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The Apprentice – How will you watch it?

October 5, 2010

Whilst very excited about this year's series of The Apprentice starting this week, I have also been giving some thought as to whether this really is just another well packaged game show, that I should just sit back & enjoy purely from an entertainment point of view? Or if I should take it a little more seriously and be open to being informed from a business and marketing perspective?

Firstly, for those of you have no idea what The Apprentice is all about ( where have you been by the way?) the series follows 16 would–be entrepreneurs as they compete to become Lord Alan Sugar’s next apprentice, completing tasks such as business pitches and designing and marketing new products.

Apparently, the first episode follows the candidates as they make and sell sausages on the streets of London, under the scrutiny of Lord Sugar’s advisers Nick Hewitt, and vice chairman of West Ham, Karen Brady. So, here's my dilemma, do I sit back with my cup of tea and and weigh up which characters I like and dislike, whilst listening out for the inevitable sausage innuendo and watching the heavily scripted facial reactions of Nick and Karen, or do I regard the whole thing a little more seriously as a measurable business task?

Of course, every year there's lots of anecdotal criticism about the show format, the contestents and Lord Sugar. And I did read somewhere that the Institute of Directors’ criticised the show for offering little practical advice, saying the programme is "entertaining but not informative." To counteract this,a British Chambers of Commerce spokesman said the programme helped encourage an enterprise culture. “We like the show, and if it arouses an interest in business and encourages more people to become entrepreneurs then that can only be a good thing,”.

You see, I am already starting to think about this sausage task, by breaking the problem down into the old and trusted 4 Marketing P's! "Product, Place, Price, Promotion". What's the quality of the sausage? Where will they try to sell them? How much? How will they advertise them? So that's where the hook is for me! Surely it's all good if it gets you thinking back to basics.

Just as all the in-vogue cookery shows have inspired home cooking using fresh local produce etc; I do think that programmes like The Apprentice, Dragon's Den, Troubleshooter, Back to the Floor etc have a positive effect on the business entrepreneur and marketer.

As a marketer, I especially love the specialist marketing task episode of The Apprentice and cringe every year as the candidate with the marketing background always has a nightmare week, giving the sector a bad name I always feel! Remember all those discussions about Pants Man?! This is all good stuff as at no other time, will the nation ever openly debate the principles of a marketing strategy?

I'm not saying we should get our notepads out, but I do think The Apprentice gives out some good messages and gets us all thinking what we would do or more importantly, what we definitely wouldn't do in each and every task!

If you will be tuning into The Apprentice, I will be very interested to hear how you will watch it?

Posted by Paul Latham
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