Friday, February 18, 2005


I caught the British version of The Apprentice on BBC2 last night. If you've seen the US show, or been around a television for the last couple of years, you know the premise: successful tycoon puts would-be entrepreneurs through an absurd and elaborate job interview process during which contestants are eliminated, or "fired", on a weekly basis. The US version has Donald Trump as taskmaster and firer, and the result is pretty entertaining television. (Understand that the program is more of a game show than reality TV.) The UK version has a chap named Sir Alan Sugar, who apparently is reasonably well known in these parts. Sir Alan is a curmudgeonly tycoon who has lifted himself up from the bootstraps, emerging from a background of relative poverty in East London into the life of one of the country's top businessmen. It seems he's made a pretty good amount of money from a computer company, and gained notoriety as a part owner of Tottenham Hotspur F.C., but he's a bit more under the public's radar than The Donald.

Watching the show got me to thinking: if Canadian television came up with a domestic version of The Apprentice, who would our Donald Trump/Alan Sugar be? I've got a couple of candidates:

-Ted Rogers, cable tycoon. Has got to be one of the richest guys in the country.
-Conrad Black, media. Hugely controversial -- would drive ratings like nobody else.
-Eugene Melnyk, pharmaceuticals. Owns the Ottawa Senators, made a fortune as an entrepreneurial drug manufacturer. Is he mean enough to say, "you're fired"?
-Jean Coutu, retail pharmacies. Is the world ready for "L'Apprentice"?

I'm sure I'm forgetting somebody obvious. Enlighten me, please.


Blogger James MacDuff said...

As a Maritimer, I have to log in first of all with the two dynasty families of our region: McCain or Irving. K.C. would be the natural, though now deceased. On that note, Izzy Asper would have been another colourful character in the CEO Chair. But given the feuding between Harrison and Wallace, I think having the two McCain brothers in the boardroom, arguing with themselves as much as the contestants, could make for good TV.

But the one you are forgetting. Easy, Frank Stronach. In fact, you may be a step behind the story. Seems talks are underway for a Horse-Racing industry show with Frank at the helm: http://www.yorkregion.com/yr/businesstimes/story/2522134p-2922209c.html

6:42 PM  

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