The shocking truth about The Apprentice

THE Apprentice has returned to the BBC, and as viewers watch the hopefuls in a gruelling battle to win over Lord Sugar, it’s worth remembering their reality is even worse than it seems. 

The hit BBC show gives contestants the chance to bag a whopping £250,000 investment from Alan Sugar, but the journey toward the cash is a crushing one. 

Lord Sugar and Karren Brady’s taxing challenges are known for testing even the most hardened entrepreneurs. However, some people struggle more than others. 

Sugar exiles those hopefuls who are most in need of his help, as he famously proclaims at the end of each episode: “You’re fired”. 

But what’s the reality of the experience like beyond what viewers get to see on the small screen? 

Contestants shared jaw-dropping behind the scenes views of the series, including draconian sex bans and enforced silences. 

Pre-filmed exits 

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To ensure continuity, the exits of competitors are captured before they begin.Credit to BBC

Those sorry scenes where fired candidates wheel their suitcases out of Sugar’s office into an awaiting black cab are actually shot before the competition begins. 

Taking to Twitter, Claude Littner revealed they’re asked to wear coats and scarves for the sake of continuity. 

He wrote, “All firings are completed before the show begins. They are done. ‘continuity’ not to show that the clothes are not those worn when fired”.

Sex ban

Candidates are monitored closely so they don't get frisky with each other

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To ensure that candidates don’t get too sexy with each other, they are closely monitoredCredit to BBC

The show’s bosses don’t want romance or lust getting in the way of serious business like it has done in the past, when candidates would get frisky in the shared mansion. 

According to a source, the Mirror was told by: “Couples would suddenly ­disappear and there were several times they’d be found upstairs under the covers, kissing”.

Lord Sugar has since announced the show “isn’t Love island”, tasking staff with monitoring the entrepreneurs much more closely than before.  

Take off 

Contestants are only allowed one call a day with a pre-approved person

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A contestant can only make one call per day with a pre-approved personCredit to BBC

Contestants are denied access to the internet during the process to make sure they can’t get up to any shady dealings. 

They’re also permitted just one short call per day with a pre-approved person who has signed a non-disclosure agreement, and on top of that all letters are vetted. 

Lottie Lion explained that by the time she left, there was no way she knew that Theresa May had not been Prime Minister anymore or that Meghan Markle had given Archie his birth.

On TikTok, she added: “My nana used to write me letters and there would be large sections blanked out”. 

18-hour work days and enforced silences

Candidates are forced to sit in silence for hours at a time

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Candidates are required to remain silent for long periods of time.Credit to BBC

2015 winner Joseph Valente revealed that candidates work exhausting 18-hour days and that they’re banned from speaking to each other unless the camera is rolling. 

The dad-of-one said they’d be in silence for hours before going into the boardroom waiting area, only to sit without talking for a further few hours until the receptionist called them in. 

The receptionist announces: “Lord Sugar will see you now”, isn’t actually a real receptionist but an actress – currently Ashley Young. 

Secret scripts

Lord Sugar may or may not come up with his own hilarious one-liners

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Lord Sugar may come up with his own hilarious onelinersCredit to BBC

Lord Sugar isn’t responsible for his own witty remarks, according to Lottie, who has claimed: “They’re all scripted and he has a piece of paper and he marks them off as he says them”.

However, Ryan-Mark Parsons told a different tale on Twitter, writing: “Lottie’s allegations about The Apprentice are completely false”.

“Being at the receiving end of many of Lord Sugar’s jokes, I can assure you they’re not scripted”, he added. 

Insane timings

Candidates have less time per task than the public think

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Candidates spend less time on each task than the general public.Credit to BBC

Karren has previously admitted that filming takes only five weeks. This is why the sleepy candidates have to get up at dawn. 

“The task has to be set really early in the morning to give them enough time”, she said, adding that shooting often goes on until 10pm. 

The tough nut added: “The only few days they get off is when the interviews come… everyone is knackered by the end”. 

Frances Bishop also stated that time is very short for certain tasks, telling Radio Times: “The public thinks you are lazy.” [have] eight hours selling – in reality, you don’t because you have a camera crew with you, you’ve got to clear places for filming”.

Test-runs

Producers do dry runs of tasks to make sure everything will go to plan

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Produces conduct dry runs to ensure that everything runs according to plan.Credit to BBC

Produces conduct test runs before contestants are told about the next difficult challenge. 

Karren admitted: “They do a dry run to make sure tasks are possible – that you can go out and buy those items and how much you should be getting them for. There is an enormous amount of work that goes into each task”. 

Fake boardroom 

The boardroom is actually a set built to house everyone who needs to be in there

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The boardroom is actually an area that was designed to accommodate everyone who requires it.Credit to BBC

In reality, the boardroom, which is often feared, is actually a space that can house all those who need it. 

BBC reports: “The series director must work in a gallery to properly set up the cameras and manage them without disrupting the proceedings.” Therefore it is not possible to film the boardroom scenes from Lord Sugar’s real boardroom”.

Raef was added: “The boardroom scene was effectively a film set. It’s always quite interesting, psychologically, I think”.

Every Thursday, The Apprentice airs at 9:00pm on BBC One.

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