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It’s like Top Chef for geeks.

That’s the pitch from Microsoft for “Be the Next Microsoft Employee,” a new web series produced by Microsoft Learning, the part of the company that’s responsible for training and certification programs for people in the tech industry who use Microsoft technologies.

The show will debut online on Tuesday morning. It pits four veteran SQL Server gurus, selected from more than 100 applicants, in a series of head-to-head technical challenges designed to test their ability to develop business-oriented database solutions. A new episode, each about 13 to 14 minutes long, will be rolled each week until the winner is revealed in the finale on Aug. 21.

And yes, the person who prevails actually does win a job at Microsoft.

No, the reward is not quite on par with winning the Bachelorette, but we’ve gotten a sneak peek at the first show, and it could easily be mistaken for an actual television show. It’s definitely more exciting than we ever imagined SQL Server could be, with dramatic music and plot twists as the contestants present their work to a critical panel of judges.

Microsoft even put them up at a luxury waterfront home, where some of the behind-the-scenes filming took place, showing the contestants relaxing and getting to know each other before the competition begins.

The show was created by Mark Protus, a Microsoft veteran who came back to the company about a year ago to work in marketing for Microsoft Learning.

“We wanted to show the power of training, certification and preparation in a field like SQL Server,” he explained via phone today. “It can actually set you up with a career and really create a life.”

The show is presented in such a way that “you don’t have to be a SQL geek to get it,” he said.

The contestants are Alex Aguilar, of Phoenix, Ariz.; Chris Williams of Austin, Texas; Michael Kett of Winchester, Mass; and Stacy Luciani of Richardson, Texas. (Note: Spelling corrected.)

More info and previews on the “Be the Next Microsoft Employee” site.

Update, Tuesday morning: The first episode is now online.


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