The Apprentice (British TV series)

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The Apprentice
The Apprentice (UK TV series)(title card).jpg
GenreReality game show
Created byMark Burnett
StarringAlan Sugar
Nick Hewer
Margaret Mountford
Karren Brady
Claude Littner
Tim Campbell
Narrated byMark Halliley
Theme music composerDru Masters[1]
Opening theme"Dance of the Knights" by Prokofiev
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series16
No. of episodes226 (including 28 specials)
Running time60 minutes
Production companiesTalkback (2005)
Talkback Thames (2006–11)
Boundless (2012–19)
Naked (2022–)
Mark Burnett Productions (2005–13)
United Artists Media Group (2014–17)
MGM Television (2018–)
MGM Worldwide Television and Digital Distribution
Original networkBBC Two (2005–06)
BBC One (2007–)
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
Original release16 February 2005 (2005-02-16) –
RelatedThe Apprentice (US version)
The Apprentice (Irish version)
The Apprentice: You're Fired!
Young Apprentice

The Apprentice is a British business-styled reality game show created by Mark Burnett, distributed by Fremantle and broadcast by the BBC since 16 February 2005. Devised after the success of the American original and part of the international franchise of the same name, the programme focuses on a group of businesspeople competing in a series of business-related challenges set by British business magnate Alan Sugar, in order to prove themselves worthy of a prize offered by him. To observe candidates as they undertake these tasks, Sugar is assisted by two close business associates who act as observers with little involvement in what is conducted – these roles are currently performed by Karren Brady and Tim Campbell.

Originally aired on BBC Two, its first series generated favourable viewing figures that led to the creation of a companion discussion show, The Apprentice: You're Fired!,[2] with further increasing figures after the second series leading to the programme being aired on BBC One to a much wider audience.[3][4] The success of The Apprentice has led to it receiving its own merchandising, including a magazine and official books,[5][6][7] along with one-off celebrity episodes for charity,[8] and a spin-off, Young Apprentice, which ran between 2010 and 2012.

The programme is a staple part of the BBC's television schedule, with the programme contributing a significant part to television culture, including parodies and imitations for comedy, as well as influencing the designs of other British-based business programmes, such as Tycoon,[9] and Beat the Boss.[10]


In March 2004, following the success of the first season of NBC's The Apprentice, FremantleMedia saw the possibility for creating an international franchise, and announced its intentions to create a British version of the programme under the same name and format. The company offered any British broadcaster the chance to secure the rights to the new programme, the most significant bids coming from the BBC and Channel 4.[11] Negotiations finished on the 1 April, when the BBC was announced as the new owner of the future programme after outbidding their rival.[12] This left the BBC with the task of finding a business personality to front The Apprentice.

The BBC made offers promising a potentially lucrative business opportunity to several business individuals, including Philip Green, Felix Dennis and Michael O'Leary, but each of their initial choices declined when approached.[13][14][15] On 19 May, Sir Alan Sugar agreed to present the twelve episodes of the programme that had been commissioned.[16][17] After the first series of the British version proved to be a success, Sir Alan signed on for subsequent series.[18][19]


Candidate selection[edit]

The show's initial stage, which is not filmed, focuses on open auditions and interviews held across the country; this stage searches for the candidates for a series before filming of it begins, which often attracts thousands of applicants.[20][21] A second round will usually be held in London for a small percentage of applicants, who divide into groups and are asked to do various exercises to test their business skills and to gauge how they work as a team. Following this, between 20 and 30 applicants are chosen and given an assessment by a psychologist, receiving further checks by the production team and providing them with references, before the final line-up is selected from this group and filming can begin.[22] The number of candidates who appear in a series has varied over the show's history, though the general arrangement is that each series always consists of a balanced number of men and women when it begins.


Once the candidates are selected, they are divided into teams and given a series of business-themed tasks – every series focuses on ten team-oriented tasks, with the exception of the seventh and eighth series where it was eleven. Each episode covers a single task, which is designed to test candidates on important business skills – salesmanship, negotiation, requisitioning, strategy, leadership, teamwork, and organisation. Before each task is given, the teams are briefed by Sugar over what kind of challenge they will be conducting, what rules they must adhere to during the timespan of the task, and the conditions for winning – an example of this could be that they must buy supplies on a limited budget, convert them into a product, and then sell their creation all within a single day, with the win determined on who makes the highest profit from their concept. Before a task begins, each team must assign a project manager (PM) to lead them, whose roles involves denoting each member's role on the task, tackle the important key decisions, and manage team members carefully to avoid potential friction and disruptions. The role of PM is mainly chosen by the team – the choice, decided on a vote, can be influenced by factors, the most common being a candidate's business background and its relation to the task, or the amount of confidence team members have in their selection – but at times, Sugar may appoint someone into the role, based upon his opinion of their performance in the process, their background, or, since the seventh series, their business plan. The briefing period of the episode is often used at specific points in the series to rearrange teams, as candidates are whittled down in the process, and is mainly done to either balance out the number, ensure a fair distribution of skills for a specific task, or to give less vocal candidates a chance to demonstrate their abilities.[23]

Each team is provided with two vehicles to use to get around during a task, and can only split into two sub-teams for each task; in some tasks, the candidates are given additional items to use to assist them, such as a shop space or a workshop. Although the teams are expected to work together, the competitive nature of the show means that candidates will often focus on their individual roles and needs rather than the greater good of the team, primarily to prove themselves worthy of winning the process and increasing their chances of making it into the Final of the series. During the execution of their task, each team is followed by one of Sugar's aides, who notes down their opinions, observations and thoughts for later reference in the boardroom, mostly on any noteworthy matters, such as performance, mistakes, and issues, minor or serious; while it is rare for them to intervene, they may do so if an issue arises in the team's actions that needs their attention.[24]


Once a task is finished, the candidates report back to Sugar at the "boardroom" – either following the task's completion, or the day after it has ended – to hear about feedback on their performance and learn the results of their endeavors. During team-based tasks, the process is played out in three stages in the following order – Results, Task Review, and Final Boardroom. Each stage is conducted in a different fashion, but follows a general format:[25]

