Is The Apprentice really great for business?

It’s a great show and a great format but is it great for business? Is it great for role models? I sometimes wonder – and as it seems judging by my twitter following, so do many of you.
Let’s look at the business case through a quick SWOT analysis.
Strengths – Well the format and time slot are a hit, as is the after show, ‘You’re fired’. I am actually a bigger fan of this and nearly appeared on it but was ‘fired’ at the last minute – I’m not bitter!
Coming back to the main show, Lord Alan reigns supreme in his office which seems to be adjoined to a huge shower cubicle of frosted glass. And of course, his judges are brilliant; Nick grimaces for all of us and Karren’s despair at the bickering girls (which inevitably happens) is always a high spot for me. 
Weaknesses – Let’s be honest, these are the contestants on the whole. ‘Britain’s brightest business hopes.” A shudder runs down the spine every time this nonsense is spouted. Britain’s latest batch of wannabee TV presenters and future ‘inspirational speakers’ and ‘Business consultants’ more likely. 
But perhaps a major weakness of the show that seems to annoy many is that it is simply ‘not realistic’ enough. Other than many of the tasks being focused on sales, it’s not at all realistic to creating and running your own business – it’s not a documentary, after all – it’s a competition. It could be described as a business knockout with the occasional costume (Pants Man anyone?).  And a stern Lord Sugar instead of a hysterical Stuart Hall. 
Opportunities – I think we know that the only opportunities are the ones the ‘Apprentices’ have in their head when they enter the show. 
You see people who really want to succeed in business but don’t want to ‘do TV’. Personally, I would prefer it the other way round, to see more people who have succeeded in business ‘do TV’ – because these are the ones we can all learn from and the ones who will truly inspire the next generations of Lord Alans to go out there and make a difference.
Threats – The format – is it a case of ‘You’re tired’?  Are we a bit bored of the candidates and their incompetence and back biting?  Perhaps this is the reason for the recent change to this series; no longer is the glittering prize a desk in a corner office of Lord Alan’s empire with your own Amstrad video-phone, but now Lord Alan will invest money (his or the Beebs?) in the winner. I also wonder whether it will actually be a cash investment or more likely ‘resources to the value of’…. 
But I digress. Lord Alan is obviously fed up of fools coming into his business, not making a difference, then sodding off in the first year to become a business guru/motivational speaker/TV presenter (delete as applicable.)
My pet hate about The Apprentice is nothing to do with the show or its winner (well, they say winner but really it’s the would-be loser except they ran out of tasks and other contestants). It’s that when I sit in audiences at business events and come across these ex-apprentices, I know I am not alone when I think ‘All you succeeded in doing was fail a 12 week job interview in front of millions.”
So unless they are on stage talking about that experience – and if they were I wouldn’t waste my time listening frankly – then why are they on stage, trying to pass on knowledge and experience , to those who need help and motivation, when clearly they do not have that wisdom to pass on?
I realise this is as much the fault of the event organisers who need speakers (usually free) and the fact that every sacked apprentice will build a website which markets them as a consultant or speaker – as now they are totally unemployable.
Having said that, I think anyone in the world of business enjoys sitting down on a Wednesday night to enjoy the bitching and moaning (and resulting twitter conversations) that flow when watching this great series.
Hopefully anyone considering starting a business or a life as an entrepreneur will watch and take it all with a pinch of salt. They will not, I hope, aspire to be on The Apprentice but use it as an inspiration to think ‘do you know what I could do that’ but by that I don’t mean get on a TV programme.
Ah well, we have always got Dragons’ Den… don’t get me started.
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