Trump has shown the world the joys of firing
EmptyWho says Americans don't share the cultural values of the rest of the world? Localized versions of "The Apprentice" are enjoying runaway success around the globe, proving that the schadenfreude of watching an ambitious wannabe squirming in his seat as the bossman berates him is something that translates universally.
For creator Mark Burnett, what makes "The Apprentice" so appealing is its simple, relatable premise. "Everyone has had to interview for a job before, so it's totally relatable to make a series, which is pretty much a televised three-month job interview," he says.
From Burnett's initial inspiration has sprung a program that is now watched in boardrooms and bars alike in more than 70 countries. The original Donald Trump-hosted program reaches a global audience in the hundreds of millions in approximately 40 countries, whereas local "Apprentices" have been produced in 24 countries, including Estonia, Indonesia, Turkey and Russia. An African version of the show is currently in production in Nigeria, and negotiations are under way to bring the show to Italy, France and Spain.
One of the most successful versions of the show is in the U.K., where the fourth season of "The Apprentice" begins this month on BBC1. The program consistently ranks in the top five and has spawned two related shows: a recap program called "You're Fired" and "Comic Relief Does 'The Apprentice.'"
The rags-to-riches story of its host, technology mogul Sir Alan Sugar, has opened the U.K.'s eyes to the power of self-empowerment, says the show's executive producer Michele Kurland.
"In the U.S. you've always had hundreds of self-help books available," she says. "But that's a recent thing here in the U.K. There are no apprenticeships in business anymore, but people want to learn, and from our show they see that they can."
And what's an "Apprentice" without a host? Though the Donald made his fortune in real estate, other hosts have more varied backgrounds: Inger Ellen Nicolaisen made millions running a hairdressing salon chain in Norway; mining magnate Vladimir Potanin -- No. 38 on the Forbes Billionaires List -- hosts Russia's version of the program, known as "The Candidate"; and Roberto Justus is a top marketing and advertising executive who hosts the hugely popular Brazilian version of the show, "O Aprendiz," which will begin its fifth season on the Rede Record television network in May.
"Brazilians are definitely more laid-back than Americans, but if you come to Sao Paulo, you see that we work very hard and we embrace business," says Flavia da Matta of Fremantle Productions Latin America, who credits the program with contributing to Brazilians' renewed emphasis on job performance. "This show has a lot to do with a change of mentality in the country that's taken place during the past few years."
For Trump, the show's triumph is the American dream. "I guess it's me, but it's also America," he notes. "It's business; it's success."
In So Many Words
A few examples of how contestants around the world get pink-slipped
Brazil: "Voce esta demitido!" (You're fired!)
Finland: "Olet vapautettu." (You're free to leave.)
Turkey: "Seninle calismak istemiyorum." (I do not want to work with you.)
South Africa: "You're dismissed."
Switzerland: "Sie sind raus." (You are out.)
Colombia: "Estas despedido!" (You're fired!)