OK, OK, let us do some back tracking first, since this won’t be the first Apprentice clone to air in China. Wise Man takes All, produced by Hong Kong property tycoon Vincent Lo, was the first copycat to hit the airwave last year, and Shanghaiist reported it here. In fact, there was talk of the Donald coming to China himself and produce a local version of The Apprentice, but it broke down over contract negotiations.
The new show, Win In China, produced by CCTV will follow The Apprentice pretty closely with task driven, team oriented competitions, and the winner gets to run his/her own company with at least 10 million RMB to throw around. But it won’t have the charismatic Trump and his thugged-out lieutenants George and Carolyn to spice up the show. We were pretty sure CCTV would have no problem finding a Chinese replacement: a pompous megalomaniac A-hole with a gaudy pad, hot girlfriend, yacht, private jet — the whole nine — and of course, a bad hairdo. Unfortunately, there will be no such personality forthcoming.
At the end of every episode, viewers decide who gets the axe, a la last year’s media phenom, Super Voice Girls. We think it’s a bad move — the boardroom showdown is 80 percent of the show. The contestants could be playing yacht-zee the whole time for all we care, as long as we get the two-faced, backstabbing, “you suck more than I do” bit at the end. Then of course, this is not The Apprentice, and the show is taped in China. As the executive producer Wang Lifeng explains, “I think The Apprentice show is driven by money, which is hard to accept in Chinese culture.” (Insert your own jokes here.)
He went on to say, “What we’re looking for is the talent of self-management and entrepreneurship. …The program matches very well with the country’s current situation.” A no-nonsense work ethic with very little regard for money, we infer. Yup, that’s Shanghai alright.
Win in China is scheduled to air in mid May, and Shanghaiist will probably give it a pass. But, we are salivating over the prospect of more local adaptations of American reality shows to come: Temptation Island, The Bachelor, Blind Date, The Fifth Wheel. Bring on the madness (with Chinese characteristics)!