Friday, October 22, 2004

The Apprentice


Everyone goes through television obsessions - mine is The Apprentice, the Donald Trump reality business show. Competing teams are set business tasks, and members of the team dramatically fired in boardroom mock-ups at the end of each show. It is a truly fascinating insight into the high-flying world of business, human nature under competition, and the hard-world reasoning of "The Donald" in his choice every week.

Last night's episode did not fail to please! The teams are initially set up as boys vs girls, with the current teams showing far more team unity amongst the gentlemen, with cattiness and disorder spoiling the ladies' performance.

What does this have to do with philosophy? Everything! Far more than other reality shows where the obstacles are artificial and the prize merely financial, "The Apprentice" contestants are really just competing in life. They have been shown a short-cut into a ritzy lifestyle of power, money and respect. All they have to do to get it is be the last man standing.

Sharp reasoning skills are necessary to succeed in their environment - a skill which few of them appear to have. Team leadership is thrust on each candidate in a rough rotation, quickly exposing the difference between introvert and extrovert, thinker and doer, the accurate and the slapdash. How, one wonders, would I fare?

The temptation put by the show is one I certainly find immensely attractive, more so than the artificially marketed razzamatazz given to our pop idols and major prizewinners. In essence, "The Apprentice" gives the immediate fear of jeopardy to the jobs we all do everyday. Any one of us could simply walk out of our job, go to the bank and lay it on the line. But our lives seem to be a certain comfort, and the fears of bankruptcy and the achievable nature of our modest targets seem to be a better way to live out our life.

The question of what is important in life is central to this show. Is it best to work for financial security, to live out our lives in the pursuit of mediocre success but finding happiness in our social relations? Or is it better to set our life at naught in the Samurai tradition, and live absolutely according to principles of honour, regarding life as not worth living unless lived well? Is it better to fly closer to the sun, or further away? To the contestants of the Apprentice, and those risking it all in entrepreneurial exercise, they have chosen to take up the challenge of risky business. Maybe they are foolish to risk falling so low that they can never again stand up, or maybe they are the ones able to see that the fruits of life taste their best when one has risked all in the pursuit of ones goals.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The operative word being 'risk' ... a really good insight, nice little post about the social fabric in which we live.

I guess everyone has their own personal comfort zone in which to establish themeselves as a contributing member of society.

...But then again, there is no risk in sacrificing if we believe our choices to be right... look at Donald for instance. He was happy to be bankrupt for a period of time until he got back on his feet again.


10/23/2004 02:41:00 AM  

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