The Workings of The Apprentice
Warning: this article contains spoilers about how the show is made
There is a web-based application form that is open to anyone. From that initial list, a number of candidates are invited to interviews around the country.
On the basis of the regional interviews, about 75 candidates are called back for a second round in London. At this stage, the candidates are assessed in groups, and asked to do various exercises to test their business skills and how they work in a team.
After this, around 30 candidates are assessed by a psychotherapist, references are taken and other checks made. It is from this group that the final line-up is chosen.
The tasks are designed by Lord Sugar and the production team, working closely together. They are carefully chosen to test the core business skills, including sales, marketing, design, teamwork and negotiation.
The production team, including all crew, is large. On each task there will be four crews filming (each with a producer and researcher) - one for each half of the two teams.
The shoot for Series 13 of The Apprentice took place during Spring 2017.
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.
Lord Sugar is not given a script of any kind for the boardroom. He is entirely in charge of what happens there. He does not wear an earpiece, so the production team cannot interrupt him or feed things to him in the boardroom. Everything he says and all the decisions he makes are his own.
For logistical filming purposes, the shots of the candidates entering their taxis are all filmed in advance of the candidates’ final boardrooms. However, their exit interviews in the taxi are filmed after they’ve each been fired.
Lord Sugar decides the winner on the basis of the final task, the boardroom, and their overall performance throughout the series.
He makes his decision on the day of the final boardroom meeting. As there is a gap between the shoot and transmission (to leave time for editing), measures are taken to ensure that the outcome is kept a secret for viewers prior to transmission.
Two endings are filmed in order to ensure that the winner is not revealed in advance. Lord Sugar does not tell the production team and the finalists about the identity of his new business partner until the day before the transmission of the final programme.