  1. Result – Sugar and his advisers conduct an initial discuss with teams about their performance, and review what they did on the task – in tasks where a product, video marketing promotion, or branding is created, such items are provided in the boardroom for examination. During this stage, discussions take a look over feedback on the performance of candidates within their respective team, issues encountered, and any praise or criticism that needs to be addressed. After this initial review of performance is made, the results of the task are given out, in which the winning team advances to the next stage and receive a reward for their performance. After they leave, the losing team are dispatched to the "Losers' Cafe" to discuss amongst themselves over what factors contributed to their loss, before they must return for an in-depth review of their performance.
  2. Task review – The losing team are subjected to an extensive review of their performance in the boardroom, including open criticism of performance and/or contribution on the task. Candidates within the team are allowed the freedom to argue their cases for their respective performance and contributions, voice opinions about other members, and counter criticism if they feel it to be unjustified. After a period of discussion with each member, the appointed PM must then select two members of the team to return with them for a final boardroom discussion; a choice is not required if the team has only three members left in it. The choice made by the PM can be influenced by factors that they perceive about each member – these include responsibility for the team's loss, inexcusable mistakes, lack of contribution, and clash of personalities. Those not picked are free to return to the candidates' accommodation, while remaining members are sent outside to give Sugar and his aides time to discussion in private about the PM and other members in regards to concerning observations and doubts about each.
  3. Final boardroom – The PM and their two choices face a final discussion with Sugar and his advisers, which focuses on further in-depth analysis and criticism of their actions in a task, their performance throughout the process by that stage, their relationship with other candidates, and any criticism raised against them. Remaining members retain the freedom to argue their cases and also denote who amongst them should be fired from the process based on the reasons they feel justifies their dismissal. Sugar makes a final summary when he calls discussions to an end, relaying his personal thoughts on each member before him, before eventually making his decision on who is fired – the selected candidate, whom he gives his reasons for their removal, is pointed at and proclaimed eliminated with the words "You're fired!", a process that may be repeated if another candidate is deemed by him to have no further potential to continue in the process.[23][26] The surviving candidate(s) return to the candidates' accommodation, while the fired candidate(s) depart via a waiting taxi and taken on "home", conducting a brief interview to reflect on their elimination.

While the boardroom scenes differ for the Interviews and Final (see sections below), there are a number of exceptions in regards to the boardroom format after tasks, which can occur during this scene:

  • Candidate firing – Sugar can choose to fire a candidate at any time in the boardroom, if he deems it noteworthy. Thus a candidate could be fired during the first or second stage of the boardroom, rather than as a part of the final three.[23]
  • Reward – Sugar may withdraw the reward, if the winning team's performance on the task is considered to be too inadequate to his liking. In this case, they simply return to the candidates' accommodation after the results.
  • "Final three" selection – Sugar may opt to choose who returns for the final boardroom discussion, rather than let the PM make this choice themselves, while he can freely send someone back to the candidates' accommodation if he feels they do not deserve to return.


The Interviews stage of the process takes place as the penultimate step of the competition, in which the five remaining candidates in the competition each undergoes an individual set of interviews with a selection of trusted aides of Sugar; for the seventh and eighth series, this stage was assigned as the final step, and featured the four remaining candidate in each respective series' competition. The aim of this stage is to determine the suitability of the candidate for the prize being offered by Sugar.

In this stage, each interviewer questions the candidates over various matters, from their performance in the process, why they applied for the show, the content of their CVs, and any concerns about their personalities. Discussions often focus around brash or controversial statements that candidates have made on their CVs and application forms, with the interviewers determining whether such claims are truthful, exaggerated or deceitful. Since the seventh series, following the change of prize, the interviewers now question the candidates about their business plans, discussing the feasibility of the idea, how the candidate would go about setting up the business, and whether they have the temperament and skills to deliver the plan.

After candidates have been through their interviews, and Sugar has heard feedback from the interviewers, he conducts a boardroom session to discuss with the candidates over what he has learnt about them, as well as reviewing their performance on the tasks they undertook. Eventually, he will determine who he feels has potential to move on to the Final, with his decision usually resulting in three candidates being fired at this stage of the competition; there has only been one instance in the show's history where Sugar fired just one candidate, as the feedback from the interviewers during the third series' competition made it difficult to fire more than one.[27] For Series 7 and 8, where the Interviews was the final task, his decision determined who won the competition.


  Currently stars
  Previously starred
Interviewers[28] Series number
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Claude Littner
Mike Soutar
Claudine Collins
Linda Plant
Nick Hewer
Paul Kemsley
Karren Brady
Bordan Tkachuk
Alan Watts
Matthew Riley
Margaret Mountford
Ricky Martin


The final stage of the competition sees the finalists of the process compete against each other in one final task, with the outcome influencing Sugar's decision on who wins the current series' competition, though his choice is determined through a comparison of the two candidates, and is not influenced purely on how successful a candidate is in the final stage, but also other factors connected with them such as their overall performance in the competition, and the overall feedback he has received about them. Whereas in Series 7–8, the Interviews stage was the final task, prior to these series and after them, the task sees the finalists being able to form a team out of a selection of returning candidates that had been fired over the course of the competition, their choices affected by past experiences with them, how well they worked together, or if their skill set can help improve their chances of winning.

For Series 1–6, the final stage was a purely business-styled task, as a final test of a candidate's skill set and their suitability to the job being offered as a prize in these series. For Series 7–8, following the change of prize, the task primarily focused on determining how potential a candidate's business plan was for investment, via interviews.[29] Since the ninth series, the final task reverted to a similar format prior to Series 7, though was altered in that the finalists' task is to promote their business idea, presenting their proposed plan along with its brand identity to a group of industry experts. In all versions, the finalists eventually reconvene at the boardroom in which Sugar discusses with them over their performance, the feedback they got, and voices his final opinions of the candidates, Eventually, he declares his choice, proclaiming to the winner he points to with the words "You're hired!", at which point the winner departs in Sugar's limousine and conducts a brief victory interview, reflecting on their success in the competition.

While only two finalists ever reach the final stage, Series 4 featured four finalists, who were divided up into pairs, working as joint project managers respectively on the final task, with Sugar effectively firing the pair who performed poorly, and making his final decision on who won, between the candidates within the remaining pair.

The Board[edit]

Each boardroom session featured in the show consists of the same setup for "The Board", in the form of a panel that evaluates the performances of the candidates in the competition. Along with Alan Sugar (the "boss"), the panel consists of his two personal advisers, who are assigned to watch over the candidates during each task of the competition; to date, four people have operated as Sugar's advisers, of which two currently remain a part of the show in this respective role. The following details each member of the board:

  • Alan Sugar – The central figure of the show since the conception of the British adaptation of the American original, he was the BBC's finalised choice for the programme after their initial choices rejected the offer to head the show. Outside the boardroom, he arranges the tasks the candidates undertake, including arranging the location for the task briefing, which he may give either in person or indirectly via a recorded message, and in some circumstances may attend a task primarily to observe a team in terms of pitching. Inside the boardroom, he makes choices based on feedback, is able to overturn a result if he deems it wrong, withdraw a reward he has arranged if a team is not deserving, and ultimately determines which candidates are dismissed from the process.

