The Apprentice is a business version of X-Factor. Where naive business types think that merely by winning a television contest and over-night they will be transported into the front ranks of the business class. All without having put in the work, for example writing songs and playing gigs. What the Apprentice is for is to exploit the deluded and flatter the gi-normous ego of Sir-call-me-lord-Allen Sugar.

  49. Dave Bell

    Isn't the US Version fronted by Donald Trump, who started out with a l;ot of family money. I can see an echo of the early Alan Sugar in the tasks given in the UK version, and he is the one with the money, not the professor.

    But that doesn't make the professor wrong about the sociopathy.

  50. Arachnoid

    Yes its "entertainment" and yes I wouldn't want to work with any of the self effacing twerps who seed this type of program,That said why is anybody taking notice of a "Professor" who doesn't work in the real business world and probably hasn't done so for years so has lost touch with reality.Classroom and real life are worlds apart just ask any student who gets a job if its what they expected.

  51. plrndl

    Academic Interest

    The program is obviously rubbish, or it wouldn't be on TV in the first place.

    That doesn't alter the fact that Lord Alan is a self-made multi-millionaire, and Prof Martin is worth how much? He should remember that the most common use of the word "academic" is to mean "irrelvant".

  52. RainForestGuppy

    I don't watch it but I do laugh when I read some of the profiles of the people on it

    Apprentice Speak:

    I've ran successful online ventures - Translation- I have some Facebook group pages

    I have my own ebusiness - Translation- I have a ebay site.

    I worked in high pressure Sales - Translation- I've worked in a call center.

  53. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    what next?

    Next I suppose you'll tell me that Donald Trump's hair is fake.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just out of curiosity, is there any new codswollop?

  55. SteveMD

    Alan sugar made his fortune by shear luck, akin to winning the lottery.

  56. JBH

    Appearing on that show can harm your career.

    A few years ago, my other half was involved in interviewing prospective employees. She received one CV from a young lady who claimed to have been a finalist on The Apprentice, so the first thing she did was Google her name - as you would. It turned out she HAD been on the Apprentice. Not only that, it became obvious that she was a right nasty piece of work and didn't have two brain cells to rub together. Needless to say, her CV was filed in the round tray, and I wouldn't be surprised if she was still looking for work now.

    The wife did however interview a Ukrainian wrestler, who fancied switching his career to marketing. True story.

  57. MarketingTechnoDude

    Amstrad etc.

    First of all I agree that the Apprentice does give a very delusional impression of business life. ...

    Regarding Amstrad, You have to give Lord Sugar credit for recognising a gap in the market for a low cost office computer designed primarily for regular office tasks such as word processing and spreadsheets etc. He got the feature set right along with affordable pricing. However, it didn't scale from there..and there was a reason for that.

    The Amstrad brand was tarnished with being a low quality hi-fi / music centre brand ... so he used the wrong branding on the product. If it was called some other (good sounding new brand), then so long as the quality was there, it could have been scaled and made global. Now that would have been real success. Instead, seems to have dipped into several other markets rather than remaining focussed on being a major computer vendor/brand (set top boxes, weird feature phones, advertising screens ... ). Yes it all made him probably lots of money, but he never seems to stay in there too long. Maybe that is the secret of being mega rich.. dip in and out quickly...still what if alternativebrandnametoamstradcomputersINC had been the DELL or Compaq it could have become? Viglen was probably an attempt to try get back into the computer segment but the brand wasn't nice sounding and it was too little too late... Compaq and Dell were in front... Real shame the Brits didn't capitalise on the head start in personal computers.. but then very rarely does the leader in the first category become the leader in the follow on category.

    Business and innovation is about good relationships with customers/suppliers and hiring the right people to get the job done .. oh and finance (investment and management of cash). Companies built from infighting ego-centric's usually fall apart, unless there is one cosmic overload whose rule is law and everyone hunkers down and obeys...

    On a positive note, it does give out a message that people can be entrepreneurial and create new businesses...

  58. Naughtyhorse

    Read all about it

    Alan Sugar tv vehicle favours assholes!

    film at 11

  59. ecofeco Silver badge

    Slow news day?


    How dare he insult codswallop like that!

  60. pewpie

    A man with a piece of paper said it..

    ..and now it is so.

  61. Herkybird

    I never realised the program was about business ethics, but simply an entertaining comedy on how to overcome small man syndrome.

  62. Tom 13

    Re: The business education offered by Leicester

    School of Management is about ethics, diversity and responsibility.

    So Leicester doesn't teach anything about business either just a different brand of political dithering.

    Well, at least The Apprentice is free. Not that I've ever watched it. I can't stand "reality" tv programs with more manufactured drama than a Broadway play. I've even given up on Biggest Loser because of the incessant focus on backstabbing and infighting. And it at least had as it's premise something that was objectively good for its contestants.

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