How do you say, "You’re fired?" in Chinese?
A Chinese version of the hit reality series "The Apprentice" is in the works, although details of the project are shrouded in secrecy.
According to a marketing brochure, "The Apprentice" will be the "first reality television show in China to be fully licensed for production and localization from original North American producers."
The document, which was made available at a prelaunch party in Beijing for the series, added, "In cooperation with Creative Artists Agency, (series creator) Mark Burnett grants official authorization and license to Beijing Golden Sea Film and TV Prods. Co. for the local production of ‘The Apprentice.’ "
No one was available for comment at Mark Burnett Prods. or CAA. But sources in the United States confirmed that a Chinese version is going ahead.
CAA and Beijing Golden Sea representatives declined comment on the record at the party, which featured clips of the U.S. show starring Donald Trump.
The State Administration of Radio Film and Television, which tries to keep a tight grip on what China’s 347 million television households can watch, could not be reached for comment.
Talk of a local Chinese version of the hit reality show has been circulating for about a year. Media reports more than a year ago said that Beijing real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi might host a version.
The original "Apprentice" can be seen in China by those who can access Hong Kong-based broadcaster STAR TV and by anybody willing to buy illegal copies widely available on pirated DVDs sold at a fraction of the cost of the licensed originals.
The Beijing Golden Sea brochure, which features a picture and miniprofile of Burnett, said, "’The Apprentice’ China highlights a successful case of intellectual property rights protection in China television production."
Before the party — and a week after China’s Communist leaders held a news conference detailing the importance of developing local culture — a panel discussion titled "TV 2.0: ‘The Apprentice’ and Reality TV in China" addressed China’s readiness for the format.
Panelist Miao Di, dean of the School of Literature at the Communication University of China, said the reality TV concept was not mature in China and that he hoped that a local version of "Apprentice" could be made to appeal to Chinese. "Everybody knows that Chinese love money more than Americans, but they hate to mention it publicly," Miao said.
Chris Reitermann, a managing director of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising in Beijing, told the Beijing audience, "It’s always good news when high-production value shows are coming to China because a lot of our clients are moving away from advertising on TV where content in China does not always fit their brand."
Corporate sponsors featured in the original "Apprentice" are listed in the Beijing Golden Sea brochure, titled "The Apprentice China" in English and "Xue Tu" in Chinese. They include Wal-Mart, Microsoft and Proctor & Gamble, the largest buyer of primetime television advertising on China Central Television this year.
In 2005, the hit "Super Girl Voice," an "American Idol" mimic on Hunan TV, drew criticism from communist media regulators.