Things I don’t Miss about Work: The Language

#2 in an occasional series.

Last week, the BBC broadcast the first episode of a series called The Apprentice. It will follow the fortunes of 14 applicants (seven men, seven women) who are all fighting for a single job with Alan Sugar, a well-known (and tough) British businessman. Each week, the applicants are split into two teams, and each week someone from the losing team will be eliminated from the competition. The programme’s format hails from America, where the businessman in question was Donald Trump.

At first I thought that I wouldn’t watch it, because I don’t care to see naked greed. However, I have to confess that within 10 minutes I was completely hooked, simply because the 14 individuals were all so appallingly mendacious. It became one of those shows that I watch through my fingers spread over my face.

But the thing that marked out the experience was the language used by the contestants. All the well-worn phrases of management-speak were there: "I like to lead from the front." "I like to think outside the box." "It’s most important that we work as a team." – This from the leader of the women’s team, who consistently undermined any attempt by her fellow team members to act as a team. She rapidly became the star of the show – the gulf between the homilies she trotted out and her every action was terrific (in all senses of the word) to see. I could have sworn that she had taken lessons from David Brent.

I’ll be there on the sofa for the rest of the series, alternately laughing and crying, and eternally grateful that I no longer have to rub shoulders on a daily basis with people like that.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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