Monday, 10 May 2010

Painter's Journey Post

Hello and welcome to another 'Painter's Journey Post', my fortnightly post on the train back from London to Leeds on a Monday morning talking simply about whatever crosses my mind at that particular time!

Today's subject is...Reality Television

Well, ‘The Apprentice’ returns to our screens this week, but not ‘The Apprentice’ we all know and love, this version is to be known as ‘The Junior Apprentice’, slightly different. You may remember towards the end of the last series this version being advertised, asking for ‘budding entrepreneurs between the age of 16 and 17’ to come forward and appear on one of the BBC’s most popular shows.

After the regular Thursday morning chats with my friends about the Wednesday night show and debating whether Sir Alan was right to sack who he did, quite a few people suggested that I should apply for the junior version. I’d never really considered it to be honest, but after some persuasion and a few texts from a few people further afield suggesting that I applied also, I decided that ‘I may as well, what is there to lose?”

I’d never gone for anything like this before so everything was new to me and I didn’t really know what to expect when applying. It turned out that I needed to do a series of application forms, a presentation and a one-to-one interview. I wasn’t going to worry and get worked up about the process of selection (as many clearly did), I simply went with a laid back approach, again asking myself, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ I did, however, put in a lot of effort and made sure I was performing to my full potential giving myself every opportunity to progress. I don’t believe in doing things half heartedly.

Anyway, that’s enough about me; the point of this piece is about the processes involved in producing programmes like this, and my opinions on them. I’m using ‘The Apprentice’ as an example in this case as I have first-hand knowledge of the processes, but I am positive other programmes on our screens are also run in a similar way.

‘The Apprentice’ is a programme that continually brands itself on finding entrepreneurs with potential, budding business bosses and people with a genuine eye for success. I don’t think anyone can deny that. My argument though, is, do they really select the best people to fit these categories? I don’t think so. For a start, the people carrying out the selection process are not Sir Alan Sugar, Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford. They’re not people who work below them. Infact, do they have any business/entrepreneurial knowledge at all? No! The people who make the decisions and decide whether you’re worthy of a place to take part in the actual TV series and be in with a genuine chance of winning ‘The Apprentice’ work for Free Mantle Media, the broadcaster. These people are trained in media and television, not business. How does that one work then?

Now, I’m not saying I should have gotten any further than I did, in honesty I was very surprised and chuffed with how far I did get (the last 120), but it was obvious to see on the day that some young people with real business knowledge and potential, some of which already had a lot of success were turned away. Not at the expense of better candidates, but at the expense of better characters; people who would make more exciting television and tick the box for; male and female balance, ethical balance and background balance. Is this fair? Not really, seems as though the ongoing issues of political correctness have won once again.

I’d like to sum up by saying; I, like many of you really enjoy watching shows such as ‘The Apprentice’ and I will continue to do so, but just be aware when tuning in on Wednesday night that the ten candidates you shall see out of the 25,000 who applied are not necessarily the best young business talent, they’re probably more likely to be naturally gifted characters who have the ability to entertain, along with a little bit of business knowledge on their side too. A little fake I think, but good television none the less.


  1. Yea, to be honest was a little saddened that I was not gunna be watching you Billy, especially when the programme started last night and the contestants were introduced.... That said, you don't need to be on a television show to prove you have the skills to be successful. I like ya cronicle piece(which i love reading by the way) and yr right, political correctness has ruled the line up and always will where reality telly is concerned. Is it fair, NO but thats media for you!!... Its a great opportunity for those that got through and i'm gunna love following their progress in this series, however there are also those talented guys like yourself who were turned away... I say well done to you and all the others for having the gutts to apply in the first place. The experience will stay with you for the rest of your life.... Good on ya Billy!!!! <3

  2. A little over representation of ethnic minorities doesn't do any harm for integration. I don't think that there is anything to complain about - ethnic groups usually are under represented in a lot of society. Indeed some of our institutions are institutionally racist. Good on the BBC for showing some fairness. Less than can be said for Sky.

  3. Yeah, even if some talented people are turned away, I think it's a worthwhile sacrifice for the good that can be done by positive discrimination.

  4. Yes, I too believe that positive discrimination is a good thing. However, if the show is going to advertise itself as having the best candidates, then the best candidates should be selected.