Image: "American Idol"
"American Idol" contestants.

Since its debut in the summer of 2002, FOX's "American Idol" has been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, a perpetual ratings leader and a consistent sensation. The show made stars out of such anonymous performers as Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and William Hung, and the series is slated to be on television at least through 2011. Millions of fans bow down to the American idols on "American Idol."

But if you're an entrepreneur, it's really the series more than the stars you should be bowing down to. After all, it's an enterprise disguised as entertainment -- it's a business model that many of us would do well to emulate. Skeptical? Then take a look at the notes we've been taking during the series' super successful run. Just think of this as a class -- American Idol 101.

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