For the first four series, the show made frequent references to his connection with Amstrad, the electronics company he founded, and originally called him "Sir Alan" in reference to his knighthood during that time. Since the fifth series, he is billed in the opening credits as controlling a "vast business empire",[30] following the sale of Amstrad and his departure from the company,[31][32] while he is referred to on the programme as "Lord Sugar", owing to a politically neutral appointment he had been offered around that time. Since the birth of the companion discussion show, Sugar appears on every You're Hired during the time when the winner of the series is being interviewed.

  • Nick Hewer (Series 1 to 10) – After Alan Sugar signed up for the programme, Hewer was brought in as one of his advisers, as he had closely worked with Sugar since being chosen to represent Amstrad in 1983.[33] He operated in his role on the main show, as well as on its spin-offs, including Young Apprentice, and acted as an interviewer during the initial series of the programme, appearing on You're Fired as a guest panellist. He remained with the show until he revealed on his Twitter page on 18 December 2014 that his tenth series would be his last, believing his departure on the show's tenth year was "the appropriate time".[34][35] His decision to leave was fully confirmed in the show's sister discussion programme, You're Hired!, following the broadcast of the final episode of Series 10.
  • Margaret Mountford (Series 1 to 5) – Alongside recruiting Hewer to work with him on the programme, Alan Sugar also recruited Mountford as his second adviser, having worked with her since she first met him while working as a partner for the law firm Herbert Smith, until March 1999.[36] She remained with the show until she announced in her column for the Daily Telegraph on 1 June 2009, that the fifth series would be her last, citing that her departure would allow her to devote more time to her studies, with the decision fully confirmed during her appearance on You're Hired, after the final episode of Series 5.[37][38] Despite departing from the role, she remained with the show for Series 6–9, acting as an interviewer for the Interviews stage of the competition.
  • Karren Brady (Series 6–present) – Following Margaret Mountford's departure from the role, Alan Sugar assigned Brady as his new adviser.[39] A notable businesswoman in her own right,[40][41] she had previously appeared on the show as an interviewer in the fourth and fifth series, and as a team leader for Comic Relief Does The Apprentice in 2007, where she led the team of celebrity women to victory while raising over £1,000,000 for charity on the spin-off programme. Her first appearance in the role was on Young Apprentice before the sixth series of the main show, and she regularly appears as a guest panellist on You're Fired!.
  • Claude Littner (Series 11–15) – Primarily assigned as an interviewer on the show since its conception, he was appointed by Alan Sugar as Nick Hewer's replacement following Hewer's departure from the role of adviser, with this appointment being confirmed prior to the eleventh series beginning its broadcast. Although he operates in this role throughout the competition, he retains his position as an interviewer in the Interviews Stage, while he appears as a guest panellist on You're Fired having done so since 2012, four years before becoming an adviser to Sugar.
  • Tim Campbell (series 16) – The winner of the first series, he replaced Claude Littner for the sixteenth series, following Littner suffering an injury while cycling.[42] Mike Soutar, a regular of the interview stage, filled in for Campbell in the tenth episode of the sixteenth series.

Series overview[edit]

Series Premiere date Finale date Winner Runner-up Average viewers
1 16 February 2005 4 May 2005 Tim Campbell Saira Khan 2.60
2 22 February 2006 10 May 2006 Michelle Dewberry Ruth Badger 4.43
3 28 March 2007 13 June 2007 Simon Ambrose Kristina Grimes 5.62
4 26 March 2008 11 June 2008 Lee McQueen Claire Young 7.29
5 25 March 2009 7 June 2009 Yasmina Siadatan Kate Walsh 8.37
6 6 October 2010 19 December 2010 Stella English Chris Bates 7.87
7 10 May 2011 17 July 2011 Tom Pellereau Helen Milligan 8.80
8 21 March 2012 3 June 2012 Ricky Martin Tom Gearing 7.35
9 7 May 2013 17 July 2013 Leah Totton Luisa Zissman 7.34
10 14 October 2014 21 December 2014 Mark Wright Bianca Miller 7.40
11 14 October 2015 20 December 2015 Joseph Valente Vana Koutsomitis 7.33
12 6 October 2016 18 December 2016 Alana Spencer Courtney Wood 7.28
13 4 October 2017 17 December 2017 Sarah Lynn / James White 6.94
14 3 October 2018 16 December 2018 Sian Gabbidon Camilla Ainsworth 7.32
15 2 October 2019 18 December 2019 Carina Lepore Scarlett Allen-Horton 7.17
16 6 January 2022 24 March 2022 Harpreet Kaur Kathryn Louise Burn 7.09
17 5 January 2023

Series 1 (2005)[edit]

The first series began in February 2005, with the opening theme being "Montagues and Capulets". The viewer ratings climbed[43] to almost 4 million viewers for the final episode on 4 May 2005. The winner of this series was Tim Campbell,[44] who had previously worked as a Senior Planner within the Marketing and Planning Department of London Underground. After his victory he went on to become Project Director of Amstrad's new Health and Beauty division at the time, but left the company to pursue other interests the following year,[45] starting up the Bright Ideas Trust in 2008 which offers funding and support for young people wishing to start their own business.[46]

In August 2008, the American cable channel CNBC began to present the first series on Monday nights,[47] but it was aired in disparate time slots or not at all due to the network's abrupt shifting of their programme schedule in order to cover developments regarding the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, leading to the series not being broadcast in full. With CNBC deciding to focus their prime time schedule on financial news programming, the programme's rights were moved to BBC America, where it started transmission on 5 May 2009.

Series 2 (2006)[edit]

The second series began on 22 February 2006, with a spin-off programme introduced on BBC Three to air alongside it called The Apprentice: You're Fired!.[48] The series finished with a record of 5.7 million viewers watching the final being won by Michelle Dewberry.[49] Dewberry briefly took up a post under Sugar following the series, but left in September 2006 after a series of personal problems.[50][51]

Series 3 (2007)[edit]

For the third series, 10,000 applications were received by the production staff, with a promise made to incorporate "tougher tasks and better people", after Alan Sugar expressed concerns that the show was becoming similar in format to that of Big Brother.[52] Alongside this, the BBC also revealed that the programme was being moved over to BBC One and aimed at a more "mainstream audience",[3][53] with the broadcaster subsequently moving The Apprentice: You're Fired! to BBC Two as a direct result.[54]

The series started on 28 March 2007 with viewing figures of 4.5 million,[55] climbing throughout the run to a peak of 6.8 million people,[56] all watching the final being won by Simon Ambrose.[57][58]

Series 4 (2008)[edit]

Candidates applying for the fourth series were invited to do so through the programme's official website,[59] leading to 20,000 applications being submitted for the series,[60] and 16 of them making it through to take part in the show. Its first episode aired on 26 March 2008, with its debut attracting 6.4 million viewers.[61][62][63] This climbed to around 8.9 million viewers for the final episode, with an additional 800,000 viewers tuning in for the episode's final 15 minutes,[64] to catch Lee McQueen winning the series. Lee went on to initially work for Sugar's company AMSHOLD, where he phoned in sick on his first day.[65]

Series 5 (2009)[edit]

Prior to the start of filming for the series, Adam Freeman, one of the lucky sixteen that had made it onto the fifth series, was forced to pull out; it was stated that his reasons for doing so were due to a "family matters".[66] This meant that when the series began on 25 March 2009, viewers got to see fifteen candidates vying for the prize, with Margaret Mountford announcing her decision to stand down as a participant of the show during its broadcast, officially confirming it on You're Fired.[67] The series was won by Yasmina Siadatan.

