Interview with Lord Sugar on The Apprentice

"The Apprentice: Best Bits" starts Thursday 1st October on BBC One and iPlayer



It’s been 15 years since the very first candidates made their way into the boardroom and now Lord Sugar, Baroness Brady and Claude Littner are looking back at the wheeler dealers, smooth salespeople, tough tasks and even tougher interviews in The Apprentice Best Bits.

The brand-new 6x60’ series, produced by Boundless (Part of Fremantle), will air weekly, starting from 1 October at 9pm on BBC One. The show will feature all of the highs and lows from series one to 15 of the beloved business show including the most memorable characters, their globetrotting antics in the foreign tasks and of course, those terrifying interviews. From the unforgettable successes to the squirm-inducing failures, no stone will be left unturned.

Lord Sugar will of course be on hand to lend his own take on events with his inimitable plain-speaking style, while trusted advisors Baroness Brady and Claude Littner will also be sharing their thoughts on the candidates’ antics, trials and tribulations in the series’ so far.

Lord Sugar - Q&A

Why do you still love doing The Apprentice?

What motivates me is going back to my old days of starting a business from scratch. I love that idea of keeping my hand in and proving it can be done. It’s enjoyable - simple as that.

What do you think is the secret behind The Apprentice’s success?

We have got beautiful photography, a great production team and an audience that is forever growing. Someone who was 2-3 years old when the series started is now 18. That is our new audience. The show inspires young people.

Has it been nice to go down memory lane for this new ‘best bits’ series?

Yes, it was a clever idea and it has been very enjoyable to recap on all those episodes over the years.

Let’s talk about the first episode focusing on the best characters…

We sat down and looked at which outstanding characters we needed to bring in. Paul Torrisi rolled straight off my tongue! Ruth Badger was another one. In later years, we had last year’s candidate Thomas Skinner. If you sit down and think about it, there have been some great characters.

Do you find yourself personally warming to some of them?

Yes, you do warm to people even though they possibly don’t have a chance of winning the process. It’s all part and parcel of the deal.

Has your decision-making changed over the years?

If you recall initially, the prize was to work for me. After series six, I said it wasn’t working out properly because it was very difficult to find a position for someone where there weren’t any positions available. I changed it to going into partnership with a winner and that has been very successful. What we are looking for is business acumen - either someone who has got a good idea, is a grafter and who I can teach them about the business side or someone who has business nous but needs guidance on other aspects of business.

Which tasks make the candidates stand out in terms of how good they are?

The tasks are designed to see a person’s organisational qualities, sales technique, presentation ability, creativity and logistical qualifications. You’ve got all those elements - that’s what all the tasks are about and what I am looking for.

What have been your favourite foreign tasks?

The foreign tasks are one of the things that make the programme exciting for the candidates and viewers. Last year, they went to South Africa. It was a great task and it was to celebrate 15 years of the Apprentice. It was one of my favourite tasks.

Do you enjoy the interview stage?

Yes but don’t bother to mess with your CV! The last five people go into the interview process and the purpose is for those to go through their business plans with my experts. We need to do a deep dive on the final five.

Which Apprentice winners have stood out for you?

They are all very different and they are all great people in their own way. You’ve got Tom the inventor, who is not a businessman but he has been made into one and he is great. You’ve got Dr Leah who now has three clinics and she has done very well. Ricky Martin has done exceptionally well in the recruitment industry too. My latest winner, Carina, has just opened up her second bake house and so she is doing well.

Which celebrities have stood out on the specials over the years?

The last one I did was with Omid Djalili and he was very funny. Rylan was also very good in it. But I leave it to the producers to pick the celebrities. They are professionals in their own right and they are busy. They have to give up 3-4 days of their work to do it and so it’s quite a big ask.

You’ve also done a junior version…

Yes, it was my idea to do a junior version. The kids were so clever. We did it for three years on the trot and we won a Bafta award for it and another one for the original version.

Let’s talk about Karren and Claude. How do you get on?

We are all good friends and we’ve been friends for years. It’s not a case of how we get on because we get on fantastically. Karren and Claude are great.

Do you know who is going to win the first time you see the candidates?

The answer is absolutely not. Some start off and they are very impressive and then he/she goes off a bit and then someone else starts to rise and the cream starts to rise to the top. The process is brilliant because you can start to see people who have got a good brain understand what they have got to do.

If you were entering this as a young business entrepreneur, what would you be doing?

Winning! There is no question of it!

What advice would you give the 2021 crop of candidates?

They don’t need any advice! They have to show me their business acumen and use their brains. Their CVs are padded out with all their achievements and we would like them to use their skills or grow with the process. As it goes along, you can see them growing and you can see them learning which is also very nice.

And finally, how long will you continue to be part of The Apprentice?

I said last year that I wanted to do 20 years. We would have been doing series 16 this year and I was happy to do four more. But of course it is the BBC who will decide if they wish to do it. I fully understand they are in charge but if they wanted to do it, I think 20 years is a nice round figure.

Source BBC One

September 22, 2020 6:56am ET by BBC One  


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