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The Apprentice
Sir Alan Sugar, his aids Margaret Mountford and Nick Hewer and the apprentices

Who wants to be a billionaire?

The Apprentice comes to BBC TWO on Wednesday 16 February at 9.00pm



Introduction


Burning ambition meets the school of hard knocks in the hotly anticipated, brand new BBC TWO series which gives viewers an exclusive insight into the cut-throat world of business.


In The Apprentice 14 young high-fliers, shortlisted from thousands, will battle it out through a gruelling selection process and compete for a £100,000, year-long job with self-made tycoon Sir Alan Sugar.


The candidates are from varying backgrounds - from property developer to charity fundraiser, from headhunter to hotel manager - and range from MBA graduates to some who left school without qualifications.


The 14 candidates face the biggest challenge of their lives - a 12 week job interview.


Each week their ambition, business flair and their wits will be tested to the full as they compete in business tasks set by Sir Alan.


The candidates will be divided into teams and the team that wins the weekly assignment will be given a reward, but the losers must report to the boardroom for a showdown with Sir Alan who grills them on their mistakes.


One contestant is then singled out for the sack with the words they will all come to dread: "You're fired".


Sir Alan says: "Lots of people claim to be an entrepreneur and they're not. You can't learn to be an entrepreneur, I'm afraid to say. It's something that's in you…


"I don't want to blow my own trumpet but I'm looking for someone similar to me."


The American version of the show, first broadcast on NBC, captivated millions of Americans and coined the words "You're fired" as a national catchphrase.


No-nonsense Sir Alan, who is famous for his bluntness, says: "Never ever underestimate me because you will be making a fatal error.


"I don't like liars, I don't like cheats, I don't like bullshitters, I don't like schmoozers and I don't like arse-lickers."


Throughout the series the candidates will live together in a luxury eight bedroom mansion on the banks of the river Thames and experience a taste of the high life they aspire to.


The tasks continue until the last man or woman standing becomes Sir Alan's Apprentice.


Executive Producer Daisy Goodwin said: "Everything you need to know about buying, selling, negotiating, team playing and management is all here in this BBC TWO series - it's not just great entertainment but a business education in miniature."


Jane Lush, BBC Controller of Entertainment Commissioning, said: "The stakes are high for all our candidates who are facing the biggest challenge of their lives.


"The Apprentice is a compelling and original entertainment format which makes the business world accessible to us all."


Sir Alan himself left school in Hackney aged 16 and started trading from a small council flat.


By the Eighties his Amstrad computer was a household name across Europe.


Thick-skinned and uncompromising, he became Chairman then hate figure at Tottenham Hotspur, but he's still their biggest single shareholder.


Now aged 57, Sir Alan is still at the top of his game with a global empire worth £700m.


Notes to Editors


A series of 12 shows of 60 minutes, The Apprentice is a Talkback production for BBC TWO. The executive producer is Daisy Goodwin and the series editor is Peter Moore.


The Apprentice is based on the hit series devised by Mark Burnett and broadcast in the US on NBC.


An Apprentice book, written by Sir Alan Sugar, will be published by the BBC on 10 February 2005 and gives practical advice on succeeding in the business world based on lessons learned in the series, case studies and summaries.


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