The Apprentice: I demand a recount!

I accept that it’s a bit jejune to get worked up about Reality TV, but last night’s Apprentice took the biscuit.

Now, bear in mind that I only watched the last two episodes, so I’m not basing this on all the evidence, but in business, as the cliché goes, you’re only as good as your last job/performance/trade/idea/etc., so I think that gives me the right to comment. (Well, that and the fact that, as a blogger, I’m clearly a narcissist.)

So we had Simon versus Kristina. And I’ll put my cards on the table, I really thought Kristina should have won. If this is a meritocracy, the winner should have been chosen on merit, and, in my opinion, all the merit belonged to her. We saw her give a confident performance in the interview, in which they made no successful attempt to impeach her. By contrast, we saw Simon fail-to-look-the-interviewer-in-the-eyes as his litany of misdeeds as a landlord were reeled off (there is a special place in hell…), and his supposed advantage was that he knew so much about the company and Alan Sugar himself. So he read the company profile, and practically quoted it verbatim, in the form, “I know . I know .” Perhaps he thought that if he repeated “I know” over and over, this would be proof of his intelligence, but any fool can repeat a list of facts. In fact, even a computer can do it: someone clearly taught the Amstrad web server, so it can’t be that hard.
So his two advantages, coming into the last round were intelligence and class: quite literally, “He went to a good school; he went to a good university.” (Disclosure: I work for the university in question.) Allow me to advance a theory. He went to a good public school because his father is a multi-millionaire [1] [2]. He was disproportionately likely to go to Cambridge because he went to a public school [3].

All of which sounds like so much armchair socialism and inverse snobbery. But it’s not. If you come from a well-off background, or, for whatever reason, attend an independent school or an elite university, then I wish you no harm. But if you use any of these facts alone as an a priori reason to employ someone then you fully deserve society’s wrath. It’s not where you came from or where you went that should matter in this world; it’s who you are and what you can do.

But should that be the deciding factor in the cut-throat world of business? Perhaps not. By all accounts, in the final episode, Simon delivered an excellent presentation (although this was hardly clear from the programme; and let’s not forget that life was imitating art when the building he presented looked like (not one but) three semi-erect penises), and his charm well-spokenness was an asset when dealing with customers. I would ask you, though, what use is it to be well-spoken, if one has to be told what to say?

Which brings me to my punchline. When was the last time we saw a “nice”, “charming” guy, who came from a distinguished background and went to a good university, chosen in a major contest?
Oh yeah. Never mind.

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