Could The Apprentice inspire a new view of business?
18 Nov 2015
I'll admit it; I'm an avid viewer of The Apprentice. I've watched every BBC series and I've even been found perusing Ireland's version and Trump's version (it isn't quite the same without Prokofiev's stirring Romeo and Juliet). But the thing I've realised is that I always watch it with a hope they’ll change the format because actually I'm not really a 'fan' of its fundamentals. Now I know it sounds a bit deep for a one-hour show, but The Apprentice, rightly or wrongly, portrays a view of ‘business’ and how it should be to an audience of millions. Yet rarely does it raise the question of how a product is sourced; what materials it’s made of; what impact it has environmentally or socially.
I would absolutely love to see The Apprentice structure evolving to reflect the changing face of what ‘good business’ really is. A whole segment of society is beginning to see that if your business is destroying a natural resource, and is reliant on continued destruction to maintain a competitive position, you don't have a good business. Equally, if your business is reliant on social standards being, and staying low, with low pay, long hours and poor conditions being central to your profit margin, you don't have a good business.
Many of our major businesses were established with models so removed from a sustainable model that altering the supply chain and way of working will not deliver more profit, in fact it may tighten margins. This prevents the significant change needed, as leaders seek to quantify positive financial gain from any change in operations and cannot. It’s vital we ensure new leaders and new entrepreneurs are thinking about these things at the creation stage.
Media holds such power, let’s utilise it. Imagine a series of The Apprentice that brought candidates, and audiences, into the challenges (and pleasure) of creating a sustainable business. For example, designing a product with a closed resource loop; creating a campaign to drive behavioural change in a group of people or transforming a company’s logistics to reduce carbon emissions.
The skills involved are vastly different and arguably much more impactful for a business leader than some of those skills the current format focuses on. This would highlight the opportunity for innovation, recognition and success whilst taking a totally different approach to business.
In one hour of prime time TV you'd awaken millions to a new image of what constitutes ‘good business’.
Now how do I get in touch with Lord Sugar…