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Ambassador's job as prize in TV show

Tel Aviv: In some countries, reality television offers contestants fame and fortune. In Israel, the winner gets the equivalent of a job with the civil service. The latest reality programme to catch the country's imagination is "The Ambassador", in which 14 contestants compete at defending Israel's reputation abroad. The winner will receive a year's contract at an agency set up in New York to promote the country in the United States. The show's popularity and the prize it offers reflect, say academics, domestic confusion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how it is perceived around the world. The 14 contestants must carry out a variety of diplomatic tasks in Washington, New York, France, Britain and Israel. The judges are a former spokesman for the Israeli army, a former head of the Shin Bet internal security agency and a television political correspondent. The winner will be the person who best demonstrates the qualities of a professional advocate and presents Israel in the most positive light. The format is based on The Apprentice, the show in which the tycoon Donald Trump sets aspiring job applicants tasks and then tells one at the end: ``You're fired.'' The first edition of The Ambassador featured a debate between the seven male and seven female contestants at the Cambridge University Union in south-east England. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

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