10 years after appearing on the first series of The Apprentice, I still get asked about my experiences on the program and why I’m not a fan. I’m not sure I’ll ever be free of the program! The short answer is that what viewers see and what really happens is as far apart as can be. Sadly, that just opens a can of further questions 🙁
So, in no particular order, here’s the long form answer…
- The boardroom.
It’s not Lord Sugar’s boardroom, it’s a film studio in West Acton. In the first series, Lord Sugar’s offices in Brentwood were never seen!
- Candidates do not have free will.
When candidates are given a task, they only ever have a limited number of options. They don’t have the ability to take what they think may be the ‘best’ choice.
- Candidate selection.
Candidates are not chosen for ability or business acumen. Producers ‘profile’ them based on who will give them the widest appeal among potential viewers. In employment law, ‘profiling’ of this type could be illegal.
Progressing to the later rounds is not based on your ability in tasks. It’s based on how much candidates are willing to give the producers what they want. IE sniping, tears, argument, stupidity and so on.
Reality TV? Not really! What a candidate says in episode 3 will probably appear in between a sentence in episode 1 as a voice over if it fits the story Producers want you to see.
- Creative TV!
Each one-hour episode has over 160 hours of filming. That mean’s Producers have all the room they need to create the story they want. Imagine how much of the truth you don’t see!
- Reality TV not so real!
Producers know the outcome of the final before they start editing the footage. They work back from the outcome to tell the story want to represent which is very different to what really happened.
Lord Sugar’s advisors are normally only around 10% of the time. 90% of the time, it’s the producers, who have no business acumen, that provide feedback to Lord Sugar.
- Being fired
The walk to the taxi after being fired is filmed before the first task with every candidate having to act as if they have been fired. Producers demand that candidates wear the same clothes to each boardroom. When they do not, they have to wear a large coat to cover their clothes!
- A 12-week interview
It’s 12 tasks, but filmed in the space of 6 weeks. The next task normally happens a day or two after the previous one.
- Little Brother
Candidates are shut away in a house during the filming for 6 weeks. They do not have access to their phones or any way to communicate to the outside world or family.
Candidates are not allowed to call home or their family other than one call a week which is recorded and listened to by the producers. So when you see candidates stressed, it’s probably more to do with not being able to speak to their family than the tasks!
- Several Takes
There are always several-takes during filming when meeting someone, getting in the cars, getting out of the cars, pulling up, going into the house, leaving the house, nodding of heads, making facial expressions, things that have been said. Recordings are not always spontaneous.
- Producers eave drop on everything.
There is no privacy. Candidates have to wear microphones all the time – whether being filmed or not. It’s easy to forget. Producers listen to everything and will use whatever they can.
- The camera never lies?
From experience, the only guarantee I can give it that the camera does lie on The Apprentice. Want an original example? Look back at the first series when I was in front of Paul McKenna. My speech was edited so much that it appeared I was so star struck in front of (my hero?!!) Paul McKenna that I could not get a word out!
In the first series, most candidates wanted to win, but only 2 out of the 14 wanted the job. They were the two that ended up in the final! Coincidence?
- The Final
Producers film both candidates winning the competition to ensure news of the actual winner does not surface. The finalists have to act out winning and losing.
- Lord Sugar’s Chair
Lord Sugar has been blessed with a lot of things, but not much height. In order to ensure he is not dwarfed by his advisors in the boardroom, his seat is placed on a specially constructed board.
- Cheating is no barrier to success
The rules around what you can and cannot do on a task are very tight. However, if you are caught breaking the rules, fear not, you are more likely to get progressed to the later stages than thrown out. Producers are also not averse to telling you what the other team are up to if they think it will give them what they want.
- Apprentice Pay
It’s a measly £2000 for appearing on the show. That means it’s probably more profitable to be fired on the first task – not many would knock £2,000 for a day’s effort!
- Looking for investment?
You are 100 times more likely to get investment for your business from me than from Lord Sugar and you won’t have to give away anywhere near half of your business!