5 Best TV Shows Entrepreneurs Must See in 2012

It’s difficult to take time to watch television while running and growing a business, but doing so can be a quick way to gain inspiration and tools. Entrepreneurs are represented in so many ways on television these days. From catering, cupcake baking, and restaurants to fishing, house flipping, and tech startups, there are many TV shows you can tune into for inspiration within your specific industry. For more general business inspiration, you can watch any TV show on CNBC, MSNBC or Bloomberg TV to learn something new which can take your business to another level. That said, there are only a few shows that I believe are great at giving multiple, awesome general business lessons while telling a great story all within one hour.

Below are 5 TV shows that I have enjoyed and learned great lessons from, listed in alphabetical order.

1. The Apprentice on NBC

In what has become a veteran of mainstream business TV shows, The Apprentice (along with its sister TV show Celebrity Apprentice) has proven to be more than about watching Donald Trump choose one person to win a job or a major donation (while firing the rest). Each week, you can learn lessons about:

  • Project Management
  • Team relations
  • Communication
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Presenting to executive management of a potential customer
  • How to answer the inevitable question “why you?” when it comes to being chosen for a new job/contract or retained for a current one

A new season of Celebrity Apprentice will begin airing on Sunday, February 19 at 9 pm EST.

If you miss it when it airs, you can catch full episodes online.
2. Oprah’s Master Class on OWN

The stories highlighted by this TV show are great for young entrepreneurs to glean the challenges and successes people can have by continuing to pursue their crafts even through perceived failure. Past entrepreneurs highlighted include Ted Turner, Lorne Michaels, Shawn Carter (aka Jay-Z), Oprah Winfrey and many others. Lessons shared have included:

  • Be true to what you want to do and what you don’t want to do
  • Be open to opportunities that push you beyond your current circumstances
  • Learn from your failures and get back up from them
  • How to know when it’s time to let go and move on

Oprah’s Master Class airs on Sundays at  10 pm EST. Some episodes and clips are available online, and you can read summaries of each episode as well.

3. Shark Tank on ABC

TV show ABC's The Shark Tank

Image: ABC

If you wanted to know what is essential to capture in your pitch/ 30-second sell/ business plan to gain buy-in from outside parties – this is the best TV show to watch. You can learn from real life pitches made by several entrepreneurs to potential investors and partners Barbara Cocoran, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec and new Shark Lori Greiner. The Sharks are uber-successful entrepreneurs who decide if they will invest their personal funds in a company according to the presentations given in each episode. From this show you can learn a lot including:

  • What goes into a good business pitch
  • What you should look for in potential investors, partners and advisers
  • Questions you should have answers to before you share your ideas with others
  • The level of innovation happening in this country today

Shark Tank airs on Fridays at 8 pm EST. You can watch full episodes online, and read recaps of each pitch.

Check out episodes from the Canadian version of the show Dragon’s Den – you’ll see some familiar Dragons.

4. Tabatha Takes Over on Bravo

TV Show Tabatha Takes Over on Bravo


Yes there’s more to Bravo than it’s Real Housewives franchise and similar TV shows. Tabatha’s Salon Takeover and the new Tabatha Takes Over are real gems for entrepreneurs who need some lessons in employee relations, customer service, marketing and much, much more. Tabatha Coffey has a knack for keeping it real with entrepreneurs – showing them the reality of what is going on in their businesses with footage from a hidden camera, speaking to entrepreneurs about the state of their companies and separately speaking to employees to get their sense of what is going on with business, giving entrepreneurs strong feedback on what they can do to strengthen the company and finally checking on them several weeks later to see if anything stuck. Although the show provides a cosmetic makeover for the place of business it really is more about the internal makeover that takes place with the business owners and their teams.

From this TV show, you can learn:

  • How the actions and attitude of a leader (you) affect the actions and attitudes of his or her (your) team and customers’ perspectives
  • How to assess if your business truly reflects the brand you want it to
  • Ways to partner with members of your business community to attract more customers
  • How a clean, ordered work environment (cosmetic and systemic) affects team morale and ambition

Tabatha Takes Over airs on Tuesdays at 10 pm EST. You can watch clips online and read her behind-the-scenes commentary for different business cases.

P.S. This is a good one for consumers to watch so you can understand the level of customer service you SHOULD receive from your vendors.

5. Undercover Boss on CBS

TV show Undercover Boss on CBS

Image: Littlejohn/CBS

One of the best ways to understand different challenges within your organization is to infiltrate the system and make observations while doing the work. The premise of this TV show is a CEO joins the regular, typically customer-facing, workforce in his or her organization in a disguise so everyone will act as they normally do without the pressure of being watched by a senior manager. These CEOs see first hand what works and what does not work in their companies. By the end of their journey, they meet with their executive teams to share their observations and implement system-wide changes. They reward good employees they meet along the way and chastise employees that do not exemplify company values. Ultimately it is an experience in coming down to Earth and really experiencing the company as a person who usually represents the company to end users.

Lessons you may embrace from watching Undercover Boss include:

  • How employees’ perception of senior management’s appreciation of them can affect customer service
  • The importance of clear communication throughout the organization so everyone understands company and employee expectations
  • How to understand whether resources exist to provide the customer service you expect your customers to receive
  • What connecting with your employees can do for company morale

New episodes of Undercover Boss begin airing on Friday, February 17 at 8 pm EST. You can watch full episodes online anytime.

What TV shows do you watch for inspiration and lessons in business? Share in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “5 Best TV Shows Entrepreneurs Must See in 2012”

  1. Hello Yolanda. I watch all the shows you wrote about above. I also watch Black Enterprise Business Report, Your Business on MSNBC, Game Changers and Risk Takers on Bloomberg TV, Power Lunch which talks about major companies and interviews CEOs.

  2. I like Shark Tank. Of the rest, I’d have to say Undercover Boss ranks lowest. We’ve seen a number of episodes and it’s the same show every time, just with a different boss. There’s always a sweet lower-echelon employee with a hard luck story and the boss ends up rewarding this person at the end with a slight raise, promotion or educational opportunity. Pretty blatant tug at the heartstrings.

    Shark Tank is all business, though and entertaining as heck.
    Charleen Larson recently posted..Financial independence through Fiverr: Realistic or just hype?My Profile

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