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Why ITV2's The Exclusives isn't BBC1's Young Apprentice
The cast of ITV2's The Exclusives
It's the show ITV2 has been plugging every 15 minutes (or so it seems). Six people competing for a 'once in a lifetime' journalist job at leading company Bauer Media, complete with a promotional trailer that makes it look like Made in Chelsea and The Only Way Is Essex in a blender.
This series has been branded by some as ITV2's answer to BBC1's Young Apprentice because of apparent similarities in the format.
"Made in Chelsea and The Only Way Is Essex in a blender"
The wannabes will be set tasks, and they will have to prove themselves to mentors. And yes, they all share a big old posh house in London.
However, some aspects are not at all in the spirit of The Apprentice's spin-off. And this has induced much furrowing of my eyebrows.
A career for a competition?
Despite its traditional circus of people at each other's throats, Young Apprentice has an underlying message endorsed by Lord Sugar; chiefly, anyone is capable of making a bundle of cash as long as you have a decent business plan and you aren't completely stupid.
You'd think that with a similar set-up, and an old school Apprentice-ish 'job of a lifetime' prize at the end of it, The Exclusives would have a similar missive. Well, not really.
When The Exclusives was announced back in January, Abby Carvosso, Managing Director of Lifestyle and Advertising at Bauer Media said: "We're on the hunt for a gutsy, fearless and talented individual who stands out from the crowd." Contestants Hayley Newnes, Chris Goddard, Ellie Henman, Felix Clarke, Sunny (real name Yasmin Mednini) and Stuart Roberts certainly fit that description.
They'll be mentored by industry experts and work closely at numerous Bauer Media titles (including Heat, Kerrang!, Empire, more! and Closer) so the opportunity is not to be sniffed at, especially in this financial climate.
"Lads' magazine Loaded, for example, is up for sale"
Lads' magazine Loaded, for example, is up for sale for the second time in two years because owner Vitality Publishing has called in the administrators.
As in many other industries, redundancies are commonplace, budgets are being squeezed and for many wannabe journalists, getting into the media industry these days is like trying to thread a piece of fabric into a needle while skydiving. Competition is that fierce.
My problem with The Exclusives is, just like certain other reality TV shows, there is a risk that producers have simply chosen people who will make good television, rather than the person best qualified for the job.
While the winner of Young Apprentice receives £25,000 award towards a business development, The Exclusives' top prize is a year-long contract for a job, even though some of the candidates have no journalism background or experience in the field whatsoever.
Is it right that this career opportunity, one so many talented people struggle to land, is offered up as a prize in a reality TV show?
Show me the Bauer
In Young Apprentice, the candidates are tasked with general business challenges. In The Exclusives, the tasks have a journalism angle (such as interviewing celebrities on the red carpet). That's alright, isn't it?
Well, maybe it would be were it not for one crucial fact. In The Exclusives, contestants will be working on behalf of Bauer Media at one of their titles. In the first episode, they hit the red carpet and undertake fashion work for more! Next week they'll be interviewing a collection of tattooed people for Kerrang!, and so forth.
The judges deciding the winner are also from Bauer Media titles. The more cynical could term The Exclusives a seven-week TV campaign for Bauer Media. This show is their marketing department's wet dream. I can accuse Young Apprentice of numerous things, but a one-hour weekly advert for Lord Sugar's business ventures, it ain't.
But what do you think? Are you in favour of the prize potentially being won by someone that doesn't have the appropriate background? Is this a show you'll be watching in the weeks ahead? Despite my misgivings, I'll be tuning into ITV2 to see how it all pans out.