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Lord Alan Sugar on the new series of The Apprentice

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Fiona Wickham Fiona Wickham | 11:00 UK time, Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Lord Sugar, could you tell us how the candidates were recruited for series six of The Apprentice? How involved you were in the process?

As always, aspiring candidates were encouraged to apply via the BBC website. The most impressive applicants are then invited to the interview process at which point we are always able to sift out the chancers and wannabes.

I always look at the final CVs and scrutinise every one. Ultimately one of these candidates will eventually have to join my organisation and that is something I take extremely seriously.

Lord Alan Sugar

What was your favourite moment of series six?

There are some great moments in this series but a particular favourite of mine was the international task where they will have to sell crisps to the Germans, who, let's just say, have a very particular taste preference.

What was the worst moment of all the series?

It's never good when candidates who are experienced in a particular field end up under-performing in a task that lends itself to their apparent skill set. This happens during the new series and it really gets on my wick.

What advice would you have for 16-year-old business GCSE students - should they continue studying business or crack on and get a job?

There is no right or wrong route to success. The academic route isn't for everybody, but that isn't to say all 16-year-olds should pack in their school work. I left school with no qualifications and went on to achieve great things in business, but courses for horses, as they say.

You've said that Philip Green would be too far out of his comfort zone to succeed at the challenges you set the candidates...

I am certain that if you took any of our country's most successful businessmen and put them in a factory, having had no sleep and told them to make sausages and then sell them on a market stall, they would fail.

The Apprentice is all about taking people out of their comfort zones and seeing how they perform. Even Philip Green has an Achilles heel, I'm sure!

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Do you enjoy watching the finished TV show or does it wind you up?

Yes absolutely, it's the first chance I get to see how they actually performed on a task as opposed to relying on reports from Nick Hewer and Karren Brady. Some of the mistakes they make are laughable.

Have you ever privately changed your mind over firing a candidate and wished you'd kept them in for an extra week?

I have never regretted a decision, but yes, there are some candidates that perhaps should have stayed in the process for a longer period.

Have you ever spotted a kindred spirit in a candidate - someone who reminds you of yourself?

I'm cut from a different cloth and have yet to meet a candidate that is a replication of me, but there are certainly candidates in the past who have shown flashes of me when I was younger.

What are you most proud of about The Apprentice's success - especially since it hasn't been matched in the US Apprentice?

I'm proud of how far we've come. From being considered a somewhat niche programme on BBC Two to being recognised as one of BBC One's highest rating shows really is no mean feat.

We are now on our sixth series and looking forward to seventh so we've proven what a successful format The Apprentice can be when fronted by Lord Sugar as opposed to Donald Trump.

Lord Sugar is a respected businessman and entrepreneur and star of The Apprentice.

The Apprentice is on BBC One and BBC HD on Wednesday, 6 October at 9pm.

To find out times of future programme times, please visit the upcoming episodes page.

Fiona Wickham is editor of the BBC TV blog.


  • Comment number 1.

    The Apprentice - oh dear, I hope this program will not be sold overseas as a beacon of the future of British Industry. The program starts tonight but looking at the line up on the bbc website you could have mistaken it for those with a minimum of 15 years at her majesty's pleasure. I am sure Lord Sugar has less and less to say as to who eventually gets picked for what used to be a premier, positive program, and it is the expolsive mix of personalities that the production company concentrate on to make a 'show' that has nothing to do with the best Britian has to offer.
    I think we are in for a high level of 'entertainment' but an aweful lot of fireworks, incredulous decision making and base human behaviour; and certainly not a lot to do with the best of British Industry. If I was pushed for a prediction on the faces alone, I would say Liz Locke, Stella English, Joanna Riley have a hope with Jamie Lester and Joy Stefanicki as an outsider. On the other end of the scale come Stuart, Raleigh, Melissa, Chris and Alex - possibly all the rest.
    Poor Lord Sugar. As the interview process for this series was over a year ago and they are 6 months behind in the screening, I wonder what really happened?
    Good Luck to all.

