The Entrepreneur I : THE VISION
The premise is simple enough. It’s a reality show which follows the trials and tribulations of a person setting up and running a business on his own. In a way it’s similar to The Apprentice in that it is a business educational program and a reality show. But that’s where the similarities end. There’s going to be no Donald Trump like entity who’s going to make you live in a tent if you lose and no ‘You’re Fired!’. Each and every mistake the entrepreneur-in-the-making makes is going to cost him in the real world. So it’s not a game for him where he can have some fun and if he loses he can walk away from it. That’s the scary part. The business is going to be damn real and if he messes it all up, it’s going to be tough for him to get back on track for the rest of his or her life. This is as real as it gets and this is what a real reality show should be. In life if you make a mistake you pay a heavy price, the same rule applies here.
This is the point where any channel worth its salt is going to go ballistic over this idea as to how the hell is this going to work? To begin with, who’s going to provide the funding for the business? Then who’s going to provide the expertise for the business. The guy who approaches the program producers to become the entrepreneur won’t be having either of the two otherwise why would he turn to them for help? The channel itself doesn’t have these things to start up a business, let alone a number of businesses. Who’s going to help this guy?
The answer is – everyone.
That’s the charm of the whole concept. The idea is to get everyone involved. The team (the budding entrepreneur, the host and the camera crew) is going to go to the movers and shakers of the business world and ask for their help, and they probably would be willing to help out with resources and expertise in return for some free publicity. For instance for the financing part they’re are going to go to Shell Tameer. Shell Tameer is a non-profit organization, an offshoot of Shell, which helps out budding entrepreneurs. Even SMEDA or the government’s SME can help out. The possibilities are endless. Then for the acquisition of property for running the business, the help of the top dogs in real estate in Pakistan can be sought. For the rest of the business processes, to whom they turn to for help will depend upon the type of business being built. For instance if it’s a restaurant and an upscale one at that; the expertise of restaurant owners on Zamzama or in other posh localities can be sought.
One of the elements crucial to the success of the program is the choice of the host. With so many major aspects to tend to, this element I’m afraid could be overlooked to the extent that anyone with a bit of hosting experience maybe hired. I foresee that as a recipe for disaster, especially considering the fact that the only other person under the limelight is going to be the entrepreneur candidate. The probability of this person having the on-screen charisma to make the program work by attracting the audience is pretty slim, especially if you’re going to choose an average Joe (or Jane) from the lot on the basis of just his passion for his idea or his plan for the business. This guy probably is going to be appearing on television for the first time in his life and as such is going to be pretty conscious or even scared shit in the worst case scenario.
In the case of Apprentice it works because there are more than a dozen average Joes and Janes. A few of them are bound to have some sort of charisma or even some controversial inclinations. And even if not a single one of them has it, the volatile interactions between these people, the bickering and back-stabbing stir a drama that more than makes up for the lack of charismatic personalities. We don’t have that luxury in the case of the Entrepreneur. It may work in the case when a group of people want to start a business together because in that case you can give coverage to their arguments and fights as they try to converge on common ground, otherwise not.
So what sort of host do we need? A guy who’s bubbling with enthusiasm, is lively irrespective of the circumstances and knows his shit. A good sense of humor won’t hurt either. In short we need someone like CNN’s Richard Quest or the guy who hosts Massive Speed on Discovery.
How its going to work is that a team comprising of the budding entrepreneur, the host and the camera crew are going to go to the offices of the organization or the businessman whose help is required, and then the whole discussion that ensues there is going to be filmed to be shown on the show. That way, they get the help; the expert gets the publicity- everyone wins.
But if worse comes to worse, and no one is willing to help out with the resources part, I believe that Pakistan is brimming with mighty wealthy philanthropists who can be persuaded to help out. In any case, I don’t see the idea bombing because of this reason. The only problem it faces is in its implementation.