It’s Wednesday evening.
On television tonight is the popular television phenomenon The Apprentice. Instead of watching The Apprentice tonight I sit here to write a blog for you on my own perceptions of the series, in particular, recent episodes. My partner is a big fan of The Apprentice. I, however, can take or leave it. I imagine this is because, as a leadership coach I sit in the real world of business, rather than the cynical media created world of “big business” we see on the BBC. It must be somewhat like the feeling that a real forensic psychologist must have when they sit down to watch the latest episode of any crime drama featuring profiling or forensics. To sum the feeling I have about The Apprentice, it is this. What has this programme got to do with the real world. In particular, what has this to do with the way real business people do business. The old dog eat dog world of heroes and villains is a far cry from the world we all live in where various shades of many different colours including grey often outnumber the black and white. It is also highly unlikely that any business leader is going to put a team together and given a task that is designed to fail. A point beautifully articulated by the woman who was fired 2 or 3 weeks ago on the after show on BBC 2. A woman who was fired for that age old (by The Apprentice’s standards) cliché of being the woman who refuses to engage in male behaviour, and let’s the shoutier people (ergo the people for whom this job means more) speak. There are the wonderfully staged shots of the woman concerned staring into the ether. Edit them with some nice shots of said woman looking at her nails and you have the compelling television verdict, of a woman who is not bothered if she stays or goes. Think also of last week’s comic boardroom scene. Three women in the boardroom scratching each other’s eyes out. Alternatively three women who are fighting for their place in a high pressure competitive job interview, doing exactly what three men would do in their place. But, let’s edit in some nice shots of Lord Sugar and henchman exchanging comic “Bloody women!” looks, join it up with condescending words and attitudes towards the female business psychologist in the room “Yes, I’m sure you are qualified, but we aint going to gell” and you have have the other familiar cliché of the female business shrew laid bare for the nation. I was working with a client today and there was a fire alarm. Our muster point was under the statue of Emmaline Pankhurst. As I stood looking at her statue it struck me how far the movement of equality for women has got, and yet how far back our media is determined to push it. As an addendum to the above, on Thursday evening I received my trusty “Popbitch” email which contained the following view on the recent media shenanigans regarding The X Factor. >> Sex Factor << Raw deal for female judges One thing about the X Factor PR overload that has really started to depress us is the relentless sexism. The underlying story is always the same. Women = window dressing, men = serious. In the US, Nicole Scherzinger and Cheryl Cole were set up in a cat-fight seemingly just to pique interest in the TV show. It’s the same here – Kelly Rowland and Tulisa N’Dubz are pitted against each other for their outfits every day, just like Cheryl v Dannii last year. So while the women are rated on their looks and their dresses, the men – Gary Barlow, Simon Cowell, LA Reid – are rated on their opinions. It’s brilliant to think that women in the mainstream entertainment industry have come so far as to be nothing more than publicity props to be used by rich men, isn’t it?