This summer's reality TV series, "The Restaurant," is entertaining but doesn't quite cut it as a lesson in starting a business. The show, which ends August 24, documents Rocco DiSpirto's exciting and chaotic opening of his new restaurant, which plays to the energy of a start up, but falls short in its educational value to business owners.
David Gumpert pointed out in his recent column, that the show suffered from one major fatal flaw -- its sponsors. American Express, Coors and Mitsubishi all had hands in the development of the program, and, according to Gumpert, "interfered with key educational matters associated with starting and running a business." American Express has created an online area called "The Realities of Running a Business -- Through the Eyes of Rocco DiSpirito, which puts a more educational spin to the series, with posts from Rocco and comments from other business owners addressing key business questions. When juxtaposing Rocco's experiences with other owners' out there, you do discover some interesting lessons, but the series itself is pure entertainment -- lots of drama and good-looking people, which is, what I think, NBC really intended anyway.