This Sunday sees the final of the tenth series of the BBC's Apprentice.
When the show first kicked off a decade ago, it was great to see a reality TV show about business and entrepreneurship brought to the masses. However, despite the show having evolved from Lord Sugar's search for an apprentice to his search for an entrepreneurial business partner, it is still stuck in the dark ages. As popular and entertaining as it is, the show now perpetuates out-dated ideas of what makes good business people and what investors look for in startup founders.
As the co-founder of a startup platform that connects top talent with job opportunities at some of Europe's most exciting startups, this worries me as I believe that shows like The Apprentice are putting people off working in startups, particularly young people.
Phrases such as "Everything I touch turns to gold", "My first word wasn't mummy, it was money," and "I am the reflection of perfection" shows how The Apprentice portrays entrepreneurs as selfish, arrogant and clueless. The show suggests that the only way to succeed in business is to be an alpha male, sales obsessed and not averse to trampling on team mates to get to the top.
In modern day business - particularly in startups - this couldn't be further from the truth. Entrepreneurs, in the context of startups, are generally defined as people who see a problem and develop an innovative way to solve it through business. They then build a team of people around them who share that vision to help them get there. Therefore, startup entrepreneurs are typically inclusive, collaborative, team players, and have a variety of skills beyond just selling. They very rarely sport an Oxford tie and bluetooth headset ready for a bloodbath in a stuffy boardroom!
We recently undertook some research amongst over 1,000 employees in corporate companies, which found that 86 per cent would prefer a role in a startup where they would feel more valued and 65 per cent said working in a startup would be their dream job.
The startup industry itself is growing rapidly so there are lots of opportunities for people to find a job that really excites them. Investment in startups was at its highest since 2008 point last year and more companies went public in the first quarter of this year than any year in the last eight years. Meanwhile, startups going on to sell up have been worth more year upon year, and if you add up what they're all worth, it's the largest total since 2007.
It is great that people are recognising the benefits that go alongside working in a startup. However, we can't let shows like The Apprentice give startup entrepreneurs a bad name.
That is why we have taken it upon ourselves to start a campaign to reinvent The Apprentice to bring it into the 21st Century. #losethesuits, backed by startup entrepreneurs and tech companies is calling for ideas on how The Apprentice could be reinvented in series 11 so that the show can reflect the philosophies of modern day business, particularly with regards to startups.