It starts with a psychologist. It begins with a question about one's own dissatisfaction: “Why am I not just satisfied when something is good?” Are our economic elites, those powerful people who create, secure or cut jobs, psychologically abnormal? The ARD documentary “Einsame Spitze” explores the sensitivity of Germany's economic elite for an hour and a half. And the first thing is to send a piece at night. So that as few people as possible can see into our management?

A board member ponders, “My God, what's going on?”

Martin Brudermüller is the first CEO to invite a TV crew into his Daimler and its interior. The 62-year-old man was born in Stuttgart and can still be heard today. Since 2018, he has led BASF, the world's largest chemical company with more than 110,000 employees in 91 countries. He will be replaced in April. “I have never experienced a crisis like this,” says Brudermüller. “My God, what's going on?” The statement was interrupted immediately after a meeting with Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck. Brudermüller also reports on the price of his career. From his other family. Children whose upbringing he often missed at crucial stages. “If only because as a normal person you can no longer spend what you earn.”

From prison to capitalism

The trained psychologist goes by the name Sigrid Nikutta since 2020 and has been CEO of Deutsche Bahn Cargo since 2020, responsible for 30,000 employees. She is also a mother of five children. “Keep your eyes open when choosing a partner!” he suggests. And he admits: “You don't become the boss of a store like this unless you're also a big alpha male – men and women are no different.” Initially, he wanted to become a prison psychologist. prisoners better people. He realized: “My contribution to change is too small – I focus on the economy.” From prison to capitalism, also a remarkable career path.

“I mostly suppress my emotions”

Perhaps there are similarities in the world behind and in front of bars. “I always only see a filtered reality,” admitted E.ON CEO Leonhard Birnbaum. Every time you visit every location of an energy company, you do everything you can to present a good image to your boss. During fitness training, he lets himself be filmed. Sweating. The face is deformed. “You only get better at the limit,” he says. Then the camera follows him into steep-faced mountains to climb. “People want to see an optimist as their boss,” confirms a man who also wants to achieve great things in his private life. However, he often seems to be faking, acting, and lying about his optimism. Because just a little later, very remarkable sentences came out of the top manager's mouth: “You have to be able to suppress your emotions. Every time I have to think to myself, “If I say what I really think, it might make me feel better, but will it benefit my business, will it benefit my cause?” says Birnbaum. “Honestly, I suppress my emotions most of the time.”

“How do they survive there?”

When it comes to the ongoing bureaucracy problem, even at the top of the economy, you no longer have to suppress your emotions. The ARD team accompanies boss Daniel Grieder. “What is happening now with the bureaucracy, especially in Germany – they are trying to legislate everything. It's a killer! How does a small company do this, how do they want to survive?' And E.ON's CEO Birnbaum also confirms: 'It can no longer be managed!' He describes it with an example. E.ON is required to collect certain data that is “incredibly complex,” he adds. “And then I asked who gets it? The network operator. We get our data. And what do we do with it? We don't do anything with it.”

Money? “Less than good Bundesliga footballer”

Birnbaum also talks about money, i.e. yours. In his opinion, the salary is very reasonable. “I work harder than most people imagine. I have personally made more sacrifices than most people can imagine. When I look at my salary, I think it is reasonable. I earn significantly less than a good Bundesliga footballer.

“I can't push it away!”

Bitterstoff is contributed by (former) Audi boss Markus Duesmann. The camera also goes with him. He also proudly shows his company. Then the documentary shows the titles. The fall of the top executive. Film “Tagesschaust”: “Audi boss Duesmann must go!” The viewer saw him with his hands firmly on the steering wheel of his Audi. The viewer saw him in a familiar conversation with Lars Klingbeil, the federal chairman of the SPD. The viewer sees him after his resignation. “It took a few days,” he sums up his coping phase, “I'm only human – I can't push it away. This is my dream job, which I'm now handing over.” He's been working for this position for decades, as Lars Klingbeil said on camera just now in a conversation with Duesmann: “It's become more human—leadership in business and politics is changing.”

“We have to do things fundamentally differently!”

By the way, the final word goes to BASF boss Martin Brudermüller, who also says goodbye to his position: “I am German. I love my country. I tried to do my part. We are a little out of step. We need to do some things fundamentally differently.