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LAce Posted Monday, April 26th, 2004
Finally: Reality T.V. for Me
Brent Hickman

I have a confession to make: I am an occasional reality-TV addict. Not all reality-TV, but every few months a new show will come along and have me totally and helplessly hooked until its conclusion. My addiction started with the relatively innocuous Survivor: Outback, kicked up a few notches on the ‘embarrassed to discuss this in public scale’ with Joe Millionaire, and kept going strong with the Clay Aiken – Ruben Studdard showdown on American Idol (for the record, I was a Ruben man).

But the problem with these reality shows is that for me, they did not represent any kind of reality that I knew. I have never been stranded in Outback Australia and required to eat bugs to earn so-called immunity. I have never had 20 women wanting to marry me because of my supposed riches. And I would probably make that William Hung guy look pretty good were I to go on American Idol.

Then came ‘The Apprentice’. If you have never watched ‘The Apprentice’, the premise is that Donald Trump is looking to hire someone to be a president of one of his companies. 16 people are brought in for a 13-week long job ‘interview’ in which they are assigned to do tasks designed to show how successful they would be on the job. Each week, one member of the losing team is kicked off with a decisive “You’re Fired”. There are also lots of gratuitous shots of The Donald’s plane, helicopter, yacht, golf course, European model girlfriend, and ridiculously decorated apartment – but that’s just reality show filler.

I was hooked on the Apprentice within the first five minutes of the first episode. It is engrossing television, but there was something different about this reality show – I could actually relate to it! I felt like I had actually lived this show. You see, I am an MBA student. For the last two years, I have attended business school full time. And I have loved business school – it has been a great experience where I have learned a lot, made some great friends, and gotten an exciting new job. Business school has also been at times annoying, frustrating, and just humorously bad. Interestingly, ‘The Apprentice’ can be described in much the same way.

Let’s examine some of the more the interesting similarities between ‘The Apprentice’ and business school:

  1. Contestants and students must kiss ass to get jobs

    • Apprentice-Style: Troy and Sam repeatedly tell Donald Trump how they have read his books and that Trump is an idol to them. It seems to work as Trump takes a liking to these two.

  2. Business School Style: I actually found myself saying almost this exact line in a job interview last year: “the home pest control industry has some really fascinating challenges, and I would love to work on those challenges”. Fortunately, this line did not work.

  3. Over-citation of Past Work Experience

    • Apprentice-Style: Contestants constantly try to make themselves appear more credible by referencing past work experiences such as selling copiers, or being a real estate agent.
    • Business School Style: A guy in my class earned the nickname ‘Johnny Taco’ for prefacing each and every one of his comments in class with “Well, back when I worked for Taco Bell, we…”

  4. Both contestants and students must complete lame group projects

    • Apprentice-Style: In order to simulate running a business, contestants make homemade clothes (sorry…no paint pens were involved) and try to sell them at a flea market.
    • Business School Style: In order to simulate potentially working in a ‘virtual team’ someday, our team had to write a 10 page paper using exclusively electronic communication (we could never speak directly to each other or on the phone), despite the fact that we sat next to each other for four hours a day and lived across the hall from one another.

  5. Pretty girls get ahead

    • Apprentice-Style: The women on the show won the first four tasks, mainly by wearing short skirts and low cut shirts.
    • Business School Style: Women generally have an easier time finding jobs than men. And then, there is the social scene, where for every one single MBA woman, she has the selection of probably 25 single, balding MBA men who like to discuss their future plans for trading fixed-income securities (perhaps ‘getting ahead’ is a bit misleading…).

Despite some of these shortcomings, I will greatly miss both ‘The Apprentice’ and my business school experience. But I hope that there is one more similarity between the two: let’s hope that the tall, somewhat goofy-looking, but relatively normal guy comes out on top after business school – just like on ‘The Apprentice’.

Related Links:

  • The Apprentice

    Comments [post a comment]

    Posted by Laura Bauers on Tuesday, April 27th, 2004 at 11:08 AM
    Although i have never been to business school i can say that they get the best new buildings on campus a la the donald, university style, sans gold. even so i too was severely addicted to the apprentice, mostly out of pure loathing for omarosa. brent, i think you should abandon your new job and new house to devote three months to being donald trump's bitch. you could be the next sam.

    Posted by Mary Bauers on Tuesday, April 27th, 2004 at 9:21 PM
    Bravo! Maybe we should just do away with grad school entirely and just put MBA wanna-bes through a season of the Apprentice to develop their cut throat business skills! You're amazing!

    Posted by Jerry Bauers on Tuesday, April 27th, 2004 at 11:15 PM
    Having been alerted to this article not only by Salome but by the autuer's shameless promoter, I find the comparisons far too, as a business 'executive,' I'm wondering where those prospective kiss ass employees are? However, while it seems far fetched, the autuer may want to try short skirts and shameless is, after all, the new Millenium!!

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