Unexpectedly Intriguing!
March 17, 2005

It may just be the sheer proliferation of the so-called "reality" or "unscripted" television shows among today's entertainment choices, but I have become rather taken with the display of business sense and sensibilities delivered straight from Trump Tower each week known as "The Apprentice." For me, it's not so much the "Survivor" aspect of the show, or its "human" drama (where do they get these people anyway?), or the display of ego, unfettered brand marketing (Trump this, Trump that, Trump etc.) or pervasive product placements (Yahoo! HotJobs anyone?), as much as its the "what-if" nature of the business task undertaken each week by the Apprentici (although those seeking to place each episode into its proper cultural context should turn to the Arizona Republic's Suzanne Condie Lambert's wrap-up for each week's episode. Essential reading!)

Take the task of the very first episode of the series into consideration. What if you had to sell lemonade in New York City? Where would you set up your lemonade stand? How much would you charge? Where would you get your lemonade? How long would it take you to change things if business wasn't going well, and what would you change? I admit I'm more of a business junkie than most, but I find the expanding series of questions that arise from the business task in each episode fascinating. Then again, I know I'm probably not alone in finding a show interesting based on my real-world interests - there is at least one guy out there who watches HBO's "Deadwood" for the economics!

Calvin Coolidge's most famous observation is that "the chief business of the American people is business." And he was right - we see this fact reflected each week in "The Apprentice," as we can visualize ourselves in the selected business situations depicted in each episode. At least, that is, until Martha Stewart begins handing out the tasks, in which case all bets may be off....

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