There has been continued outrage in the media regarding footage from what is believed to be the Iraqi version of “The Apprentice” that has been posted onto several websites in the middle east.
Internet blogs reveal that the format has changed to make it more relevant to the Iraqi viewer. So now, instead of competing to be a salaried lapdog of a 1980s entrepreneur who now concentrates on media exposure, the Iraqi version has contestants competing in a series of trials to determine their future role in the reconstructed war zone.
The leaked video footage shows the result of one of these trials in which the contestant remonstrates with the series judge in an executive courtroom. Controversy, however, surrounds the manner in which one contestant, known in media circles only as “Saddam” left the series and the unsubtle way that the celebrated catchphrase of “You’re fired!” has been replaced with “You’re dropped!” and is even acted out in the final scene.
“The Iraqis have taken this franchise and distorted it too far from its roots, “ complained Sir Alan Billingsworth, a former governor of the BBC. “What they have in Iraq is nothing like what we have in the west and what we tried to give them. I believe there was talk of sticking with ‘You’re fired!’ but the producers refused to act that one out. Mind you, I hear that a local Baghdad channel has a lower budget version where they have ’You’re axed!’ as the catchphrase. That really is extreme TV.”
Channel 4 said that they always keep a close eye on developments within the reality TV format but denied that recent construction work on the Celebrity Big Brother house is related to the leaked video. In contrast a source close to the production company Endemol said “Well our version has got a bit absurd, and maybe a ‘below stairs revolution’ could be a way to finally kill off Jade Goody”.
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