In tonight’s episode of The Apprentice, the remaining candidates will be torn to shreds by some of Lord Sugar’s trusted advisors in a series of interviews so tough that they’re liable to put you off ever trying to find a new job again.
And traditionally, it’s Claude Littner who delivers the biggest body blows to the contestants, with his combative style often leaving them shellshocked – so you might be surprised to find that in person, he’s very protective of the young businessmen and women who come through the doors.
“Even though we all scream at the TV and think how stupid all the candidates are, those tasks are not easy,” he told RadioTimes.com.
“They are NOT easy, and the timespan that they’ve got to do it in is short, and you’ve got all the different characters pulling in different directions, so… it makes for wonderful viewing, but for the candidates it is a stressful situation, not least of which because you’ve got cameras in your face all the time.
“You’re living in a house with strangers, you’ve got no access to the outside world. Internet, telephones, television, all those kind of things that everyone thinks as completely normal and takes for granted.”
And Claude is particularly irritated by commentary suggesting that this year’s cohort of Apprentees are less capable than usual, with many viewers complaining that their performance on tasks has been sub-par.
Claude in tonight’s episode of The Apprentice
“It is stressful,” Littner told us. “Having me stand there and all the cameras, and then Lord Sugar asking questions – it’s not comfortable, that’s for sure. So I think, every year everyone says ‘oh these candidates aren’t very good are they,’ it’s just that they’re put under pressure.
“All these people saying ‘this is the worst bunch,’ or whatever it is that they’re saying, I just think is farcical, really.”
Claude also went on to explain that his aggressive interview style is partly based on a desire to see how the candidates handle the pressure, and tease out the details of how well they’d work with Lord Sugar going forward.
“Even though it would appear that I’m looking for the negatives, what I’m looking for really is to find the best people to put before Alan Sugar, so that he can make his call on who he want to invest,” he told us.
“The objective, really, is on the one hand to try and tease out the good things on the business plan, but also, if I’ve found sort of gaps in the business plan or things that I don’t quite understand, it’s very important that the candidates are able to defend [it]… defend those particular numbers, for example.
Karren Brady, Lord Sugar and Claude Littner in The Apprentice
“It looks like I’m trying to look for all the bad points, but secretly, inwardly, I’m actually looking for their strengths as well, to see whether they’re going to be able to work with Alan Sugar.”
He concluded: “Because actually, by the time they get to the last five, or four, or whatever it happens to be, you’ve got to kind of admire all of them.
“Very often the viewing public don’t appreciate what these individuals have gone through to get to where they’ve got to, and then the further stress of – and it’s a very stressful day that interview day – what they’ve all got to go through. It’s not easy and it’s not comfortable.”
And now we can watch all that stress and pain on BBC1 tonight with the knowledge that Claude is secretly rooting for everyone he tears lumps out of. Adds a whole other dimension to it.
The Apprentice is on BBC1 tonight (Thursday 15th December) at 9:00pm