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Apprentice-watchers pray Woody Allen was wrong

5th May 2005
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The New York film-maker Woody Allen once made the observation that "life imitates bad television." The business world ought to start praying that such a dictum doesn't apply to the awful but (so people say) gripping series, "The Apprentice."

I'll confess that I hate catch-phrases as readily as I forget them. I've also heard that the one thing most likely to drive actors to the contemplation of suicide is being forced by passers-by in the street to repeat the inane combination of two, three, or four words that propelled them to soap stardom in the first place. There are known examples of this. But I've forgotten them.

Alan Sugar, of course, was not propelled to fame by a catch-phrase; nonetheless, he was been given one, no doubt by some rookie TV producer who cunningly came up with "You're fired."

It wasn't it seems, the sheer ghastly inanity of the phrase that has upset some correspondents of AccountingWEB, so much as the fact that "in today's world", not even in the deepest, darkest and most archaic widget factory in England, everybody is far too touchy-feely and terrified of employment tribunals to get straight to the point in so unequivocal a manner.

Hence the following from "employment law specialists" ELAS: "In the real world, few of today's company bosses would even dare think about sacking an employee on the spot'It might look good on TV but a lot has changed since Sir Alan's day.'

Well yes, but of course, it is television. And almost by definition, so-called "reality TV" is more surreal than any other kind.

One of most unsettling aspects of the whole program, I found, corny catch-phrases, self-important tantrums, and bad suits excluded, has been that (an admittedly nice lad who loves his mum) should be given a £100,000 salary on the grounds that despite an absence of experience, he has potential, and didn't get lippy when the others did.

I am entertaining, I confess, a delicious portend of doom. If Woody Allen is right (and let's face it, he's right about sex, anti-Semitism, psychoanalysis and practically everything else), The Apprentice could precipitate a wave of unintended and disastrous consequences. Bosses will revert to arcane HR practices, Alan Sugar will be stopped in the street by people who will, in effect, be asking him to sack them. And wage inflation will shoot through the roof.

Tom Blass


Replies (7)

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By philh88
17th May 2005 21:32

Interesting TV
I too found The Apprentice intriguing. Having watched the American version also, it was interesting to see the differences between the two sets of candidates (in my book, the Americans were stronger and hungrier.) It would be nice to have a follow up programme showing what all the candidates were doing now, and what exactly is the winners job - VP of eMailer Plus, shipped out to an office in China or something?

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By AnonymousUser
10th May 2005 13:30

Correct grammar would be nice, even on T.V.
I would like to point out that the phrase is not "Your fired," but "You're fired." The latter is an abbreviation for "you are," therefore this is the correct expression. The former refers to something which belongs to you i.e. your accounting practices.

Angela Walker

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By Richard Willis
06th May 2005 20:41

Sir Alan didn't like it either!
Although the series 'The Apprentice' was originally an American show, I gather that it was conceived by an ex-pat Englishman! Sir Alan was interviewed on the radio part way into the series, and he made it clear that he wasn't at all keen on his new catchphrase. It was, he said, a contractual obligation of the American owners that this had to be used at all 'sackings'. As an inveterate people watcher, I found the whole thing fascinating. Like many, I couldn't work out how Saira managed to stay untill the final; I would have sacked her on day one just to get a bit if peace.

Sir Alan was also quoted as saying that he considered that four, I think, of the contestants should never have been there in the first place but that he had no say in the matter.

Of course the interesting thing will be to see if Tim is still with Sir Alan in six months or a year's time.

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By carnmores
06th May 2005 18:41

Not so Chris
even candidates have rights now a days which must be respected..

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By colinhigginson
06th May 2005 11:31

Who would you have gone for then?
I must admit I enjoyed this series in parts - although every week I cringed at how Alan Sugar's chair was jacked up so he appeared to loom above everyone else when sat down. For goodness sake, you could see his knees were touching the board room table.

I was amazed that Siara got to the final. Sure she could sell, but she spoke v e r y s l o w l y to people as if they were idiots.
She had no inter-personal skills so I was watching really in frustration at how far she got.

The fact was that the show was called The Apprentice and that was what Tim was - some of the others had years of experience so they should obviously have fallen by the wayside. the salary was irrelevant - that was more a prize for winning a reality TV series than a true salary.

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By wfewtrell
06th May 2005 13:13

As many people probably know "The Apprectice" was not a UK idea but came over from the States where the "Boss" was Donald Trump and the catchphrase was invented by him and picked up by the UK producers as it caused such a reaction over there.

I doubt very much that the UK TV producers sat down and thought during a planning meeting for the show "What are the potential areas of UK employment law that we could be encouraging the contrevention of?"

It's an interesting point though!

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06th May 2005 13:09

Who would want to work for him anyhow
I cannot understand anybody wanting to work for Alan Sugar in the first place. The winner should have been the one who got away!!

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