Apprentice fever has spread to the Business section of the Washington Post. A front-page symposium there yesterday (“Rating TV’s Apprentice“) was sharply at odds with just about everything the Other Charlotte and I have been blogging about this amazing show starring folks who’re so damned determined to work for Donald Trump that they’re willing to risk humiliation on TV.
It’s fair to say that one of the many reasons TOC and I are glued to the tube on Apprentice night is quite simply that the show is totally lacking in political correctness. As everybody with an office water cooler knows, the women’s team beat the men’s team badly for the first few installments. Their not-so-secret weapon: sex appeal. A Slate article cited by TOC was amusingly headlined “Breast for Success.” As Charlotte noted, the feminine tactics displayed on the Apprentice have proven infuriating to “doctrinaire feminists.”
After a “corporate reshuffling” introduced coed teams, the women continued to act like women, indulging in something else our fair sex seems to find natural’verbal nastiness, stirred into the pot with just a soupcon of vicious betrayal. In other words, the show has been a feminist nightmare from start to oh just about mid-point.
But a job counselor used the Apprentice to show what succeeds in the workplace. The counselor noted that the optimism and refusal to be afraid of failure by the leader, Bill, contributed to the first victory of a coed team.
While I have begged President Bush to require out of work Americans to watch The Apprentice’so much cheaper than that form of paid vacation known as the federal jobs program’for job tips, the participants in the Post symposium uniformly took a dim view of the show. Even anti-tax guru Grover Norquist joked that the apprentices were so repellent that they made him want to raise their taxes!
But most of the commentary in the WaPo indicated that the Apprentice offends for the very reason TOC and I are addicted: It’s not politically correct. “Now, I think we were all entertained [by a Post screening of episode 2],” Clifford Alexander Jr., president, Alexander & Associates, former secretary of the Army and former chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, intones, “but wouldn’t it have been nice if there had somehow been a sensible discussion of color, of men and women in the work place?”
What show was he watching? There is an ongoing discussion of race on every installment. It is to be seen in Omarosa’s chip on her shoulder. But Mr. Alexander probably meant sensitivity training. “[The participants] live in a world where a quarter of their jobs would be outsourced to India and China within the next five to ten years,” avers Raul Fernandez, chairman of OpticVideo and part owner of the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards. “So that’s a reality that some of them live in.” Actually, they aren’t competing for the sorts of jobs that go to India, but why miss an opportunity to comment on the Bush economy?
The Apprentice, for all it’s bad taste (you know they’ll spend their tax cuts on something tacky’Grover’s right about that!), exudes a kind of optimism and appreciation for capitalism that endears the show to me. Not so, however, for Paul Villella, founder and chief executive of HireStrategy: “There’s a group of people whose lifestyle has changed dramatically since 2000,” he says. “If you look at the people who graduated from, say, the top 20 business schools’in 2001 [there were] no jobs. I don’t mean not many. I mean zero.” Zero? Really? Not one graduate got a job? I don’t believe it. Even as the bread lines form in the liberal imagination, I’ll bet a few biz school grads aren’t on the streets.
The Apprentice‘a song to ambition, bitchiness, and a whole hodgepodge of other virtues and vices that help you succeed in business, if you really try. The Apprentice is hands down the most politically incorrect show on TV. That’s why it’s the best show on TV right now.