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Claude Littner returns to The Apprentice for the interview stages

Claude Littner - (C) Boundless - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Claude Littner - (C) Boundless - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Claude Littner is to return to The Apprentice 2022 for its interview stages.

This series has seen Tim Campbell replacing Claude who could not take part in much of the series because of medical reasons.

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Claude revealed last year how he was recovering from a nasty bike accident that forced him to miss filming of the latest series.

But he will return for the show's iconic interview stages next week on Thursday 17 March on BBC One and iPlayer.

Claude said: "Well, I’m back! But, just for the interview stage of the process. Obviously, there’s not a huge amount I can say without giving too much away but I just hope that when it airs next week, well I hope everyone thinks it was worth the wait.

"The whole team went to so much trouble to have me back. I had written off this series, but it would seem Lord Sugar and the production company had other ideas! I’ve had so many messages on social media too from viewers saying they hope I’m coming back for the interviews and how much they miss my smiling (!) but obviously I’ve not been able to say anything until now."

He added: "It was quite funny how it came about - Alan arrived at my house one day (although he phoned me almost daily!) and he just said, 'You will do the interviews, won’t you?' and I replied, 'Yes, of course'.

"The moment it came out of my mouth I was thinking, how on earth am I actually going to do it? The truth is, by the time it came to filming I was feeling better but the team had been so kind and gone to so much trouble so I could be involved."

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As for what the candidates can expect, Claude continued: "I have mellowed with age, but it’s important when we get to the interview stage that we really interrogate the finalists. By this stage in the process the candidates are, whilst apprehensive, full of confidence and they think they’re brilliant.

"The fact of the matter is, Alan is going to invest in one of these individuals, so it’s important to be thorough. It’s not like a traditional interview where you’re inviting them in to sit down and make themselves comfortable and ask if they want a cup of coffee - we’re there to put them on the spot and make them answerable."

He went on: "We’ve got a very short space of time to unpick the plans, understand if they can measure up to Alan’s standards, and most importantly, have they got a proposition that is investable? You can’t expect a mild-mannered, gentle interview because that’s not the idea. Very quickly, the interviewer has got to get to the core and uncover all these different elements.

"All that said, I also think the truth of the matter is that both the viewers and the general appetite for being really mean has changed. In this day and age, a change of approach is probably more appropriate, and I certainly don’t think I am as forthright as I once may have come across."

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As for whether or not Claude will be back for next year's series, Claude shared: "I certainly feel well enough to come back and am very optimistic, but the focus for the moment is about shining the spotlight on the remaining candidates in this series and finding the next successful business for Alan to invest in."

The Apprentice continues Thursday nights at 9PM on BBC One and iPlayer.

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