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.