In Depth

Fox, Endemol USA Have 'Gotta Go'

Fox and Endemol USA are teaming up for “Someone’s Gotta Go,” a recession-era reality concept in which the employees, rather than the boss, determine who gets laid off.

Each episode of the series will focus on a single troubled small business in which management has already determined that an employee needs to be fired.

“They have to get rid of someone,”said Mike Darnell, president of alternative at Fox. “Instead of the boss making an arbitrary decision…the employees decide who goes.”

A real-life employment coach will serve as host of the show.

The project began with Endemol USA and its London office developing an idea about a toxic workplace. Mr. Darnell then was inspired by a cable news report about a woman who opened the financial records of her company so that her employees could see who made what.

That transparency will be part of “Someone’s Gotta Go,” since employees will get to see what their colleagues make. They’ll also have to justify their work habits to one another, with a group discussion among staffers leading to the decision about who gets dumped.

“This is about making a difficult decision through a democratic process,” said David Goldberg, chairman of Endemol North America. “It’s usually an autocratic decision where the boss determines who goes home. It’s almost empowering to let the employees make the call.”

Mr. Darnell said many employees are frustrated when they see hard-working employees fired, while less productive staffers linger on.

“It’s so arbitrary,” he said. “In the long run, it’s so empowering and so of the moment.”

Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Darnell are keeping some key details of “Someone’s Gotta Go” under wraps for now, but the executives said the show will mix elements of tension with some humor.

The project represents the first Endemol USA production for Fox since “The Next Great Champ.”

Production on “Someone’s Gotta Go” has already begun; the two companies declined to discuss how many episodes have been ordered or when the show will air.

However, industry insiders believe Fox will try to get the show on the air as soon as possible, perhaps as early as this summer.