The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den are betrayals of true British enterprise


In 2022, the CBI director-general Tony Danker warns, “the challenge… is now very clear for the UK economy. Significant headwinds and rising costs-of-living threaten the extent of [our] recovery and prospects for economic success.” 

And as businesses struggle with new Brexit paperwork, the chaos of Covid and an ensuing lack of staff, the idea that buying cheap tourist tat in Malta (Apprentice series 14) or marketing a cruise line (this series) – yes, those Covid superspreaders that the Foreign Office, in July 2021, advised against travelling on – has any relevance to the skills needed to run a business today? It’s so funny, it’s not funny.

Future Apprentice tasks will include marketing an electric toothbrush to children, developing an original video-game concept, designing a corporate away-day at Silverstone, and boosting Welsh tourism. Nicely done, Lord Sugar. That shows as tight a grasp on the skills needed in Britain today as your decision to kill off our personal-computer industry in 1986. (In 1982, Apple sold 65,000 Apple III computers, while Clive Sinclair sold 1 million ZX Spectrums. In 1986, Sugar’s Amstrad bought and closed Sinclair’s company. In 2007, Sugar sold Amstrad to Sky for £125 million. In 2022, as mentioned, Apple is worth $3 trillion.)

But, Dragons’ Den – that’s more realistic, right? There’s the Reggae Sauce bloke, Levi Roots. He’s done well. And 2007 winner Peter Moule with Chocbox… although the Chocbox website domain seems to be “parked”, and Moule’s company Fast Fix Box, which listed Duncan Bannatyne as a director until 2015, has no employees and a debt of £50,000 to Electro Expo, which also listed Bannatyne as a director until 2015 and also has zero employees. All the same, Moule is still mentioned in every journalist’s look-back at Dragons’ Den’s “success stories”. 


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