Although I found myself unable to sustain my slavish devotion to “The Apprentice” for a second season, I’ll stick with my earlier assessment: “The Apprentice” is, bar none, the best job-training program going.

It’s realistic about success and failure, inculcates the need for toughness, extols the value of raw ambition, and at the same time makes it clear that (a degree of) civility is mandatory for success.  

Kay Hymowitz says all this and more in a brilliant new piece in City Journal. She is impressed that Trump presents capitalism in all its gory glory:

“The jungle Trump is referring to has nothing to do with the Starbucks at 45th and Fifth. Nor, at a time where the city’s murder rate is lower than that of Dallas, does it allude to the mean streets we all know from creations like Taxi Driver and NYPD Blue. No, Trump is talking about the New York jungle that winds its way from Wall Street to the haunts of publishers and editors around the Flatiron district, up through the garment district, around the offices of big midtown law firms and real-estate developers, across Madison Avenue, and into the deal-making home offices of unassuming lofts and walkups all around the city. It is the jungle that is the capital of the global economy, where people, particularly young people like the contestants on The Apprentice, come to compete for their rightful place. The struggle takes resilience; it takes toughness. But it’s not all blood, sweat, and tears. ’If you’re not careful, [New York] will chew you up and spit you out, but if you work hard you can hit it big,’ Trump declares. ’And I mean really big.’”
Feminists have always argued that women in high places will make for a kinder gentler workplace. Oh, yeah. “The Apprentice” makes you want to call the guys the gentler sex. As Hymowitz notes, the behavior of women in the high-stakes competition isn’t always of the highest caliber: 
“Women are in a tricky position in the world of steroid capitalism. They may have an edge when it comes to manners, or what human-resources managers call “people skills.” But unlike men, who have had to keep their combative instincts in check since they were little boys, women have trouble combining aggression with the courtesy owed an opponent. The Apprentice’s women, especially in the second season, give the impression that they’ve been shipped over from the set of Mean Girls. When they lose, the men shake hands, but the women gossip, bicker, cry, and roll their eyes. There’s a big market these days for books with titles like The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women; Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead, But Gutsy Girls Do; Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman; and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. But if The Apprentice is telling it like it is, ambitious young women would be better off spending their spare time reading Miss Manners.”

Feminists often present women in the work place as vulnerable to being hit on by males in the workplace. Yes, there’s certainly an element of truth in that. But ‘The Apprentice’ tells the other side of the story:

“Adding to the women’s problems is their confusion over the role of sex in the testosterone-suffused workplace,” writes Hymowitz–making you think for a split second that she’s going to go feminist on us, but she doesn’t: ‘The women of The Apprentice are almost without exception what men in their less professional moments would call babes, and they know it. Having come of age in the Sex and the City era, they are about as subtle as Heidi Fleiss in the way they use sex to further their ambitions. Their idea of career-wear is blouses with Dolly Parton cleavage and rocker miniskirts. In the early weeks of the first season, the women beat the men in a lemonade-selling contest partly by kissing male customers and offering them their phone numbers. Later on, they build their ad campaign for a private jet company with suggestive pictures of the bulging underside of the plane and the text ’How do you measure up? How do you fit in?’ During the second season, in a desperate ’gimmick’ designed to goose up her team’s flagging candy-bar sales, a promising contestant named Ivana offers to drop her skirt as a bonus for men willing to shell out $20 for the candy. Trump’with his aide-de-camp Carolyn Kepcher, whose Red-state wardrobe and reserved manner serve as an implicit critique of the younger, tacky female apprentices–chastises the women. And when he fires Ivana the skirt-dropper, it is less the dictate of a bully boss than a cautionary lesson for a generation of women-who-would-be-CEO who need to learn the difference between Martha Stewart and Paris Hilton.”

Another thing feminists don’t like to talk about is the sheer, dog-eat-dog stress of making it. Hymowitz says that the women of “The Apprentice” shed some interesting light on this issue:

“That women are having trouble coping with the pressures of steroidal capitalism is also clear from the way stress relief for the second sex has become a big business in its own right. A wide range of New Agey products and services promise relaxation, while also attending to the global competitor’s need for self-control and focus. New York’based Cloud Nine Reflexology, for instance, offers an ancient form of foot massage that ’reduces stress, improves circulation…and may even boost productivity.’ A catalog called ’Alter Your Life: Solutions for Work-Life Balance’ sells “serenity rings” and traveling coffee mugs inscribed ’There Is More to Life than Increasing Its Speed’ or ‘Power.’ The most popular stress-relief technique is yoga, the quintessential leisure activity in an age of steroid capitalism. Yoga relaxes, yes, but it also energizes and teaches concentration and discipline. The website iVillage, targeting women, offers ’15 minute stress buster’ programs, ‘so you can have a yoga class right at your desk.’ There’s one for ’when pressure builds and you need to de-stress’ and another for when ‘you need to refuel and recharge.’”

Can Kay Hymowitz really say all these things? Well, yes, she works for City Journal–she’s not president of Harvard.

Here’s the latest on what’s happening to poor Larry Summers, the attacked-by-feminists/faculty Harvard president who dared to say women may be different from men. Will he live to tell the tale? The prognosis is not good. Should we send him some stress butter?