Why I Stopped Blogging about The Apprentice

by Mike Clayton  - May 27, 2013


Two years ago, readership of my blog increased by a factor of twenty as I charted the highs and lows of a remarkable group of Apprentice candidates. Very quickly, it seemed to me that writing a weekly (sometimes twice a week) analysis was both fun and commercially valuable.

So I repeated it with the next Young Apprentice series, and then again, the following year with The Apprentice 2012. Rebuilding my website last summer, I made an �Apprentice Page� a part of my design specification.� That seems a long time ago.

Watching the first couple of episodes of last autumn�s Young Apprentice 2012, I realised something had changed.� Or my attitude had.� I stopped after only two blogs� and with no explanation: I am sorry.� This year, whilst I watched the first couple of episodes, I had already decided not to bother with a regular blog, and I have made no efforts to catch up with episodes I have missed.

Why the Change?

Firstly, I don�t blame the candidates. They may look like a bunch of cardboard clich�s fabricated at Jim Henson�s Muppet workshop, but I doubt it is entirely (probably not even largely) their fault. They are selected and the clips are chosen to make them look that way.� I blame the production company and possibly the commissioning editors at the BBC.� They give us the programme they think we want to see.

It is not the programme I want to see.� I don�t want to see:

  1. Evidence that none of four adults can accurately carry out multiplication and division
  2. Examples of crass insensitivity and dis-respect
  3. Bickering, fighting, blaming and excuses
    (I was going to say that I could go to my daughter�s nursery for that, but the truth is that it is far too well run by the professional nursery team!)
  4. Success as a result of others� failures or, worse, of putting others down
  5. Constant focus on weaknesses and failings

Yet that is what the programme makers offer us.� They may think it makes good television, but I now find I prefer the relatively genteel and anodyne MasterChef.� Over the last four series since I started watching MasterChef, we have seen:

  1. Astonishing examples of excellence lauded appropriately
  2. Winners who won by being even better than the excellent runners up who drove them to excel and succeeded on their own merits rather than on the failings of others
  3. Judges who look for and celebrate success and achievement
  4. � and who are genuinely upset by contestants� setbacks
  5. Judges expecting the best from everyone and pushing contestants to do their best, and offering honest and constructive feedback when they don�t
  6. Contestants who share their passion and seem to genuinely like and respect one-another
  7. A process that shows real and rapid progression of learning and skills
  8. Losers who have won the respect of judges and audiences for their own outstanding performances


A MasterChef blog?

I doubt it. I believe I am qualified to draw business and management lessons from a well-structured business competition, but I am in no way competent to judge, publicly, the choices and performance of people whose abilities start well above my own, and progress rapidly to a very different scale of capability.

A Plea to Lord Sugar�s Producers

If The Apprentice is to be worth watching for people like me (and I fully accept I may no longer be your target audience), please stop and learn some lessons from MasterChef.� Make your show more about admirable qualities and staggering performance, and less about weakness, humiliation and the worst of train-wreck telly. You don�t need that to create drama, tension and human stories; MasterChef shows us that.� You will, indeed, lose some of your viewers, but you will also gain many too.

You stand to gain a grateful audience of people like me, who want to admire talented young will-be entrepreneurs, rather than sneer at miserable wannabees.

The Apprentice 2013

Leave a Reply

  1. how refreshingly sensible ! I applaud your clarity & hope that tv production companies everywhere hear your views LOUD & CLEAR!

  2. I agree with what you say about both shows, but will miss this blog 🙁

    Luckily, it seems you write plenty of other blogs 🙂

  3. Mike, I understand exactly where you are coming from, and I too miss your posts. In continuing to blog the series myself, it’s become apparent that all we see now is – as you say – what the producers consider to be what audiences want. Somewhere along the line, what started out as a series which taught us some basic business lessons by showing us the candidates’ successes as well as their failures has focussed increasingly on just the failures and the kind of behaviours which belong in the Big Brother house, not a business environment. Anyone who does attempt to behave professionally is merely seen as weak. For me it remains an entertaining show, but much less than what it once aspired to be.

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