The Apprentice Week 2: A classic demonstration of modern prejudice

apprentice-week-2.jpgPrejudice has been likened to a virus and on last night’s Apprentice its pernicious influence was very much in evidence. The bigotry wasn’t obvious but it was there as a definite and sinister undertone.

As viruses mutate, so does bigotry: there was no racist language, no references to colour or ethnicity but it could be seen and heard in the treatment dished out by Ricky Martin, Adam Corbally and, by his passive acceptance of their opinions, Nick Holzherr (all pictured above), towards project manager Azhar Siddique and team member Duane Bryan.

So let’s put this starkly: two white males with their quiet accomplice basically set out from the start of the task, to design and sell a consumer product, to undermine their team leader who is Asian and to denigrate the ideas of their black team mate.

They didn’t accept their leader and were determined, by any means possible – including lying – to undermine and indeed sabotage his attempts to manage them. Siddique wasn’t the greatest leader but he deserved better from this trio of troublemakers.

The celebrations on learning of their victory were at once disturbing, illuminating and in-keeping with their previous actions. There was a deliberate and conscious decision not to give any credit to Azhar for his leadership. It was a calculated snub lacking generosity, manners and respect. Its impact was to ensure that Azhar felt excluded and forced to justify himself to the group (whom he had led to victory remember) only to be faced with openly contemptuous responses.

It may be rather surprising to learn that the effusive tributes for Duane are actually part of the same prejudiced pattern. Research has shown that minorities are more likely to be praised in situations that are not really that significant but that in more critical situations e.g. appraisals or promotions, their contributions have a higher chance of being overlooked.

After the event, with the victory assured, Duane was lauded for his creative genius, his clear thinking and his great presentations – even though he was effectively told to keep his trap shut when meeting the retailers. This is a defence strategy employed by prejudiced individuals to deflect attention from their hostile behaviour and attitudes: ‘How can we be racist? Look at how we treated Duane!’

The conditions for prejudice exist in abundance in the Apprentice: there are the contextual factors of pressure, competition, fatigue and individualism combined with the emotional factors of frustration, aggression, anger and passion. This potent mix increases the likelihood of prejudice emerging. Last night’s show was a classic demonstration of how prejudice manifests itself in the modern workplace.

Oh, by the way, Maria was eliminated.

The Apprentice League week 2
Duane 6
Gabrielle 5
Nick 5
Katie 4
Azhar 3
Bilyana (Fired week 1) 2
Jane 3
Laura 2
Adam 1
Jade 1
Stephen 1
Maria (Fired week 2) 0
Ricky 0
Tom 0
Jenna 0
Michael 0
Binna Kandola

About Binna Kandola

Diversity, Assessment and Development Specialist Professor Binna Kandola is a Business Psychologist, Senior Partner and co-founder of Pearn Kandola.

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