The Apprentice’s behind the scenes secrets revealed

The Apprentice 2022: Lord Sugar, Boardroom, on the phone - (C) Naked - Photographer: Naked
The Apprentice 2022: Lord Sugar, Boardroom, on the phone - (C) Naked - Photographer: Naked

As The Apprentice’s latest series airs on BBC One, here’s a look at all the behind the scenes secrets of the show.

The new series is currently airing on Thursday nights and former contestants and show insiders have spilled all from behind the scenes…

There’s no access to the internet

Although candidates get phones, they can’t use the internet.

A spokesperson explained: “Candidates do not have access to the internet on their mobile devices unless it is required by the task (for example, if they are launching a website). The tasks set by Lord Sugar are there to challenge the candidates to exhibit the skills needed to set up and run a business.

“By limiting access to the internet and mobile phones, Lord Sugar is able to clearly assess candidates’ intelligence and practical skills, while also keeping the process fair.”

The Boys selling cheesecakes on The Apprentice's second episode
Tre, Jack, Virdi, Phil selling cheesecakes. Credit: BBC/Freemantle Media Ltd

There are no calculators either

The Apprentice candidate Jackie Fast previously revealed just how little help the candidates have in their tasks. The phones they’re provided with have been locked down so they can only be used to phone their teammates – they can’t even use calculator apps to help them with sums.

“In all fairness I found it challenging not having a calculator,” Jackie told the Daily Express newspaper after she was fired. “It’s such a stupid thing but you get really used to using your phone for loads of things including spellcheck. I mean they’re dumbing us down obviously.

“But with things of that nature, not having the calculator and internet and having it stripped down and having to rely on your actual knowledge is hard.”

Pre-filmed exits

Shots of the candidates leaving the boardroom and entering a taxi home are filmed in advance of anyone actually being fired.

The candidates are usually seen wrapped up in a coat and scarf as they give their exit interview – which is done after they leave – in order to provide continuity.

The Apprentice S16 - Ep2. Picture Shows: Conor, in taxi after firing
The Apprentice S16 – Ep2. Picture Shows: Conor, in taxi after firing. Credit: BBC

Lord Sugar’s regular right hand man Claude Littner shared: “All the firings are done before the show starts. They are wrapped up for ‘continuity’ not to show that the clothes are not those worn when fired.”

Task profits donated to charity

Ever wondered what happens to the money made on the tasks? A spokesperson previously revealed to the Radio Times: “Any profit made from the sale of products created in the programme is given to charity.”

That’s not Lord Sugar’s real boardroom

It’s perhaps not too surprising to learn that The Apprentice’s boardroom is really nothing more than a TV studio.

The BBC explains: “In order to make it possible to properly film the boardroom, where there are up to 23 people around a table, a lot of cameras are needed. In order to set up and manoeuvre those cameras properly without interrupting proceedings, the series director needs to work from a gallery.

“Therefore it is not possible to film the boardroom scenes from Lord Sugar’s real boardroom. They are filmed in a studio.”

The whole series is filmed in just over a month

Although the episodes air, weekly filming The Apprentice is a non-stop production that lasts little more than a month (at least in pre-pandemic times!)

The Apprentice S16 - Ep2 (No. 2) - Picture Shows: Karren Brady, reaction
The Apprentice S16 – Ep2 (No. 2) – Picture Shows: Karren Brady, reaction. Credit: BBC

“The whole of the series is crammed into five weeks. We’re back-to-back-to-back-to-back without a day off!” Karren Brady revealed to the Radio Times previously.

Candidates can easily find themselves working 4AM in the morning until gone 10PM at night.

“When you watch the Apprentice and it says it’s 4am, it really is 4am – the task has to be set really early in the morning to give them enough time,” Karen added, “The only few days they get off is when the interviews come […] everyone is knackered by the end – including me and Claude!”

The Apprentice continues Thursdays at 9PM on BBC One. You can watch episodes online and catch up via the BBC iPlayer.

Meanwhile applications for the show’s next series are open now.

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