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The British Premier League?

Boss Swap

ATV World are showing the Channel 4 series "Boss Swap" that was aired in the UK at the start of this year. As with "Wife Swap" (not yet shown in Hong Kong), the concept is to find two quite different people and get them to swap lives for a short time. As the name implies, "Boss Swap" takes two bosses and arranges for them to take over each other's companies for two weeks.

ATV have chosen to show the second programme first, presumably because it is the most dramatic. The two bossses are Mike Porritt, who runs a business selling new cars at low prices, and Bruce Burkitt, who runs a small chain of estate agents (a.k.a. property agents or realtors). Mike is a fairly laid back Northerner who likes a drink and believes that the success of his business is in buying cars at low prices - selling them is easy if you get customers to visit your site. Bruce is a very aggressive salesman who works his people hard and prides himself on getting transactions completed more quickly than average.

Bruce was horrified to find out the type of business he would be running, and very disappointed with the attitude of the staff and the lack of proper systems. He found it very unprofessional that the salesman came in with hangovers and sat in the office eating crisps (potato chips).

He tried to smarten up the office and the site and to get the staff more motivated. Unfortunately his style came across as a bit too much like David Brent, and the staff weren't won over. Had been the real boss in charge permanently, I think he might have made some positive changes, but he would probably have had to replace most of the staff as well.

We saw no evidence of Mike doing anything very much in the estate agents. He was horrified at the long working hours and the pressure that the employees were under, and seemed to be particularly concerned that Debbie (the manager of one of the branches) was working so hard when she should have been a housewife. He arranged psychological profiling for all the managers and this seemed to prove that Debbie wasn't suited to the job. So he made her redundant.

The small complication was that Debbie is married to Bruce. She broke the rules to call her husband and give her the news, and he was horrified. This brought the show to an abrupt end - Mike refused to explain his decision to the other managers and decided to go home. Bruce had a row with the sales manager of the car dealers and ended up being fired by Mike.

It was hard to tell whether anyone was taking it seriously. The bosses did it for the free publicity, and presumably got what they wanted. The staff of the car dealers may well have been deliberately winding Bruce up, but even if they had tried to go along with his ideas it would have been too much of a culture shock for them. However, you have to give him credit for trying hard to improve the car business, whereas Mike obviously had a different agenda.

Entertaining stuff, but ultimately pointless.

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