The Apprentice – Let the boardroom battle commence! From Wednesday 26 March 2008 at 9pm on BBC One
Multi-award-winning series The Apprentice is back for a 12-week run on BBC One at 9pm on Wednesday 26 March, as no-nonsense, self-made millionaire Sir Alan Sugar returns to challenge a new group of 16 aspiring tycoons, who will battle it out in the toughest challenge of their lives.
The candidates lined up for series four include: a barrister, a bank manager, a risk manager, an ex-Army engineer, a single mother, an international car trader, an artist, a former championship show jumper and a business liaison manager with royal connections.
The new series raises the business bar, with more twists and turns than ever before.
The demanding weekly challenges will see the teams sweat it out running rival laundrettes and competing pubs. They will create a new perfume, design a new greeting card, invent a new ice cream flavour and sell wedding dresses.
There's a tough international buying task which sees the candidates fly to Morocco, in an attempt to barter with the canniest salesmen in the world.
Twenty thousand CV's were received from applicants around the UK – more than any other series before. The competition is stiff, as these ambitious business hopefuls are all successful in their chosen careers and hungry to reach the top.
Rivalry is rampant as all the candidates are desperate to walk away with the coveted prize of a six-figure salary and the opportunity to work for one of the most successful business moguls in the world.
With trusted aides Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford at his side, from the opening boardroom briefing Sir Alan makes it clear exactly who's in charge:
"One of you is going to end up working for me on a six-figure salary, but I'll tell you what, the money doesn't mean anything. I've been in business for over 40 years. Your prize is working with me."
However, the boss has a trick up his sleeve as he surprises the wannabe apprentices in episode one.
Thinking they are about to head off to relax in their new luxurious pad – a 7,000 square foot, multi-million pound, gated converted glass factory – with a glass of champagne and a glimpse of the high life, Sir Alan plays the first wild card of the series:
"This is a business boot camp. Mary Poppins I am not. I'm not going to hold your hand, I'm not going to tell you what to do. You're on your own two feet. You might think you're going off now to settle in. Well you're not. Business starts now."
They may be suited and booted for the boardroom, but Sir Alan wants them to get stuck in by sending them out on their first task immediately. It's boys versus girls as each team is given two van loads of fresh fish and told to flog it all before their boardroom deadline at 7.00pm that evening.
Dressed head to toe in overalls and rubber boots, not only will the candidates be responsible for selecting a suitable market and pitch, they will also have to identify and correctly price the selection of fish.
Both teams are thrown in at the deep end and are desperate to prove their worth. They want to avoid a boardroom showdown at all costs to escape hearing Sir Alan's immortal catch phrase "You're Fired". This is the job interview from hell.
The Apprentice: You're Fired! on BBC Two will also be making a welcome return immediately after the main show and is hosted again by Adrian Chiles. Each week the fired candidate is interrogated by business experts and a studio audience of viewers.
In addition to You're Fired, four hour-long specials will air throughout the series, including a candidate profile show on the finalists and Why I Fired Them, which will look back on the previous candidates who were on the receiving end of Sir Alan's wrath in the boardroom.
As well as this, two new shows will air. The Apprentice: Worst Decisions Ever looks back at the most outrageous, embarrassing and ultimately cringe-inducing decisions made by ex-candidates in previous series – including Syed Ahmed's "100 chickens" fiasco from series two and Paul Callaghan's daft decision to sell mass-produced English cheese to the French.
Worst Decisions Ever covers all the cock-ups, bad moves and mistakes which have had viewers jumping off their sofa and screaming at the TV.
The Apprentice: Motor Mouths revisit's the most outspoken, opinionated personalities from the previous three series and looks back at their most infamous stand-offs with their fellow candidates and Sir Alan himself.
Who can forget series two's Ruth "The Badger" Badger or cheeky Leeds lad Paul Tulip? And perhaps the ultimate of all the loud-mouths, Saira Khan from series one, whose upfront manner often landed her in trouble, but did eventually win her a place in the final. Love them or hate them, these candidates won't be forgotten.
The Apprentice online is back and web users can access exclusive content and features designed, developed and managed by FremantleMedia's interactive division to give a truly cross-platform experience.
The site will provide a full service, delivering fans the opportunity to keep up and delve deeper into the show with news and images, plus exclusive behind-the-scenes video clips, delivered both online and on mobile.
Each week bbc.co.uk/apprentice will offer breaking news, video interviews, previews, teaser and highlight clips from the show coupled with the chance to view exclusive behind-the-scenes content and extended footage that producers couldn't fit into the BBC One show, keeping fans completely up-to-date.
The Apprentice is a talkbackTHAMES production for BBC One. Executive producer is Michele Kurland and series editor is Kelly Webb-Lamb.