By Claire West
The Apprentice presents a completely false depiction of the business world and encourages its candidates to be “morally bankrupt”, a management expert has argued.
Professor Martin Parker, a leading authority on business organisation and culture at the University of Leicester’s School of Management, has issued a challenge to Lord Alan Sugar to explain how the “sociopathic” behaviour shown by candidates in the reality TV show would be useful in business.
Professor Parker said: “The Apprentice presents the idea that you have to be sociopathic in your relations with others in order to succeed in business.
“This is evident in the kind of things the candidates say about themselves. Apparently, you have to say things like ‘I would sell my own grandmother for a bag of chips’ in order to do well in business. It actually encourages people to behave in ways that are morally bankrupt and reprehensible.
“The show puts across a presentation of self which is about an arrogance and self belief — which I feel is personally damaging to those taking part. Either they really believe these things they are saying about themselves, or they think this is how they are supposed to act because they see it on television.”
Professor Parker was also critical of Lord Sugar’s TV persona.
“Alan Sugar comes across as a Victorian melodrama version of a chief executive,” he said. “I don’t for a second think that he could have got to where he is by acting like this.
“I would like Alan Sugar to explain just how the behaviour he expects of his candidates is useful in the business that he runs.”
The academic is also concerned that the show may be adversely affecting students’ impressions and expectations of the business world.
“The Apprentice may be affecting the expectations of undergraduates in terms of how they are supposed to behave once they are in the world of work,” added Professor Parker. “The values presented in the show are precisely not the message we want to be sending out to our students. The business education offered by Leicester School of Management is about ethics, diversity and responsibility — not bullying, one-upmanship and backstabbing.”