An examination of the impact of NBC's hit reality show on society. And a few requests on how to make The Apprentice 4 better.
The Apprentice is now wrapping its third season on NBC and Mr. Trump is about to choose his next Apprentice. Every viewer knows who is going to win, so I will not debate on who should become The Apprentice. As I was personally more concerned about Mr. Trump's ability to find at least one good candidate, I can't help but to think that "The Donald" is the actual lucky one this time. Since the day he stated in The Apprentice 4: Episode 5 that everyone ought to be fired (after both teams lost by producing two of the lousiest TV commercials ever done), he must be relieved to finish the season with at least one viable candidate out of 18.
As an avid, passionate viewer of the show, I think The Apprentice has been gradually going down the road in that sense. I will get past the "Money, Money, Money" line, which I think gives a bad name to business, or the Donald's obsession with size, winning and being the biggest in the world, which is very irritating. I probably have more affinities with Richard Branson — who unfortunately didn't get producers as smart as Mark Burnett and Jay Bienstock to do his show — than Donald Trump.
Not that I don't like Mr. Trump — my main problem with the show is with its progressive casting choice of the candidates. We went from having decent, flawed professional individuals to a bunch of losers. I don't care how rich they are, or whether they are "street smarts" or "book smarts." We are not asking them to be geniuses. As they are applying to be an Apprentice, the candidates obviously are still expected to need to learn a few things. What I am asking, though, is a smarter show with smarter candidates for the upcoming seasons.
The show continues to deliver the strongest concentration of upscale viewers, and is schedule to run for two more seasons. The Apprentice tapped into a more mature audience than the usual silly reality show, including entrepreneurs and business professionals who would not normally fit the profile of a reality show viewer. I have been surprised how many people from unexpected backgrounds watch the show. While designed to entertain, The Apprentice depicts behavior in a professional environment and offers the opportunity for viewers to learn business lessons without having to commit mistakes themselves. And shows that actually teach while being entertaining are rare these days on television.
The Apprentice [Apprentice 4]
However, while the first season had been a good overall viewing experience, The Apprentice is sadly slowly falling into the trap of other reality shows. Instead of focusing of the core theme of business, the contestants seem to be chosen more and more for their entertainment and drama potential than for their skills and professionalism. Before the third season started, the Donald told us that we would discover candidates who are more relatable. Well, I am sorry, Mr. Trump, but I personally don't relate to idiots.
I understand the concerns about viewership; however, there might be a choice to make. Either the purpose of The Apprentice is to ridicule some ungrounded and dysfunctional leader wannabes in front of a live audience for entertainment value. Or the goal can be finding the very best professionals you possibly can and depict a respectable view of the business world. The first option could become embarrassing for everybody, even for the Trump organization which could possibly end up getting a lousy apprentice as a result. The second option can provide smart entertainment and a way for the audience to look up and lighten up.
By reflecting on the image of business in America, The Apprentice has an impact on the public and the future young entrepreneurs and workers of this country. And the last thing you would want to do is paint a bad image of corporate America.
Education in the United States is falling, and in order to motivate the younger generations, we need educated, reasonable, likable, respectable and smart role models with business ethics who are living examples of being great leaders. The show The Contender has probably done a better job in a new genre in this motivational aspect than TheApprentice 3.
So if I may, Mr. Trump, Mr. Bienstock and Mr. Burnett, here are my requests as a viewer for The Apprentice 4 and The Apprentice 5:
I want to see a real competition of the smartest kids in America and be challenged by it. Please try to engage your audience by providing us with pre-screened contestants who are people who could actually pass the Apprentice interview given to the final four before they are selected to make it into the show. I also want to see more footage of those interviews as well.
The last thing I want to see is drama. If I wanted to watch drama, there are more than enough TV shows for that.
And please don't tell us that your 18 candidates for The Apprentice 3 are "la crème de la crème" out of a million applicants when they were not. While I do appreciate NBC's statement, before the casting of The Apprentice 4, saying that prospective candidates "should be able to take risks, bounce back after failing, succeed in a cutthroat environment, go against the tide, remain focused, think creatively, and be a leader," I sincerely hope that this will be the case for the next season. After all, I am watching Mr. Trump and I expect no less than excellence in every way.
Meanwhile, if anyone reading this article thinks he or she has what it takes to be the Apprentice, I suggest that person becomes entirely sure before deciding to apply, not to waste anyone's time or not to potentially ruin the show for us. And for the casting director who was fooled by Craig and let him into the The Apprentice 3, I have three words for you to say to him, Mr. Trump: You are fired!