Donald Trump’s The Celebrity Apprentice, shot right here in Manhattan, raises money for charity, which is a good thing. The bad thing is watching the means to the end, which is akin to watching the sausage being made.
What started out as a pretty entertaining contest show eventually made me cringe from the participants’ behavior, especially that of Joan and Melissa Rivers. Melissa went pretty far in the challenge before being fired and was allowed back for the finale to assist her legendary comedian mother, who won the title.
There is no arguing that Team Rivers is reality television gold. I would not be surprised if they are already inking the deal for their own show where they can carry on, name call, break things and have meltdowns on a weekly basis.
I don’t know these two women, yet I feel as though I’ve worked with them. I still remember my first job, where a production assistant took thousands of dollars worth of ad comps and threw them down the hallway in a fit of rage. Not only did she not get fired, she was moved into the department and job she’d been lobbying for.
Then there was the creative director who chucked a stapler across the room and another who ripped a phone out of the wall. I’ve also witnessed co-workers having tantrums similar to that of the junior Rivers, who when let go, cursed and yelled, ran in every direction and looked as though her head was going to spin around like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist.
I really don’t remember any of my former workmates getting pink slipped for their antics and, in fact, many—like the Rivers—were rewarded regardless. To this day, I still find myself wondering, why is dignity not a skill set required in the workplace?
“Over the last three decades, there’s been more license for [bad] behavior,” says Christine Wilson of Career-911. The Upper East Side executive coach also says that people can manage their behavior if they know there will be consequences, but unfortunately many times there aren’t any, so there’s no impetus to change.
Wilson points out that there are industries where special talents are made mystical, for example creative environments like advertising and fashion, or high stress Wall Street-type jobs. When the tantrum-thrower is a real performer, that’s when management’s thinking really gets clouded.
“Bosses could tell the people to take their bad behavior elsewhere, but with them would go the stream of income they generate,” the career consultant says. “So senior people get into a syndrome where they make excuses and point to the person’s results.”
Wilson also says that because the matter is never addressed, management will never know if the employee would have gotten even better results if he/she weren’t acting out all the time.
I can’t say anyone’s behavior on The Celebrity Apprentice was admirable, not even The Donald’s. But at least now I understand why Joan Rivers’ champagne flute smashing, Vegas poker bashing and general insult hurling was not only tolerated but embraced. She is a performer, garnering $250,000 for God’s Love We Deliver, which provides food free of charge to the seriously ill. And so the end justifies the means.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl has been named Humor Writer of the Month by the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. Her column appears every other week.
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