“Weak people in business are a waste of space”

Boxing workers

“Weak people in business are a waste of space.” “I’m cold, hard and unstoppable.”

When I saw the latest trailers on the BBC for The Apprentice, with these macho, posturing quotes, I found my skin growing clammy. I know it’s popular and makes good television, with its sharp-dressed contestants and all their dramas and rivalry, but I’ve grown to loathe everything it stands for.

It’s all so tired, so 1950s and as far removed from most businesses I work with as the moon landings. The Apprentice portrays business as a series of win-lose deals, where you have to be an aggressive, win-at-all-costs transactional salesperson. Oh dear. Has no-one told Lord Sugar that in 2011 business is based on networks, relationships and consultative selling? Anyone who acts in the way most of these contestants are encouraged to act in the real world would be found out, tweeted about and marginalised very quickly.

I’m not naive; I know The Apprentice makes great TV. But what worries me is that the young people around me who aren’t yet in business honestly think that this is how you have to behave to succeed. I could cry … but according to TV’s Alan Sugar that would make me weak and a failure. Pity he doesn’t make connections with businesses built by decent people driving dynamic success for their customers and themselves in a positive way.

Is it just me? Is it just the UK or is the US Apprentice the same?

What do you think?