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I'll mind my own business

One of the most dismaying television trends during the so-called boom years was the elevation to star status of the self-made millionaire business guru.

Between the Irish, British and American iterations of The Apprentice and Dragons' Den, not to mention the likes of The Secret Millionaire and the seemingly endless chain of programmes fronted by bob-haired high street retail diva Mary Portas, you couldn't turn on your television without encountering some entrepreneurial blowhard boasting about how they'd hauled themselves by their bootstraps to the summit of Mount Capitalism.

People whose names were previously unknown outside their own company boardrooms were suddenly dominating primetime television, arrogantly dispensing their wisdom to would-be entrepreneurs.


We've since discovered that reality is a different thing to reality TV. As economies crumbled, some of these pinstriped superstars were revealed to have feet of clay – Bill Cullen for one.

With Ireland and much of Europe mired in an economic recession even more brutal than the one that almost wiped this country off the map in the 1980s, the era of the celebrity business guru should, by rights, be dead and buried. But as the old saying goes, it's hard to kill a bad thing.

TV3 may have abandoned The Apprentice, but it still plans to unleash a celebrity version on us this autumn, with Caroline Downey Desmond sitting in Bill Cullen's old chair and Mikey Graham, Daniella Moyles and Amanda Brunker among the contestants. But it's RTE, more than any other broadcaster, which seems to have bizarre attachment to business-themed programmes.

Its latest offering is tonight's one-off documentary She's the Business (RTE1, 10.45pm).

At the time of writing, I haven't seen She's the Business.

I think I can probably live without it. An hour-long documentary that, as the RTE Guide puts it, "tells the story of six months in the careers of four Irish female entrepreneurs juggling life, love and running a business during the recession" doesn't exactly have 'must-see' stamped all over it.

I can definitely live without the final episode of Taking Care of Business (RTE1, Thur, 8.30pm), a series so profoundly dull, uninteresting and lacking in any kind of entertainment value, it forces you to consider watching paint dry as a valid alternative.

Taking Care of Business follows the same tired formula as Feargal Quinn's Retail Therapy and the Brennan brothers' At Your Service. Two "financial troubleshooters" called Sean Dunne and Tommy Murphy parachute in to offer some quick-fix advice to struggling businesses.


The grateful recipient of the dynamic duo's wisdom this week is car dealer George Mordaunt, whose rapid expansion of the family business in recent years eventually landed him in debt.

Can Sean and Tommy help him turn his fortunes around? With respect to Mr Mordaunt, I don't care, and it's hard to see why anyone outside his family, friends and employees should care either. Then again, business-themed programmes are never really about the nuts and bolts of running a business – a topic that's likely to bore the pants off most viewers.

They're about burnishing the egos and enriching the fortunes of the various gurus and 'experts' fronting them.

It's worth noting that the biggest success stories to emerge from RTE1's Dragons' Den are the dragons themselves. Norah Casey parlayed her time on the show into a career in broadcasting. So did Bobby Kerr, who currently hosts Newstalk's Down to Business.

Another dragon, Sean Gallagher, came within a whisker of being President of Ireland.

When someone can almost be elected to the highest ceremonial office in the land, partly on the basis of television celebrity, you know it's not business as usual.