The truth is out.
Celebrity business TV shows are not helpful to people who actually run businesses.
More than six out of ten respondents in the Better Business Survey felt that the shows (Apprentice, Dragons’ Den etc) were not helpful or inspirational.
Less than one in twenty (that’s less than 5%) claimed that they were very helpful, but a third did believe that they had provided some help and inspiration after viewing them.(Better Business Oct/Nov 2010)
Are we surprised? Of course not.
Most TV business shows are exactly that. They are shows. Like Big Brother or X-Factor they are designed to entertain and attract viewers. They are not designed to, and they do not honestly claim to, replicate reality. They are simply combining the reality show formula (embarrass people stupid enough to want their 15 minutes of fame) with ‘business’ and an exquisite new programming franchise is created.
I do not dispute that the programmes can be great entertainment as we watch the wannabes attempt to impress the celebrities but we get no real insight into the business side of things.
The programmes would be very dull television without some tension and without a few people making utter fools of themselves. So, the TV companies select candidates that will make great television. And that’s exactly what is created: great television.
I squirm when I meet people whose business education comprises of trying to behave like Lord Sugar (“you’re fired” etc) while willingly trying to sell 30% of their business for a paltry sum that they should have been able to get from a decent angel investor.
Meanwhile, the programmes present a distorted view of what it is to run your own business. Few businesses are set up to take on venture capital type funding à la Dragons’ Den; poor, often needy, wannabes are fed like lambs to the slaughter.
Often humiliated - remember the man with the sweaty armpits and the stutter - the candidates believe that the PR from DD will be enough to catapult their business into the stratosphere.
Sometimes it does. But not always.
I openly admit that I watch too much TV and that I will watch most business TV shows but we should recognise them for what they are: good TV with occasional glimpses and insights that may help us make sense of the businesses that we run.
However, for business education or inspiration, the research says that we need to look elsewhere.