Interview with Claude Littner on The Apprentice: Best Bits



Claude Littner - Q&A

Did you enjoy going down memory lane for this new Best Bits series?

Yes. There have been so many great characters and individuals over the years. The idea and concept behind it is great given we can’t do the proper Apprentice this year.

Who have been some of your favourite characters?

I have got so many! Thomas Skinner last year was a super character. Everyone fell in love with Thomas because of his chivalry but apart from that, he was genuinely enthusiastic about every single task. And yet he set the team wrong every single time! Then you have great salesmen like Kayode. They had something about them where they were not frightened to go up to complete strangers, chat to them and sell them stuff!

Do you think the candidates are savvier nowadays given they do know what to expect from the process?

You would think they would know nowadays but it is quite amazing how some don’t know! The series has been going for 15 years but some have not even seen it! Then there are people who have watched every episode and know everything in minute detail but the fact is even if we say ‘look for nine items’, they will be different, the chemistry within the group is completely different and the outcome is different. Every bit is as competitive as it used to be in the early days. What I particularly admire is they all, without fail, try their best.

Which task do you really like?

I have to say the interview stage is the only time where they are on a one to one. They have got a business plan that they have put together with care. It’s very stressful because it is the first time they can’t hide behind anyone! It has got to the stage where they have a chance of winning. It’s the task where you can really see if you have a winner on your hands or an also ran.

You are the king of the interviews…

I have got competition from the others! We all bring something to the party. Nowadays I tend to concentrate on the business plan, the numbers and I want to make sure the plan is realistic. We all have in mind one thing and that is to be able to go back to Alan and say ‘we believe this person has a good business plan and a character you would work with who would make a success on your investment’.

You are very tough with them though…!

I am a lovely chap! I try to challenge them to see how they defend their business plan. Sometimes you are in sticky situations and you need to be able to manage yourself out of it. This is a chance to see how they can cope with adversity and being put under pressure.

You are, of course, famous for your one-liners during the interview stage! Do you deliberately prepare them before?

No! Very often, you are immersed in the interview, things happen - and it comes out particularly well or not so well which makes great TV!

Which foreign tasks have you enjoyed over the years?

My personal favourite was last year when it was in South Africa. I have been to visit a number of times and it is a wonderful place. I also liked the one where we went to Bruges, which was super. Elizabeth was one of the project managers and she was like a Sergeant Major! By the end, the people who had subscribed to her tour around Bruges were absolutely shattered! Also what is interesting about any of the tasks is they make the same mistakes every year. They are so absorbed by what they are doing they forget the whole idea is to try and sell the product as much as possible.

Why do you think The Apprentice has stood the test of time?

Alan plays it really well during the whole series. He does hold the thing together and he manages the process exactly right. There are times of stress, then there are lighter moments, and he has a great way of explaining why an individual went wrong. But the commitment everyone gives to making the programme the best they possibly can keeps it going as well as the characters themselves. This is an opportunity of a lifetime and they put themselves out there. And of course, there are comical moments where you just shake your head!

Can you share some other of your own personal funny moments?

Years and years ago there were two guys called Rory and Tre. Rory was the project manager and Tre was not going to take orders from him! Rory said ‘I am your boss’ and Tre said ‘you are not my boss, you are nothing to me’! These things must be 13/14 years ago and you still remember them! I love the characters. You also have some people who are super smart. Take Sarah Lynn who went on to win. She understood what was required and she had a good way about her. She had star character.

Do you enjoy doing the charity specials?

The celebrities put their heart and soul into it and the whole thing is great fun to be involved with. It is all for a wonderful cause and unlike The Apprentice where I am seen to not enjoy myself, on the charity programme you can’t help but get into the mood. It’s a great concept and executed perfectly.

And finally, what are your best tips for future contestants?

I think there is no easy path to winning The Apprentice. You are not always in control, sometimes you are in the losing team and it is not that you have done badly but you find yourself in the losing team. You have to just be yourself. And if you find yourself in the last three, you do have to stand up for yourself. That is the last chance to impress Alan and hope he doesn’t point the finger at you. I would say to anyone who wants to go on The Apprentice to do it. When you are going through the process, do the best you can and hopefully, the cream will go to the top and you will prevail. But it is still an opportunity of a lifetime even if you don’t win.

Source BBC One

September 22, 2020 9:05am ET by BBC One  


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