As a reality TV show, it has all the right ingredients to make compulsive viewing – hopefuls, competition, humour and as I have since found out when one of my children recently gained a job in the City, the hoops contestants have to jump through to get a job aren’t as far fetched as you might imagine. These days the top jobs do involve Apprentice-style interviews, presentations in front of a formidable bunch of judges and challenging (and some might say somewhat ridiculous) tests.
Then with the Apprentice comes the psychology of the group – how they all rub along, who falls out with who, who blossoms and who finds the going gets too tough.
But have I ever thought there was a ‘real job’ with Lord Alan Sugar at the end of The Apprentice? Although there is – the winner does go to work for Lord Sugar – as far as I can remember apart from the £100,000per annum salary I’ve never heard of a job description as such. Thus I’ve always believed that going on The Apprentice was to be seen as a stepping stone to becoming ‘famous’ or getting your name out there, rather than actually getting a job.
After all, if you want a serious job, you do serious job hunting. You don’t automatically think, “I know, I’ll apply to go on reality television…”
Which was why when I found out Stella English, winner of the 2010 series, was taking Lord Sugar to a tribunal claiming constructive dismissal, I was amazed.
Stella claimed there wasn’t really a job and that she was an ‘overpaid lackey’ in her £100,000 post at Lord Sugar’s IT firm Viglen. She complained she only saw Lord Sugar fives times during her 13 months there – and that she was given a desk and a phone and told to carry out basic administrative tasks. She was then offered another role in a different company, YouView, that Lord Sugar owned, but the situation was the same. She ended up resigning.
She added that Lord Sugar only did The Apprentice for PR and did not give a ‘sh*t’ about her.
However, she has now lost her claim with Lord Sugar tweeting that it is a ‘victory for the law against the claim culture.’
We would say it is also a victory for reality TV. After all there was a post and it did pay the salary advertised. And as with any other position – it is surely up to the individual to make that job work for them. Most jobs these days have a probationary period when despite the rigorous selection procedure, the candidate is still expected to prove their worth. Presumably working for Lord Sugar could prove a good stepping stone for someone’s career. Certainly as a publicist, I would advise any contestant to build on the fame they have gained from going on the show.
Meanwhile, the ninth series of The Apprentice is reportedly due to be broadcast at the end of May. We doubt this publicity will have any negative effect on the viewing figures. As regards to Stella English and her tribunal claim – whether or not that will have any negative effect on her future career remains to be seen.