Series 6 (2010)[edit]

Following Mountford's departure, Karren Brady was officially revealed as her replacement on 30 August 2009,[68] later revealing in a newspaper interview on 28 February 2010 that the contestants would no longer refer to Alan Sugar as 'Sir Alan', but instead must call him 'Lord Sugar', following his elevation to the House of Lords.[69] Because of the 2010 general election being held in the United Kingdom, the BBC opted to delay the sixth series until after it had been held, as Alan Sugar had ties to the government at the time;[70] although he stated his intention of maintaining his position in the show,[71] the running of The Apprentice during the general election could have been a "risk to impartiality".[72] Advertising of the series commenced after it was held, throughout the Summer, with the opening episode eventually broadcast on 6 October 2010.[73] This series was the first to feature a two-hour crossover special between the main programme and its spin-off, You're Fired, a format that would be used in the series final of both in subsequent years.

The series was won by Stella English, who was placed into Sugar's company Viglen. In May 2011, she requested a new role after saying that she was just a "glorified PA",[74] and retained this for a year before it was decided not to renew her contract. The decision drew considerable media attention, after she attempted to sue Sugar for wrongful dismissal in February 2012, only for the legal action to be ultimately unsuccessful.[75][76][77]

Series 7 (2011)[edit]

Applications for the seventh series began in April 2010. Between the applicants being processed, to the filming of the first task, Sugar announced that the prize had been changed, and that now participants of the show were competing for an investment from him of £250,000, with Sugar becoming their business partner, owning a 50% share, but also providing guidance and support from himself and a team of experts to help develop the winning candidate's plan. Those applying prior to this announcement, were not aware of the prize change until later on. The change was due to the issue involving English and that Sugar was finding it difficult to find roles for the winners. The sixteen candidates who eventually secured a place on the series were revealed on 3 May 2011, via the official website and in a press launch, with the opening episode aired a week later on 10 May.[78]

In a change to format, the final involved the Interviews that candidates undertook, though these included a scrutinising of the candidates' business plans as well. Thomas Pellereau became Sugar's first business partner,[79] whereupon he used his prize to launch a range of manicure products with assistance from Sugar, including a line of curved nail files – the S-file, the S-Buffer and the Emergency File, two curved nail clippers, the S-Clipper and S-Clipper mini and a curved foot exfoliator, and the S-Ped – which were made available with major retailers in the country.[80] While Susan Ma failed to win the series, Sugar said that he liked her plan, later investing into her skincare company Tropic in 2012.[81]

Series 8 (2012)[edit]

The eighth series began on 21 March 2012, and was the last to use the format for the task layout as was used in the previous series.[82] The series was won by Ricky Martin,[83] who used his prize to launch his joint venture recruitment company called Hyper Recruitment Solutions (HRS), on 23 October 2012, which was designed to deal with recruitment in the field of science.[84] Ricky was subsequently invited back to appear on the tenth series as an interviewer.

Series 9 (2013)[edit]

The ninth series began on 7 May 2013, and saw the format of the task layout reverted to its original approach prior to the seventh series, though with the final task amended to focus on the investment prize, in which the finalists of the process had to conduct a presentation of their business idea to a panel of experts, including branding, an advert, and answering any questions given about their proposal. The series was won by Leah Totton, who used her prize to open her first cosmetic skin clinic on 22 January 2014.[85][86]

Series 10 (2014)[edit]

Because of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2014 Commonwealth Games, the tenth series was postponed until mid-Autumn to avoid clashing with the live coverage of both sporting events.[87] To commemorate the programme's tenth year, the series featured 20 candidates, with two of the tasks dedicated towards the items that had featured within them. The series began on 14 October 2014,[88] was won by Mark Wright, who used his prize to start an SEO business called Climb Online.[89] The series was the last to feature Nick Hewer, who announced his decision to depart from the show during its broadcast, officially confirming it on the series finale, during the You're Hired half of the episode.

Series 11 (2015)[edit]

Due to the 2015 General Election, the show was postponed until mid-Autumn, to avoid clashing with the political event due to Sugar's ties with it at the time. Because of Hewer's departure, Claude Littner was confirmed as his replacement prior to the opening episode of the eleventh series on 14 October 2015, though he retained his role as one of the key interviewers of the Interviews stage. The production staff now focused on applicants who were older and more experienced in business, with the number of candidates taking part now increased to 18. The series was won by Joseph Valente, who used Sugar's investment and assistance to help him expand his plumbing business, Impra-Gas.[90] The pair worked together on developing the business model for two years, until Valente announced in early 2017 that he intended to go solo and would be assuming full control. Both men parted ways on good terms, with Valente thankful for the help and opportunity that he had gotten, while Sugar wished him the best of luck and that he would be following the company's progress.[91]

Series 12 (2016)[edit]

As before, the BBC postponed the twelfth series to mid-Autumn, so as to avoid clashing with live coverage of Euro 2016, the 2016 UK EU membership referendum and the 2016 Rio Olympics that were to take place during the Summer.[92] The series began on 6 October 2016, and was won by Alana Spencer, who used her investment to kickstart a nationwide bakery business called Ridiculously Rich.[93]

Series 13 (2017)[edit]

The thirteenth series of the show was broadcast in late Autumn 2017, maintaining the broadcast schedule set by the previous three series. The series began on 4 October 2017, and was won by both James White and Sarah Lynn, making it the first time in the show's history where two finalists were joint winners.[94] Each would go on to use their individual investment to set up their own business – White would use his to start up an IT recruitment firm called Right Time Recruitment, while Lynn would use her investment to start up an online personalised sweets gift service called Sweets in the city.[95]

Series 14 (2018)[edit]

Unlike the last three series of the programme, the fourteenth series, which took place in late Autumn 2018, reverted to involving 16 candidates vying for Sugar's investment offer, and included a number of subtle changes to keep the format fresh such as candidates being sent abroad for the first task. The series began on 3 October 2018,[96] and was won by Sian Gabbidon, who used her investment to launch a luxury swimwear range.[97]

Series 15 (2019)[edit]

As with the previous series, the format for the fifteenth incorporated the new changes introduced, including the first task taking place abroad, the number of candidates taking part being at 16, and teams not being named until each consisted of a mix of women and men. The series began airing on 2 October 2019.[98] The series was won by Carina Lepore, who will be using Lord Sugar's investment to fund new stores for her "family-run" baking business across London.

