We keep getting told that we must look to small businesses to bale us out of the swamp in which we find ourselves.
We can’t look to the state, big business is broken – our only hope of salvation is people who have a bright idea and are prepared to work hard to make it happen, creating jobs and prosperity along the way.
Put to one side the lingering suspicion that the only new businesses opening up on our High Streets are nail bars, coffee shops and cheap loan merchants – everyone agrees that we need bright business brains to save our bacon.
And what example do we offer to young people hoping to stand on their own two feet rather than bag a job for life with some giant concern that will put food on their table for their entire working life? The Apprentice. Oh, come on.
I’ll accept that being required to jump through hoops by a rude no-nothing dinosaur who keeps banging on about his successes back in the day is an unhappy fact of life in many workplaces, and it’s good to know that and to be prepared for it.
But my big issue with The Apprentice is not with Lord Sugar but everyone else who wants to be on it.
Let’s be honest, none of these self-obsessed, over-styled suits on legs has any interest in being an apprentice, learning a job from the ground up over a period of years and probably earning a pittance for the privilege.
The programme should really be called something like The Management Trainee – not as sharp a title, but more accurate. Management trainees, in my wide experience, are never at the top of my list of people I would allow to make me a cup of tea, in the unlikely event of them offering to put the kettle on.
These people don’t want to do the graft, no matter what they say in their posturing self-publicity.
They’re looking for a short cut to the stars, and despite all the evidence to the contrary they’re willing to take the risk of humiliation in front of millions of viewers or, perhaps worse, having to work for the peevish peer after winning the thing, on the million-to-one chance that they will turn 15 minutes of fame into something more lucrative.
Let’s be honest, if the contestants chosen to compete in this car crash actually had much about them as business leaders, they’d be far too busy to devote weeks of their time to diverting the nation.
Once it used to those who could, did while those who couldn’t, taught.
Now those who can’t are more likely to be seen preening on the small screen, telling everyone how marvellous they are while demonstrating all too clearly that they shouldn’t really be trusted with sharp objects. Budding business moguls, do watch The Apprentice – and do exactly the opposite to anything these muppets may advise.