James Moore: Beware, The Apprentice can be very addictive

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The Independent Online

Outlook: It might seem strange now, but business leaders sometimes used to complain about being excluded from popular culture. It was felt that bright and talented young people shunned their blandishments in favour of the professions because business was seen as, well, a bit grubby and best left in a ghetto.

No longer. Business now regularly occupies the front pages (although rarely for the right reasons) while popular programming abounds.

The trouble is that for every Dragons' Den, which tends to portray entrepreneurs in a favourable light and even elicits viewers' sympathy when they're a bit hopeless, there is an Apprentice. Each year its wannabes seem more fuelled by overdoses of testosterone and bluster than the last. And each year the sense of Schadenfreude as they foul up and are eviscerated in the boardroom gets greater. It's almost, almost worth putting up with some of Lord Sugar's more neanderthal opinions as the publicity machine cranks up (this year he was accusing parents of rearing a generation of lazy youngsters).

It is fairly standard practice now for talking heads to pop up and say that the programme provides a poor representation of business and that the sort of behaviour seen on it is the exact reverse of what it takes to be a success in the real world.

Perhaps. But it doesn't matter. The Apprentice is pure TV heroin. While you might hate yourself for taking it, the programme is almost impossible to give up once it has dug its claws in.