Series 16 (2022)[edit]

The sixteenth series was originally planned for filming to begin in Spring 2020, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic at that time forced the BBC to postpone production to a later date. In lieu of a new series for their Autumn broadcast schedule, the broadcaster opted to fill the space with a special compilation series of highlights from previous series.[99][100][101] In May 2021, it was announced that filming for the sixteenth series would take place later in the year, with the new series intended for broadcast on 6 January 2022.[102]



Every series of The Apprentice is pre-recorded before its broadcast – although the show's twelve-week broadcast schedule gives the impressions that each episode was filmed over a period of 12 weeks, in reality, each series' filming schedule is conducted within a two-month period, a few months before the show is to be aired.[103] While the candidates do have a break between tasks to relax within the large rented house or apartment with which they are provided by the production team for the duration of the competition, each task is generally performed with a much closer time-frame than it appears on the programme.[104]

Compared to the US series, the British version has a more rigid format that requires the production team to provide enough footage for each series, that is to be then incorporated into twelve separate episodes. Early rules in filming meant that multiple firings were not allowed in the first two series, a fact that was acknowledged as an issue by Sugar when he expressed his desire to fire both Alexa Tilley and Syed Ahmed following a task in the second series, but could only get rid of the former. In subsequent series, this rule was changed after the show increased the number of candidates for the competition, meaning that Sugar could conduct double firings where needed by the film crew as part of the filming schedule.


Filming for many of the tasks involve locations within London and across the UK in various cities and towns, and on a number of occasions when tasks take the teams abroad, across Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. For each series, the candidates are provided with accommodation within an upmarket area of London selected by the production team,[105][106][107][108][109] with every episode's opening and ending scene being filmed at this location, utilising a mixture of exterior and interior shots of scenes; filming is also done on site if the candidates are conducting work on a task within the building.

For other outdoor shots used as part of the other scenes in an episode, the locations have varied. Between the first and third series, both the show's opening credits and the post-firing "walk of shame" exit sequences were filmed outside the Amstrad HQ building in Brentwood, but from the fourth series onwards, following Amstrad's sale to BSkyB in 2007, filming of these scenes are done in front of the Viglen HQ building in St Albans, Hertfordshire, which until that point had been used a filming location for the interviews stage of the competition, and continued to do so until 2014 when it was decided to change the filming location to the Leadenhall Building. In addition, between the fourth to ninth series, the show's Walk of Shame scene was filmed at night, but the tenth series changed the filming schedule to have this done during the afternoon. For the scenes involving the losing team discussing their loss, the film crew have used two cafes – "The Bridge" in Acton, West London; and "La Cabana 2" in North London – though editing of these scenes is done to make it appear that candidates only enter The Bridge cafe.[110]

Although the show uses footage taken by its film crew for most of the episode shown, aerial footage of various buildings in London is used on The Apprentice, mainly to acts as small links between scenes and as part of the show's opening credits, and have included shots of the Square Mile and Canary Wharf financial districts, as well as the 180-metre Gherkin, HSBC Tower, One Canada Square, the Citigroup Centre, and the Shard; such locations are not used for filming unless a task involves visiting the site.[111]

Candidates and tasks[edit]

Filming of an episode can usually take a considerable amount of time to be done and as such, each task is usually filmed back-to-back, rather than weekly as it appears in the broadcast schedule for a series. For each episode, four television crews are used to follow the candidates during a task, and often are focused on picking up on mistakes and issues between candidates, than on their overall performance. The final edit of an episode often trims down a task that took 1–3 days to be done, to fit it within approximately about half of what will be televised for that episode, meaning candidates may appear to make minimal contributions when in reality they made more, while others may not feature as much if Sugar or his advisers feel they did well and completed their duties, as emphasis is often put on moments that can be entertaining for audiences. Often the filming of an episode can hamper the efforts of candidates in a task, due to film crews usually having to get filming permission first from the respective owner of a store or establishment, which can often be a time-consuming and cumbersome process as a result,[110] whilst the strict rules of the BBC on product placement and advertising mean candidates have to approach businesses with care when asking them for help.[112]

Owing to the need for secrecy during the two months of filming, all candidates are made to sign a confidentiality agreement which prohibits all, but a few confidants nominated by them, to be told of where they will be during that time, which remains active after filming until the series has started broadcast.[113] As part of this agreement, all contact with the outside world is restricted to a high level – each candidate gets a limited phone call once a week, has no access to newspapers, television or internet, and is required to hand in any electronic communication equipment they have (i.e. mobiles) before they begin.[112] In addition, all candidates are made to remain in their accommodation throughout filming except when they must head out for a task, and can only take a day off if they are supervised by a chaperone from the production crew. As a result, the persistent presence of the cameras, the closeness of rivals in the competition and the lack of contact with families and friends, can cause considerable pressure and stress for a candidate between entering the process, to leaving it.

Boardroom, 'Walk of Shame" and Final[edit]

Scenes filmed in both the "boardroom" and the reception area that resides next door to the room, are in fact done within a custom-built set at Black Island Studios,[114] with the boardroom receptionist actually being an employee of the production company, Talkback Thames, and not Alan Sugar's real secretary.[115] Filming of each candidates' "walk of shame" exit sequences is mainly done towards the beginning of a new series,[115] which can lead to the fired candidate's clothing and hairstyle being different to that in their final boardroom scene before their dismissal from the competition.[116] The post-firing taxi ride that occurs after their departure does not take the candidate home as it appears in the show, but merely takes them around the block to allow their taxi interview to be filmed, after which they are then taken to a local hotel to stay the night before being finally allowed to leave after packing up their belongings from the house.[115]

For the final, multiple endings are filmed for the candidates who make it to the end of the process, although Sugar does not reveal who he will hire until shortly before transmission. This determines which ending is shown as part of the series finale's final edit. Notably, the BBC has released two statements regarding the decision procedure which are considered to be contradictory; while the first states that Sugar makes his decision on the day that the final boardroom sequence is filmed, based on the contestants' performance in the final task, and keeps it secret until just before transmission,[117] the second states that he decides after a six-month trial period.[103] Former candidate, Saira Khan, notably stated that his final decision "is not based on the programme that people see", but is based on "these two people [who] have been working with him for the six months."[118]


