A decade ago, reality television was in its stage of infancy as television networks relied on script writers to deliver shows largely based on fiction. For business professionals and executives, Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" changed television programming for the better by incorporating workplace-based content that people can relate to and discuss at the office.
We rank the five best business shows on television today:
(1) Shark Tank (ABC)
I consider "Shark Tank" as the best business show on television since investors (sharks) must risk millions of dollars in real money in high-risk ventures. Since the show's participants have plenty of "skin in the game," the interaction between small business owners and potential investors are as real as it gets. Billionaire sharks such as Kevin O'Leary and Mark Cuban show the audience what the real world is really like.
(2) Secret Millionaire (ABC)
In the "Secret Millionaire," a wealthy donor goes undercover and works with non-profit organizations around the country to figure out which ones are worthy of charitable donations. The wealthy individual must typically live on food stamps for a week in order to understand what struggling Americans are going through. Yes, this show is not produced in an office setting but rather involves philanthropy. However, "Secret Millionaire" is produced very well and business professionals can rediscover that the income they take home as well as their work can make a difference in society. The richest man in the graveyard is still dead.
(3) The Apprentice (NBC)
Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" is the pioneer of business-based reality shows. The real estate tycoon and producer Mark Burnett introduced the show a decade ago to wide acclaim and high ratings. I think what made the show so popular is that workers and professionals around the country could relate with the contestants who are trying to earn a $100,000 a year job as Mr. Trump's apprentice. The audience learns the value of teamwork and the importance of getting results. Hollywood may be a world of make-believe and outrageous fantasies. As this show reveals, we labor in a dog-eat-dog world.
(4) Extreme Couponing (TLC)
Why is this such a great show? I believe it's because "Extreme Couponing" shows the audience the value of the dollar. America's consumer culture has encouraged shoppers to devalue the worth of money when they go buy things at the mall that they don't really need.
In "Extreme Couponing," grocery shoppers (typically middle-aged women) spend hours each week compiling coupons that enable them to save hundreds of dollars on their trips to the store.
Typically, they save over 95 percent from the final bill and end up paying less than $20 for an entire haul of food, toiletries, and other household supplies. Yes, we live in a welfare state where tens of millions of Americans get free handouts from various government entitlements. Couponing reminds us the value of thrift, common sense, and industriousness. As advertisers attempt to brainwash us, we ultimately have control over our personal finances.
(5) Ultimate Factories (National Geographic)
Anyone who has ever worked for a Fortune 1000 company can relate to National Geographic's "Ultimate Factories". The show takes us inside the manufacturing facilities of some of the world's most famous companies, including Coca-Cola, Heineken, and General Motors. The audience gets to see the massive scale of operation it takes to produce products for the world market.
Here are other business shows that are worth watching despite not making our top five list.
- Deadliest Catch (Discovery)
- Undercover Boss (CBS)
- Pawn Stars (History)
- American Greed (CNBC)
- Dragon's Den (CBC - Canada)