The title of Ole Schell’s documentary is also the name of China’s first-ever reality TV show, in which teams of would-be entrepreneurs compete against each other in pursuit of a $5 million prize that will be used to finance a new business plan. The program may seem like a Chinese riff on “The Apprentice,” albeit with a greater focus on entrepreneurial business strategies rather than Omarosa-style showboating by contestants. (In the absence of a Donald Trump personality at the center of the show, a panel of business tycoons serves as a judging panel.)
“Win in China” quickly became a learning experience for everyone involved: the go-getter contestants trying to establish themselves, the government-controlled CCTV network (which was caught off-guard by the popularity of the episodes) and the Chinese public (which, literally, never saw anything quite like this).
Schell’s film provides an interesting aspect into China’s curious business environment, where an aggressive hunger for the individual-oriented rewards of a capitalism economy casually co-exists with a communist government. While the film never quite gets around to covering the harsh negative aspects of the Chinese economic machine (including painfully low wages, environmental hazards, the lack of transparency in too many industries and a high quantity of government-imposed roadblocks to progress), it nonetheless offers an intriguing glimpse at what makes today’s Chinese entrepreneurs tick.
U.S. business leaders should pay heed to “Win in China,” if only to be cognizant of what’s happening with their competitors across the Pacific.