The Apprentice: You're Fired! (2006–present)[edit]

Following the decision to commission a second series of the programme, the BBC decided to create a spin-off companion programme to accompany The Apprentice, with its format operating in a similar manner to that of Big Brother's Little Brother and Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two. Originally aired on BBC Three, before it was moved to BBC Two alongside the main programme's move to BBC One, the show is broadcast alongside the latest series of the main show, with each episode featuring the host and a group of guest panellists – business people related to the task, presenters of TV/radio programmes, and comedians – performing an in-depth look into the recent task of the programme,[119][120] while also interviewing the most recently fired candidate(s) and analyzing their performance. The shows are recorded at Riverside Studios,[121] and is hosted by Tom Allen; it has been previously hosted by Adrian Chiles, Dara Ó Briain, Jack Dee and Rhod Gilbert.[122]

Comic Relief Does The Apprentice (2007–2019)[edit]

Following the second series of The Apprentice, the BBC announced that, as part of its early-2007 programming schedule, a celebrity version of the programme would be recorded in aid of the charity Comic Relief. Given the title of Comic Relief Does The Apprentice,[123] it functioned differently to the format of the American celebrity edition, The Celebrity Apprentice  – while that was filmed to be a full series when it was broadcast, the Comic Relief special functioned on a simple format, in which it featured ten celebrities split between two teams – a "boys' team" and a "girls' team" – and consisted of two parts covering a single task, with any money raised going to the 2007 Comic Relief fund, though retaining certain key elements from the main programme, such as the boardroom scene and Sugar "firing" one of the celebrities. Filming of this special was conducted on 15 December 2006, with the celebrities that participated being Piers Morgan, Alastair Campbell, Cheryl Cole, Danny Baker, Jo Brand, Karren Brady, Maureen Lipman, Ross Kemp, and Trinny Woodall; the special also featured Rupert Everett, though he was later replaced by Series 1 winner, Timothy Campbell, after he left on the first day of the task.[124][125][126] The two part special aired on 15 and 16 March 2007 on BBC One, the second part as a film segment for Red Nose Day 2007,[127] with the celebrities raising over £1 million for charity.[128]

A section celebrity edition of the show was made for Comic Relief two-years later in 2009, with the two-part special of Comic Relief Does The Apprentice airing on 12 and 13 March 2009, with the celebrities that participated being Alan Carr, Jack Dee, Gerald Ratner, Jonathan Ross, Gok Wan, Michelle Mone, Patsy Palmer, Fiona Phillips, Carol Vorderman and Ruby Wax. Although Ross had been suspended by the BBC over the prank telephone call row that occurred during the time that the special was being filmed, the broadcaster permitted him to appear in it due to the fact that it would be airing after his suspension had been lifted.[129]

The Apprenticast (2007–2009)[edit]

The beginning of the third series saw the launch of a weekly podcast called The Apprenticast, and a radio programme on BBC Five Live, both hosted by former Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon and running for thirty minutes.[130] Both programmes featured former candidates being questioned by members of the public, comedians, and those who work in business.[131] Some critics have described Bacon's performance as better than that of Adrian Chiles, who presented the similar, but television-based, programme The Apprentice: You're Fired![7]

For the 2009 series, an independent weekly podcast was also released, hosted by first series contestant James Max, in conjunction with London talk station LBC (on which Max hosts his own show).

Sport Relief Does The Apprentice (2008)[edit]

After the first Comic Relief celebrity version proved a success, the BBC gave the green light for another edition the following year for Sport Relief 2008. Designed once again as a two-part special called Sport Relief Does The Apprentice, it was aired on 12 and 14 March 2008,[132] and functioned on the same format as the Comic Relief version. For the Sport Relief edition, the celebrities that participated were Phil Tufnell, Nick Hancock, Lembit Öpik, Kelvin MacKenzie, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Lisa Snowdon, Jacqueline Gold, Louise Redknapp, Clare Balding and Kirstie Allsopp.[132][133]

Young Apprentice (2010–2012)[edit]

As the main programme began to grow in success, Sugar took notice of the number of young viewers the show was attracting, and went into discussions with the BBC in March 2008 to propose the creation of a junior spin-off of the show, featuring a young age-group of candidates and being aired in an early evening timeslot on BBC One. Despite a lack of interest, Sugar went into negotiations on the idea in early 2009, whereupon the BBC gave the green light for the project after the idea was revised. In May 2009, while the fifth series of The Apprentice was underway, the broadcaster announced the spin-off's production during an episode of The Apprentice: You're Fired! with news that it had begun an application process aimed at young candidates aged between sixteen and seventeen.[134] Both the filming schedule and the format of the spin-off differed greatly with the main show, with the most notable differences being that Sugar was gentler with the young candidates when firing them from the spin-off, the candidates faced mainly standard tasks and no interviews, and the winner received a £25,000 investment from Sugar to fund their further education and future prospects.

The first series of the programme began on 12 May 2010, under the title of Junior Apprentice,[135] consisted of 10 candidates split evenly between gender, and ran for a total of six episodes. It also marked the debut of Karren Brady as Margaret Mountford's replacement, after she left the main show following the fifth series; Brady would later begin her first appearance on The Apprentice at the start of its sixth series. The spin-off later led to the BBC commissioning two more series, though with a few changes – the show was renamed as Young Apprentice, with the number of candidates increased to twelve and the number of episodes increased to eight.[136] The second series began airing on 24 October 2011, while the third began on 1 November 2012.

The spin-off was eventually cancelled after its third series, after Sugar revealed on his Twitter account in February 2013 that the BBC had decided to not renew Young Apprentice for another series.[137]

Special programmes[edit]


The following is a list of specials that have aired alongside the majority of the series:

  • The Apprentice: The Final Five is a documentary special which first aired alongside the third series under the title, The Apprentice: Beyond the Boardroom.[138][139] The programme focuses on the remaining final five contestants who have made it into the final stages of the competition, in which each candidate is interviewed about their overall performance at that stage, as well as their personal interests and past experiences. Along with interviews with the candidates, the programme also features each candidate's close friends, family members, including parents, children, and partners, and Sugar's advisers, each airing their views and opinions on the candidate currently being talked about.
  • The Apprentice: Why I Fired Them is a documentary special which first aired alongside the third series, and focuses on Lord Alan Sugar looking back over the current series, and discussing the merits and shortcomings of the candidates he fired up to the time the programme is aired. Joined by his advisers, he explains in more detail about why he fired each candidate at each stage of the competition, whilst reviewing the performances of the finalists for that series.[140][141] For the seventh series, the programme was not broadcast, but instead was replaced with documentary special, How To Get Hired, presented by Dara Ó Briain.


