Fox Turns Real Firings Into Entertainment in Reality TV Show

A new reality show pits co-workers against each other, people lose jobs.

ByABC News via logo
April 9, 2009, 7:21 AM

April 9, 2009 — -- Some people will do anything to get on television, including getting fired from a job while the world watches, like in Donald Trump's "The Apprentice."

But what if you were fired not by the Donald, not even by your own boss but by your co-workers, peeping over the cubicles surrounding you?

Fox's controversial new reality television show "Somebody's Gotta Go" plans to answer the question even if the cost is, as some critics have suggested, far too high.

"This is treating a real-life situation -- one of the most difficult in someone's life -- as if it's a game. That's wrong," John Challenger, CEO of outplacement consulting firmChallenger, Gray and Christmas Inc., told "Good Morning America."

The show will highlight a small business that needs to downsize because of the economy, but instead of the bosses deciding who gets the axe, co-workers must choose who among them has to go. Workers will have to defend themselves, justifying their work habits, all leading to a group discussion to determine who gets dumped.

To help make their decision, employees will have access to each others' usually private records including budgets, human resources files and salaries.

According to Challenger, such high-profile firings go beyond disrespectful and could even put the axed employee at risk for mental illness.

"Telling someone they are losing their job is such a private matter," he said. "That person deserves the respect of not having others to witness it. Losing one's job is one of the biggest issues people face in their lives. There is a grieving process. Letting someone go in a public way certainly could lead to depression and other sorts of mental health risks."

While Challenger believes the show to be in bad taste in general, other critics say it is making its debut at an especially insensitive time, playing on people's fears during a time of rampant unemployment.

Internet message boards lit up with outrage over news of the show.

"Many of us don't need a reality show for this," one commenter wrote. "We live or lived it."

"How low can you go?" another wrote.