A high-profile group of social entrepreneurs and business leaders have written to the BBC, urging it to widen the reach of The Apprentice so that it focuses more on social business.
The campaign, co-ordinated by the national body Social Enterprise UK, describes the hit reality show as “out of touch” with modern day business. It claims that there is a noticeable shift towards not-for-profits or firms with a distinct social or environmental benefit, and this should be reflected in the BBC’s programming.
The letter, addressed to acting controller of BBC One Charlotte Moore, has been signed by the likes of Big Issue founder John Bird, Social Enterprise UK chief executive Peter Holbrook and former Apprentice winner Tim Campbell. The entrepreneurs call on the BBC to do more to promote social enterprises – namely through The Apprentice.
Bird said, “We need more TV shows about social entrepreneurs and enterprises.
“Though at times the sector is overlooked, more and more people are buying into the idea that we need business and social need to come together. There are a lot of very exciting stories and a lot of interesting people doing astonishing things.”
According to the group, there has only been one social entrepreneur on The Apprentice: Melody Hossaini, who appeared in the sixth series of the show.
Hossaini, who is founder and CEO of youth development business InspirEngage International, said, “Figures show that The Apprentice is responsible for inspiring a wave of entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. But, while this is positive, the series does not show the social values that exist in modern business.”
The Apprentice, based on a US show of the same name, first aired on BBC Two in 2005. It stars business magnate Lord Sugar, who fires a contestant each week before crowning a winner in the last episode, with whom he subsequently enters a business partnership.
At the G8 Social Impact Investment Conference on Thursday, David Cameron described social investment as “a great force for social change on the planet”. He announced that the government would be offering tax breaks for social investment and greater help for communities in buying local assets.
He also unveiled a Social Stock Exchange, in an effort to connect investors with publicly-listed social businesses.