  • Comment number 2.

    For "Pick the best amateur" programmes I'm going to stick to MasterChef - at least there you see some genuine talent at doing something that benefits everybody!

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    There is one new contender who bears an uncanny resemblance to the
    fashionable young lady with the bright lipstick who took part last
    time. THIS TIME she wears no noticeable make-up, has grown her
    blonde hair to neck length, (no headgear) but she has the very same
    eyes and expression. I notice that she was kept in low profile in the new show and I did not hear her say anything. But I am feeling unhappy
    that this could be a confidence trick ??? Is it the same girl I
    wonder ? She certainly had the brains to do it. I wonder ???

  • Comment number 5.

    I eagerly await to see the first episode of the new series of the Apprentice (recorded). I agree that some of the characters are somewhat useless, but it's all part of the entertainment.

  • Comment number 6.

    Can someone on the BBC please explain to me why the girls won the task last night? While I understand that the Apollo team's absolute profit was £15 higher than Synergy's, they spent considerably more. My "back of the fag packet" calculations show that the Apollo team's return on investment was 60% whereas the Synergy team's return on investment was a whopping 106%. I don't doubt that a businessman with the aptitude of Lord Sugar also recognises this as a better result, so why is the BBC patronising its public by downplaying what is really not such a difficult concept?

  • Comment number 7.

    Slightly irritated by the question "What are you most proud of about The Apprentice's success - especially since it hasn't been matched in the US Apprentice?" as it's basically not true....

    The US Apprentice is a very successful show and is still going strong - I was watching the US Celebrity version when I was in Canada earlier this year. True - it's a very different show - typical tasks tend to be creating new marketing campaigns for Nike or Coca-Cola, whereas in the UK version it's designing new posters for Sid's discount shoes or the local dog track......

    The US version doesn't get great viewing figures over here because the BBC shows it at half past midnightand doesn't advertise it (afraid perhaps that it makes the BBC version look a bit lame ?)

    Don't get me wrong - I love the UK version too. Different country but same egotistical nut cases ....

  • Comment number 8.

    To No. 3, "Haley"

    The music used for the trails of this year's Apprentice is sung by Tony Bennett called "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams" here's the track in question http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAW-BUtTmyc

  • Comment number 9.

    L O R D S U G A R

    Y O U

    A R E

    F I R E D.

  • Comment number 10.

    Lord SugarPuff, the telly peer...a respected businessman? Best joke I've heard in years!

  • Comment number 11.

    @Yummiecakemaker - Fair point, as far as it goes. But what about if you look at return on amount available to invest? Presumably both teams had the same amount available to them. So if the boys had spent more and sold more, then they could have clinched the win. (On the other hand, of course, they might just have ended up with unsold stock...)

    I think a case can be made for absolute ROI and percentage ROI as a measure of success. A small company may offer a small absolute ROI but be able to satisfy a small number of investors with a high percentage ROI, whereas a large company may well be able to satisfy a large number of investors with a relatively small percentage ROI as long as the absolute size of the ROI is big enough to give them a fair dividend.

    In any case, both teams knew what the rules of the game were and it was up to them to devise their strategy accordingly.

  • Comment number 12.

    I love the UK apprentice, I watched all the series 1 - 6 over and over, on you tube, on my computer, even I managed to get it on my iPod. I watched the US version only once and 2-3 episodes, enough to decide not to continue. The UK version looks more realistic, the US one is more like watching a film, staged ? The board room in UK version is much better, lively because it has whitish background, unlike the US version that looks like a dracula's cave: dark in every corner.

    In case of sir Alan ... lord sugar now, I like his personage in the series. he looks more down to earth and "street market" people (thus know how it is going on the street). The facts that he started his bussiness from zero (in compare to Donald Trump who is a son of a rich bussinessman), may make him having different way of looking things during the apprentice processes.

