'Swap’ Tries Stealth Pilot

Delighted by Wife Swap’s performance so far in its debut season, ABC is prepping two special episodes. The first, airing Dec. 1, is a self-explanatory one-off: Wife Swap: The Husband Edition. But the other, yet-to-be-scheduled variation, Boss Swap, will function as a back-door pilot that may become a standalone show, according to the network and British creator and executive producer Stephen Lambert. It’s not exactly a big gamble: Lambert has already scored in the U.K. ratings with a boss-swapping spinoff of Wife Swap, even though the idea of trading bosses is decidedly free of the naughty, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice connotations of the original. Then again, Wife Swap turned out to be an intriguing look at family-culture clashes, not marital mischief.

In keeping with Lambert’s philosophy of prying participants from their comfort zones and dropping them into entirely different settings, the upcoming Boss Swap scenario will switch a type-A guy who runs a used-car business with a nurturing woman who heads a mostly female marketing firm. “Instead of wives,” Lambert says, “we’re swapping bosses who have different values as expressed in the way they manage their companies.” Pity he didn’t negotiate the rights to “Apprentice Rebel Billionaire,” featuring Donald Trump in a hot-air balloon, ordering contestants to search the gondola for a missing cufflink as his hair madly flaps in the breeze.