The following is a list of programmes that were one-offs:

  • The Apprentice: Tim in the Firing Line was an hour-long documentary that aired on 19 February 2006, prior to the launch of the second series. The programme followed Tim Campbell, the winner of Series One, during the first twelve months of the job that he had won, in which he worked within Amstrad's health and beauty division, and was tasked with bringing to market a new anti-wrinkle product, named The Integra.[126][142] The programme also documented the reaction of Campbell's family,[143] including mother Una Campbell, fiancée Jasmine Johnson, and daughter Kayla Campbell.[144] As a result of his impressive performance, he was offered a permanent position within Amstrad.[145] Sugar later said that Campbell's job would not have been in danger had he failed to make the product a success, and that the project was a "joint responsibility".[142]
  • The Apprentice: The Worst Decisions Ever was a one-off special that was screened on BBC Two on 3 April 2008. It focused on Sugar revisiting some of the moments over the past four series at that time, and the decisions that candidates had made that he deemed the worst he seen.
  • The Apprentice: Motor Mouths was a one-off special that was screened on BBC Two on 18 April 2008, and featured interviews with celebrity fans and former contenders who remembered candidates, described as "motor mouths", who only just failed to make it to the finals.
  • The Apprentice Best Bits was a compilation series that was screened on BBC One on 1 October 2020. The series featured six episodes, focused on highlights from the previous fifteen series of the main programme, and was created as a replacement for a new series in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.[100][101]

Parodies and imitations[edit]

The show has been imitated in the ITV programme Harry Hill's TV Burp.[146] It was also mocked in the BBC impression programme Dead Ringers, in which Sir Alan Sugar turns fired contestants into frogs and the candidates are portrayed as failed applicants of Strictly Come Dancing and Big Brother who are seeking their 15 minutes of fame.[147]

Rory Bremner did an impression of Sir Alan on the show Bremner Bird and Fortune; he was in the boardroom with the main London Mayoral candidates, Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone and Brian Paddick, and after each of the candidates failed to get a single vote according to his results, he hired himself for the job claiming he "would make a profit on City Hall". In Dead Ringers Bremner also impersonated a Sir Alan with magic powers castigating a contestant over an event akin to what occurred to The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

In early 2007, the show was mocked in the television programme Kombat Opera Presents The Applicants.[148] The series has been lampooned on the Boleg Bros website, where it is shot in Lego.[149] Paul Merton and Ian Hislop also parodied the show during a promotional advert for the 2007 and 2008 series of Have I Got News for You.[150]

In June 2007, shortly after the conclusion of Series Three of The Apprentice, rival UK channel ITV began airing Tycoon, described in The Times as "a shameless rip-off of The Apprentice".[151] Mark Thompson, The BBC's director general, accused ITV of "copycatting" and said that Tycoon was "very like The Apprentice, and there's possibly a bit of Dragons' Den in there".[152] The series followed Dragons' Den star Peter Jones' search for a new business tycoon.[153] It proved relatively unsuccessful and was removed from a prime time slot on Tuesdays after achieving fewer than 2 million viewers, over 2.5 million below the channel's average.[154] The final episode attracted just 1.3 million viewers.[155] The programme's winner, Iain Morgan, won a prize of over £200,000.[155][156]

In the fourth series of Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe, Brooker parodied The Apprentice, with Brooker taking on the role of a Sugar-like character dressed in a crown and gown, and replacing the catchphrase, "You're fired" with "You're fucked."[157] Brooker later produced another parody, as part of the Aspiration episode of How TV Ruined Your Life entitled The Underling. In this parody, Roger Sloman portrays a Sugar-like figure who berates children for their poor attempts to set up a lemonade stand.[158]

The children's comedy sketch show "Horrible Histories" features "Historical Apprentice" as a recurring sketch. This directly references "The Apprentice" and Sugar, and features two different teams from different historical periods.

Sugar starred in a mock clip of The Apprentice within the 2012 Doctor Who episode, "The Power of Three".

Series have expanded outside television with a number of University student groups recreating local competitions by sticking to the format of tasks. What is known as Student Apprentice competitions have been hosted across the country in a number of Universities, especially in London. Events became so popular competitions joined as Regional Student Apprentice in London and other regions in UK. In 2013, these were joined to form National Student Apprentice,[159] which became a competition bringing together six regions for a national event.

In May 2014 Harry & Paul's Story of the Twos parodied the show, with Harry Enfield as Sugar.[160][161]



The programme has been given positive reviews by several newspapers. In the popular press, The Sun newspaper has called it "The thinking man's reality show", and The Daily Mirror described it as "jaw-dropping viewing".[162] Broadsheet newspapers have given the programme a similarly positive reception, with The Daily Telegraph calling it "The most addictive show in years",[162] and The Guardian saying that it provided "A salutary lesson in aggressive buying and selling, hiring and firing". The Sunday Times said that it was "not just a game show: it's a business school."[162] The Evening Standard was also favourable, describing the programme as "terribly compelling".[162]

According to a report released by Ernst & Young in August 2013, the rise of popular television programmes like The Apprentice, have helped to encourage and foster an entrepreneurial culture across the UK. The report revealed that 71% of entrepreneurs surveyed thought the UK encourages an entrepreneurial spirit.[163]


The programme has been criticised in the British media for suggesting that success in the business world requires possession of unsavoury qualities. Terence Blacker of The Independent newspaper, for example, said that he believed that the programme falsely linked success with being "nasty, disloyal, greedy and selfish".[164] Talk show host Sir Michael Parkinson has also expressed misgivings about the programme, describing it as being "full of vulgar, loud people who, for all the wrong reasons, are dobbing each other in".[165]

The premise of the show itself has been called into question by some members of the business world. Steve Carter, the head of recruitment firm Nigel Lynn, described the "brutality" of the recruitment process as being unrealistic.[166] None of the winners of the first six series of The Apprentice stayed with Sugar's companies over time, some for only a matter of weeks,[167] leading it to be criticised as "an entertainment show with no real aspect of business to it".[168] In response to these criticisms, a spokesperson for The Apprentice has been quoted as saying "The show isn't designed as a tool for recruiters... but it does highlight and thoroughly test key business skills such as leadership, teamwork, dedication and strategic thinking – integral skills most recruiters are looking for".[166]

Former contestant and runner-up Saira Khan has criticised the programme because the final two candidates both work with Sir Alan Sugar for a few months before he decides whom he will hire. Khan stated that "Sir Alan Sugar's final decision is not based on the programme that people see, his final decision is based on these two people who have been working with him for the six months." Khan also said that the show is more concerned with giving viewers a rags-to-riches ending than employing the most able candidate, and that the show promotes bullying in the workplace.[169] The series has been notably edited afterwards to show the winner in a different light. This has led to some viewers correctly guessing the winner of the series partway through the series.

