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    Opinion: Why TV show The Apprentice must stop belittling design

Opinion: Why TV show The Apprentice must stop belittling design

Posted by Rob Alderson,

This week editor Rob Alderson tackles a long-nursed grievance relating to how the design process plays out on the hit TV show The Apprentice. As ever you can add your thoughts to the discussion using the thread below…

During last week’s two-hour culmination of the UK version of The Apprentice 2013, I was pushed too far. For the umpteenth time this series there was a “design bit” where the two finalists (Leah and Luisa if you care) went into agencies to sort out logos and other visual collateral for their respective businesses (botox clinics and cupcakes, again if you care).

It was the line “typography is very in right now” that made me snap and I Tweeted from the @itsnicethat account about the hardship of having to endure another “excruciating design section.” It was (in truth) quite a self-indulgent way to let off some steam, but the response from our followers was immediate and similarly dismayed.

To be clear I don’t blame the design agencies involved here. I presume there’s either some financial recompense for their time, or a bit of free publicity that makes it worthwhile, so good luck to them. But the arrogance of the contestants who assume they understand the way graphic design works – and are content to impose their megalomaniacal will on the poor sod at the computer – beggars belief. It’s worth noting that most of the designers have perfected a kind of wide-eyed look of resignation which presumably their studios train them up for in advance of the filming, better to communicate their helplessness.

The same thing happens with advertising in The Apprentice – experts and consultants ridden roughshod over by some fool who thinks they understand it just because they’ve watched most of the first season of Mad Men. The annoying thing is that I know there are things at which my spleen could better be vented.

And I’m sure professional singers weren’t best pleased by the rise of TV talent shows, perpetuating the myth that a sob-inducing backstory and a parrot-like-repeated desire to “follow your dream” gave any tragic karaoke wannabe the right to sing “live to the nation.” But at a time when the UK’s design industry is struggling to prove its worth – cultural and financial – to the country, this constant drip, drip undermining of its amazing talents has gone too far.

So if you’re a runner on the show, or even better a researcher, producer, heck if you’re Nick, or Karen or even the ennobled, beardy finger-pointer himself, can we please have at least one episode next year where someone actually asks – and takes – a design professional’s advice?

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Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.