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Why The Apprentice Is Good For AmericaBusiness Commentary by Michael Levine
Donald Trump and executive producer Mark Burnett have a hit on their hands: "The Apprentice." This NBC reality series plays rather like Burnett’s old CBS hit "Survivor"-- except that the contestants split up into teams face the challenges of the business world, rather those of untamed wilderness. If they fail, instead of being "voted off," they are fired by Trump, who brings his years of business experience to bear on the strategies of the newcomers.
Those who noted the silliness of "Survivor"’s various incarnations will note some of the same flair for melodrama here. And Trump’s hairstyle is as shudder-provoking as some of the infamous highlights of "Survivor," like the contestants’ drinking of cow’s blood. Despite all the goofiness, the show’s 20 million viewers also get a lesson in fundamental business principles-- more people, in fact, will draw valuable lessons from the show than from business school. The trappings of popular TV shows like "Survivor" provide a palatable packaging of principles of finance and leadership for the TV-watching masses.
What kind of lessons do viewers learn?
1. Sex sells, of course, and several of the female contestants have learned this rather quickly.
2. Results count; this sounds self-evident, but it takes failures of the sort witnessed on the show for the supreme importance of this idea to really sink in. In the private sector, one bears one’s own costs; and it will be quickly apparent if one’s achievements are inadequate.
Lessons like these are vitally important in a nation like America, since the goal of personal success constitutes a major part of the nation’s history and founding ideals. America is a country of immigrants. Millions of people around the world have dreamed about moving to the United States to achieve the “American Dream”—to start over, work hard and achieve a life of success. The very basic foundation of America comes from the Protestant work ethic brought by Pilgrims in the 16th century. Prosecuted for their religious beliefs, they moved to the New World in search of a better life. In the span of only a
couple hundred years, America underwent a major transformation from being the colony of the British empire whose “sun never sets” to an influential, wealthy nation of its own.
It was American dollars and common sense that have made America rise from its status as a relatively new country. Business has always been the essence and core of America's intrigue to the rest of the world— the means to produce a comfortable living in a land of boundless opportunity, regardless of personal background. Andrew Carnegie, one of the nation’s richest entrepreneurs, was an immigrant from Scotland and started working in a textile mill as a boy in the dawn of the industrial revolution. He later founded US Steel, the largest steelmaker in the nation to this day.
Many like him have done the same and moved up through the ranks to become highly successful. "The Apprentice" gives us one of the foremost modern-day examples: Donald Trump, who got his start in his father’s real estate business and quickly moved up from there. A decade ago, he found himself in huge debt but managed to come back bigger and better than ever before. The unrelenting drive to succeed and to maintain that success especially in times of trouble is now dramatized in his own show.
3. Finally, "The Apprentice" fulfills the vital task of promoting entrepreneurship in women and minorities. Contestants like Amy Henry and the African-American Kwame Jackson provide positive examples with their ambition and intelligence. In these days, when so many college humanities departments teach students, minority or otherwise, to view themselves as victims of capitalism rather than its potential masters, "The Apprentice" provides encouraging and empowering ideas and information for the masses of people on their way to the top. While one can get a more in- depth training at business school, "The Apprentice," whose teams feature "street entrepreneurs" as well as contestants with college educations, demonstrates in an entertaining and accessible fashion that even without technical study, holding the right values can get one far in life.
Copyright 2005 Michael Levine
Michael Levine is the founder of the prominent public relations firm Levine Communications Office, based in Los Angeles. He is the author of Guerrilla PR, 7 Life Lessons from Noah’s Ark: How to Survive a Flood in Your Own Life.
GuerrillaPR.net is a resource for people that want to get famous in the media, without going broke. http://GuerrillaPR.net
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