Former contestants Lucinda Ledgerwood and James Max have criticised the tasks on the show as being too heavily sales-focused and designed for entertainment rather than as tests of all-round business skills.[170][171][172]

A number of people have criticised the show's editing and production methods. Contestants Syed Ahmed and Tre Azam accused the show of dumbing down their appearances for entertainment.[173] Gerri Blackwood said that her boardroom scene was filmed again to make it look better.[citation needed] Alan Sugar himself revealed in his autobiography (but did not criticise) that the boardroom scenes are edited to create tension. Jokes and light hearted encounters are cut out, and Alan is seen "banging the table".[174]

Media Watch has voiced concerns over inclusion of company names and products such as Chrysler in the programme, accusing the producers of breaking BBC policy regarding product placement.[175] Despite these claims, Talkback Thames has denied any suggestion of product placement.[175]

The show received criticism from viewers during series six after it was revealed that orders placed in the programme were not genuine.[citation needed]

Runner up of the eleventh series, Vana Koutsomitis criticised the living conditions that candidates live in; despite being granted accommodation in a lavish house, Vana claimed that the show bosses impose living conditions similar to Big Brother – with strict rules and zero contact with outsiders. She said: "They just throw you into a house and tell you that you have no phone, no internet and you’ll have no contact with the outside world, You can only talk to your family once a week for 10 minutes and that’s monitored. And we weren’t allowed to go to Boots to grab something. We had to be monitored and guided there." She continued; "I think that element of cabin fever and psychological torture is not necessary for a business competition. I don’t believe that you need to isolate people. I think you can gauge people’s business skills without putting them in that environment.[176]

Vana's criticism of the living conditions that candidates live in which they have zero contact with outsiders was also brought up a year later by contestant Aleksandra King, who left the process in the fourth task. Following her departure, she remarked: "I can't tell you in exact detail how much contact I was allowed with my family but, for me, the restricted contact was not good enough. I would have liked to have picked up the phone and just said, "How are you guys? OK, Great." I was not able to do that. I've got a nine-year-old, a seven-year-old and a five-year-old but it's the work-life balance thing because there are other mums in there who have younger kids and it was OK for them. But for me, I started to get slightly irritated because I felt like why is this even a business tip, what has lack of contact with my family got to do with it? It was winding me up and going on in my head.' King later remarked that The Apprentice includes a "blame culture" and the atmosphere "wasn't necessarily great for business".[177]

Viewing figures[edit]

Throughout the programme's history, The Apprentice has received high viewing figures with each series.[178] When its first series was broadcast in 2005 on BBC Two, it attracted an average of 2.5 million viewers per episode,[178] with an audience share of 11% for its timeslot that allowed it to beat popular programmes being aired on rival channels at the time, such as Desperate Housewives.[178][179] By the following year, the second series achieved a far higher average of 4.4 million viewers and an audience share of 27%,[178] surpassing those achieved from the live broadcast of the 2005 UEFA Cup Final and other televised programming, such as the film Pearl Harbor.[180]

Viewing figures continued to improve upon the programme being switched to BBC One and a more mainstream audience, with the third series attracting an average of 5.62 million viewers per episode, at an audience share of 27%,[181][182] surpassing the ratings achieved by programmes, at the time, such as City Lights, Grand Designs and Big Brother.[182][183] Notably, opening and finale episodes also attracted favourable ratings – the premiere episode of the fourth series achieved around 6.4 million viewers,[184] with the finale reaching a peak figure of 9.7 million.[185] Even special editions of the programme proved a rating success – Comic Relief Does The Apprentice attracted 6.72 million viewers when it was broadcast prior to the third series, becoming the fifth most-watched programme on BBC One the week it aired.[186]

According to BARB figures, the most viewed series to date is the seventh series – it achieved an average of 8.8 million viewers per episode. For individual episodes, the following table lists the 10 highest rating episodes of The Apprentice, to date, per BARB figures:[187]

Number Series Episode Broadcast Rating (consolidated)
1 7 12 17 July 2011 10.24 million
2 5 11 3 June 2009 9.76 million
3 7 11 13 July 2011 9.73 million
4 7 10 6 July 2011 9.42 million
5 5 12 7 June 2009 9.31 million
6 4 12 11 June 2008 9.29 million
7 7 9 29 June 2011 8.98 million
8 5 9 20 May 2009 8.90 million
9 7 1 10 May 2011 8.79 million
10 7 8 22 June 2011 8.77 million


The Apprentice won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) for "Best Feature" during the 2006 awards, beating Top Gear, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Dragons' Den.[188] It was also nominated for a BAFTA for "Best Feature" at the 2007 awards,[189] but was beaten by The Choir.[190]

Other awards that the programme has won include:[191]


On 10 February 2005, Lord Alan Sugar released a book to coincide with the first series, called The Apprentice: How to Get Hired Not Fired.[192] On 16 February 2006, the book was revised with additional information relating to the second series.[193] An official magazine was first released on 23 May 2007.[6] It includes items about business, interviews with candidates from the programme and other Apprentice-related features.[194][195][196]

The Apprentice has included various pieces of classical and popular music throughout. Numerous pieces from film soundtracks are used as well as music featured in the BBC TV series Doctor Who. Examples of the music used include the opening theme ("Dance of the Knights" from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev) and "The Boardroom", "You're Fired" and "Closing Credits" from The Apprentice (Original Theme) by Dru Masters. An official soundtrack was released on 4 June 2007.[197] At the beginning of the first episode of Series 6, the iconic string phrase from the first movement of Gustav Mahler's Sixth Symphony can be heard in, one might surmise, a numerological nod. Further episodes in Series 6, include an extract from a piece by the French composer and pianist, Erik Satie, (from his "Gymnopédies No 1"), music from the Disney-Pixar 2009 film, Up, composed by Michael Giacchino, and a famous extract from Benjamin Britten's opera, Peter Grimes. A number of episodes also featured brief snippets of several tracks from The Sims series of games, such as the neighbourhood theme from The Sims 3, was briefly used in the last episode of series 6 and one of the build tracks from Makin' Magic was used in Series 7 episode 8.

In 2009, a DVD called "The Apprentice: The Best of Series 1–4" was released.


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External links[edit]