Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 10 November 2009

The Apprentice USA - well, just wow!

I like to watch the British version of this show, with Sir Alan Sugar in charge, but the original show from the US, with Donald Trump, is I think marginally better. There's a ruthlessness and a can-do spirit in American business which is starker than even Sir Alan and his potential candidates often manage to achieve.

What we're watching in the UK just now is actually the 4th series of the US version, which was aired in the US 4 years ago. I'm pretty sure it hasn't been aired here before on terrestrial television, although it may have been shown before on satellite here, for all I know, because of course we've been having the British version instead.

Donald Trump is a fascinating character. Crass, vulgar - and very successful; and of course he has his golf course project underway in Aberdeenshire, so his name seems never to be out of the news (in Scotland, at least). The American candidates, even when they have no idea what they are talking about, can 'talk the talk' with business school jargon flowing easily, but it all boils down to whether they can 'walk the walk' and perform either in creativity or in sheer revenue-generating ability. The two shows tonight (episodes 5 and 6) showed both these business elements - and there really was no doubt about the result of either show, although the result of episode 6 produced a 'shocker' in the boardroom!

Episode 5 ('Lost in Space') involved producing a parade float to publicise a soon-to-be-released movie. Trump had started this series off a few weeks ago by having one team of 9 women ('Capital Edge') and one of 9 men ('Team Excel') and for the last few episodes the women have been losing, seemingly because of friction within the team fouling up their ability to achieve success - and their numbers had therefore become somewhat depleted. So before this episode got underway he let the women choose one of the men to join them and they chose Randal, an African-American from Philadelphia and the eventual winner of the series. The women's team lost handily, because they hadn't fulfilled the brief and the Sony studio people much preferred what the men's team had done. Randal seemed to work well with the women's team, though, and offered a pretty good analysis of where they were going wrong.

On to Episode 6 ('Take Me Out to the Boardroom'); this involved producing an 'event' in a sporting goods store to see which team could increase sales in their chosen area by the biggest percentage. For this epsiode he got the team leader of the women's team to choose 3 women to go across to the men's team, the 3 women she most wanted to lose. Then he got the team-leader of the men's team to choose the 3 men he most wanted to lose to transfer to join the women's team. Basically the notional women's team (now of course with 4 men in it) won because they increased sales by a huge 74 per cent, with most of the women and the men in the team coming up to the plate and achieving good results. Similarly the notional men's team now of course had 3 women in their number, but in my view the real reason they fouled up was because the team leader allowed one of the men to take over and dominate their effort because he had a favourite sport and he and the rest of the team forgot the object wasn't to show off at the sport or to teach kids to play it, but to push product sales!

Now the shocks started - and illustrated why Trump has been so successful. Trump overrode the right of the losing team leader to choose whom to bring back into the boardroom. Instead he told 2 of the women and 1 of the men (the one who was exempt from the previous episode) to go straight back to the penthouse apartment, as all were thought to have performed well by the whole team. Trump wanted 4 back in the boardroom - the male team leader, 2 men and 1 woman. After an acrimonious boardroom scene, which descended into all 4 bickering and shouting across each other, Trump then fired all four! Undoubtedly the correct decision, although the male team leader and the woman stood out for being in their different ways completely hopeless - he ineffective at managing the team, she not living up to her own estimation that she was a killer salesperson. The other 2 men lost sight of the objective being to sell, sell, sell. Definitely one of the best episodes I've seen, from either the US or British series of the programme; it's just a pity that it has been shunted off to such a graveyard time-slot, particularly the 2nd episode each week.

Beyond this, I'm wondering if the reason the BBC is showing Trump again is because they are dropping/shelving Sir Alan Sugar until after the next general election because of his involvement with the Labour Party as a so-called 'business czar'. Whatever the reason, I'm certainly glad to have the opportunity to see more of 'The Donald', because whether you love or loathe the man he does make a good television personality and his business acumen and judgement aren't in doubt, as was certainly in evidence tonight.


  1. Yes but what about that hairstyle, Bill?

  2. LOL - and have you ever noticed just how small his mouth seems in relation to his face? Or his semi-megalomaniacal naming of everything he owns as 'Trump this' or 'Trump that'? He could[n't] care less, I expect, what others think.


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