Monthly arts and media column

Eleanor Margesson  |  Features
Date posted:  1 Jun 2008
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BBC2’s The Apprentice is now in the middle of its fourth series and the ratings keep on climbing. 7.4 million watched episode five in which the contestants competed to win orders for strange new flavours of ice cream. The show soars over the success of personality driven vehicles such as Big Brother because of the need for contestants to demonstrate skills in the real world.

Having said that, there are still plenty of personalities at work. At the heart of the programme lies the ruthless character of Sir Alan Sugar. The 61-year-old offers young wannabe tycoons the enticing prize of working with him and over 20,000 applied to take part in the show. His hardnosed business approach has made him the 92nd richest person in the UK with a personal fortune of £830m. Most young people today want that. Yet many GCSE Business Studies teachers are using clips from the series to show classes how not to do business in the real world.

Testing the candidate’s skills

Perhaps this is because Sir Alan believes that, in sales, ‘presentation is everything’. His own business history shows that style tends to be more important than content and the quality of the service comes second to how much you can get for it. Sir Alan Sugar’s Amstrad business provided computers that served undemanding PC users in the 80s, but they were built using cheap components.

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