When Donald Trump fires contestants on “The Apprentice,” no one really loses a job – even the C-listers on the current celebrity version likely still have plenty in the bank and the rest go home with stories to tell or schemes to extend their 15 minutes of fame, like Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.
Now the opportunistic programming geniuses at FOX reportedly want to make a reality TV spectator sport out of our troubled economy with a show called, "Someone's Gotta Go."
The sleazy premise: employees of a small business decide which one of their colleagues will be laid off. The show, to be hosted by an unnamed business consultant, will focus on a different company every week.
There’s nothing entertaining about watching people lose their jobs – especially with the country mired in a recession and national employment at 8.5 percent, a 25-year high.
“The Apprentice” and various TV competitions for fashion designers, model, chefs, singers are loosely lumped under the reality TV umbrella, but they’re really just game shows with sometimes manufactured dramas and storylines tossed in. The shows feature folks – often clueless and sometimes talentless – aspiring to lofty professional goals, hoping to gain some measure of celebrity.
Hopes often end up dashed into shards of humiliation – but rarely does anyone suffer a direct loss of livelihood.
“Someone's Gotta Go” seems likely to dredge up the kind of behind-the-scenes deal-making, strategizing and backstabbing that’s fun to watch when the players are voting a rival off an island, but not when someone’s ability to put food on the table is at stake. In this case, the business machinations and the words “You’re fired” cut too close to home to qualify as entertainment or anything of redeeming value.
Rupert Murdoch and his FOX minions are on track to do the seemingly impossible: make Trump look like a pussycat.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.