As entrepreneur/business TV reality shows, such as Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice, grow in popularity, Waseem Saddique Marketing asks are such shows good or bad for business?
Waseem Saddique comments: “Impressionable, young entrepreneurs/business owners look to the likes of Lord Alan Sugar and the ‘stars’ of Dragons’ Den as a foundation for leadership styles. It’s questionable whether the approach to business adopted by these TV moguls actually represents a true reflection of how business is done.”
In an article, written by Bev James and published in ‘Real Business’, she states: “The issue that I have with business reality shows in terms of leadership and management are most evident in the new generation of entrepreneurs. For example, if someone was to start a business in their fifties, then they would have the experience of working under both good and bad managers.”
She added: “This would have helped them to develop their own management and leadership style. Someone starting a business in their teens, however, has not been exposed to this kind of experience. So, they often look to reality television as the template for management and leadership.”
Despite registering its lowest viewing figures following the series conclusion of the 2013 edition (attracting just, 5.7 million viewers), ‘The Apprentice’ enjoyed excellent viewing figures when launched in 2005.
In the initial, business leaders embraced such reality TV shows, why? Because they recognised that they did inspire individuals to embark on becoming entrepreneurs and transforming their ideas into products or services that would appeal to consumers.
However, as the years progressed and more of these ‘shows’ emerged, the early promise of these programmes dwindled and the opinion of business leaders altered. The general consensus now is that programmes the likes of ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘Dragons’ Den’ depict businesses as entertainment.
Bev James states: “They fail to portray some of the true characteristics of business, such as management, leadership and teamwork, in their true form.”
It’s also been argued that such shows quash the dreams of many entrepreneurs and create the perception that all business leaders adopt the same ruthless style as those ‘starring’ in such shows.
Waseem Saddique states: “Whilst we have to concede that the entrepreneurs who appear on these shows do so voluntarily, it’s not nice to witness young businessmen and women humiliated all in the name of ‘entertainment TV’, this is potentially damaging to the next generation of entrepreneurs and perhaps more worryingly, the future of the UK economy.”
On such shows it’s usually online business ideas that come under intense scrutiny. Dragons’ Den in particular has been notorious for ‘savaging’ entrepreneurs when it comes to some online business models.
Reality TV shows have been criticised for not adopting a ‘mentoring spirit’, but instead using criticism and condemnation as a means of management style, something that has been frowned upon by a number of key UK business leaders.
Waseem Saddique concludes: “What started out as something with so much promise has descended into ‘entertainment’. Such shows initially existed to open the door to a variety of entrepreneurs to allow them to succeed in business. Then somewhere such shows lost their way, producing something that does not represent true business, but represents distasteful entertainment.”