Saturday, April 12, 2008


So many people tell lies on their CVs that Independent Television recently made a programme about it.
So many people tell lies on television that one presenter, Claudia Winkleman, is almost making a trade mark of it.
‘I tell lies,’ she regularly cheerfully admits, smiling sweetly.
At best, lies are intended to spare pain or are simply spin, putting the best face on the facts or what’s on offer.
At worst, as the TV programme revealed, they can amount to fraud and people get jobs for which they have no qualifications and could hurt others.
Some people become so convinced by the lies they tell that they come to believe them. The lies become the truth in their minds.
I have no idea if the current crop of candidates competing for Sir Alan Sugar’s £100,000 job in the new series of The Apprentice are telling lies or the truth when they talk about their skills.
What I do know is they sound so unconvincing that it’s hard to believe that they believe what they are saying and are not simply honouring the popular pervasive mantra of ‘being positive.’
Like candidates in previous years, all look young enough to have attended a course on how to market yourself to get a job.
There is nothing wrong with these courses - you get nowhere without marketing these days - except that they reflect the current preoccupation that marketing and selling yourself is often more important than the skills to do the job for which you are applying.
Style wins out over substance, marketing over job skills.
This may help to explain that when put to the test on various jobs in The Apprentice, much vaunted management, leadership and team playing skills seem to vanish and are replaced by outstanding incompetence and a total lack of intelligence and even commonsense - not to mention panic and loathing of one another.
Obviously, The Apprentice candidates are not the brightest people in their generation. If they were they wouldn’t be taking part in The Apprentice. Few people with real career prospects would risk throwing them all up to spend three months closeted in claustrophobic comfort with people they may come to hate - not to mention the humiliation which is the show’s stock-in-trade.
The Apprentice is simply a brilliant promotional vehicle for Sir Alan while the exposure of the frailties and weaknesses of the candidates, who will all bar one get fired, makes compulsive TV and Internet viewing.
They may also be blighted by the current obsession with instant fame and have put themselves up for the show in the hope that their 15 minutes of fame may open doors to other opportunities and a more enduring renown.
A psychiatrist who worked on the Big Brother series gave up the job when he saw the destructive effect it had on the lives of the competitors afterwards and the difficulties they had returning to obscurity after they had been booted out of the big house.
Unless there are contract clauses banning it, there is an excellent and equally compulsive viewing series to be made called After The Apprentice - exploring the effect appearing on the show has had on candidates’ lives. Now that prospective employers know their failings, has the show helped or hindered their job prospects?
I suspect it may have done them little good and the sad truth may be that not even a fee of £100,000 each to take part in such a TV show could compensate for the damage the original programme may have done to them psychologically and not that much help as they return to life as the losers most of them were from the beginning.
Apart from the tragic disappearance of their elder daughter, Madeleine, the biggest problem Kate and Gerry McCann now have seems to be their resentment they cannot control the media.
They want publicity but not if they don’t like what is reported about them.
From the start this unfortunate couple have enjoyed the unique benefit of top, high powered PR help - a chunk of it at taxpayers’ expense when Gordon Brown sent the then government spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, to Portugal to oversee the publicity and ensure a high profile for the ‘Find Madeleine’ campaign.
But since their successful libel action against the Express Group of newspapers and the hint more might follow, neither they nor Mitchell, who now works full time for Team McCann, seem quite so sure footed in handling the media.
One day this week Mitchell was saying there seemed little point in the couple returning to Portugal, where they remain official suspects, to stage a reconstruction unless there was the publicity benefit of it being broadcast Crime Watch style.
The next Gerry McCann's whining voice was bemoaning the possibility of a ‘media circus’ if they did.
And events seem to overtake them.
Off to Brussels on a high profile trip to impress the European Parliament with the need for an Amber Alert for missing children in Europe, they must have hoped for favourable publicity the next day. Instead what made headlines was a Portuguese police leak that the day she disappeared Madeleine had asked her mother why she and her siblings had been left to cry by themselves in the dark the previous night.
Mitchell had to play catch-up on the TV news, denouncing the leak as ‘a blatant attempt to smear them’ and demanding a full investigation and the Portuguese government ‘get a grip.’
If they want to keep their search for Madeleine in the news, the McCanns also need to get a grip, accept that not every story will be favourable to them and stop their unremitting efforts to try to control and manipulate the media. Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2008. All Rights Reserved

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