    OK, now about this new season. Why I got the feeling that the candidates are much more "sophisticated"? Previous seasons are full of drama, well that's one of the attractive points to watch. The program is about bussiness but, still it is a TV program. I miss Margaret very much, but Karen is doing pretty well indeed. I like her comments reminding the candidates that they are representing women in the bussiness world. Very well said, agree with lord Sugar. By the way, looking back when Karen was assisting the interview in the past few series: she lost weight ? :D

  • Comment number 13.

    I found myself irritated, but also amused, by the steady stream of grammatical flaws from the latest person to be booted off: manoeuvrement? professionality? ...they will be retributed??? But I think the other flaws were more salient :)

  • Comment number 14.

    Definitely one of the most heated boardroom exchanges i've witnessed, and for me Alex was definitely the reason that potential sales were lost, as it was agreed at the beginning of the task that his extensive knowledge of both retail sales, and location were invaluable, and that for myself, was absolutely key, and the fact that he talked himself up, and failed so miserably, I would have fired him as a consequence of his own actions.
    I am not a Perloma fan, however she demonstrated that not only is she smart, but moreover she is a team player, and able to listen to the comments and suggestions of her team mates, and with what her team had in terms of merchandise, I think they did exceptionally well, as result of her motivational skills, and I on't think 1 of the team members said that she was an inept team leader, and whilst I think she is firey, I think she would have served Sir Alan well, however relative to the ultimate decision, that's why Sir Alan has amassed a 3/4's of a billion pound fortune. It's like anything one has done for 40 years, in that you develop an instinct for making the right decisions.
    But I really think Liz is a dark horse, who is very adaptable, and dare I say it, she has a face that I think would fit snuggly within Sir Alans' jigsaw vast jigsaw puzzle.

  • Comment number 15.

    I must confess, I have been a fan of 'The Apprentice' from the outset, and not only do I love the 'format', but I think some of Sir Alans' comments, and Nicks' quizical looks are just tv platinum, and to watch, apparently very bright and intelligent young men and women buckle under the intense pressure also makes for very engaging viewing, as that is also a part of the process, and in my humble opinion, I think maybe we see much of candidates reverting to 'type', when under great pressure.
    All in all i'm addicted, and cannot wait until next Wednesday.

  • Comment number 16.

    Last episode mostly about a trip to German Germany to sell them our crisps, and being alert to background music chosen for the key scenes, I was disappointed that for the very first German scene the music chosen was Vivaldi (from the Four Seasons), very Italian!. Later on there was another opportunity to underline the fact that it was a poignantly German occasion in German Germany and the music chosen this time was Fingal's Cave (Hebrides overture), a very Scottish connotation indeed, albeit written by Mendelssohn, who was German by all means, but hey, what an opportunity missed to tap into the widest possible library of music with the widest imaginable palette available to all. They could have used "sunrise" from Gotterdammerung or any of Bruckner's scherzi or a clip from Haydn's Surprise Symphony or something from Richard Strauss or even Bach. The list is endless,but BBC chose to be totally obtuse and musically illiterate enough not to use any purely German music al all. Would you Adam and Eve it. Hey Ho!

  • Comment number 17.

    I like watching the boardroom arguments in the second half of the show, they are very telling and more often than not you see the "true colours" of the people fighting for their survival. I have agreed with most of the firings but the reason given when Sandeesh was fired for not being aggressive enough was not a valid reason to fire her. The person I like the least is Joanna, she comes across as totally ruthless and will walk across everyone for what she wans, and for that reason alone I suspect Lord Sugar will keep her till the end. I hope not.

  • Comment number 18.

    I really very much enjoy this program and learn a lot .Thank you very much to Lord Sugar and BBC. But I couldn't understand that Stella told a lie when they bought something in london .I could not believe that many of people like Lord Sugar really appreciate her albeit before that task I did as well.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    mr sugar brilliant a real inspiration and comes across to me a a decent bloke


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