When Stuart “The Brand” Baggs left The Apprentice back in series six, some people (him) thought the show would end there and then. Incredibly, it’s managed to limp on for another four years, with series ten kicking off tomorrow (oh, and an 11th already in production). But now, as the BBC looks back on the best bits from previous years, some people (well, one confused young man) are taking it as a sign that Lord Sugar and co are on their last legs.
So who better to step in and reverse the business reality show’s “ailing” fortunes than the former Apprentice reject. We persuaded Stuart to take ten minutes out of his busy schedule to give us some advice on how to save The Apprentice…
What’s wrong with the format?
“It’s like, if you imagine leaving a box of ice cream out of the freezer for ten years, it would be mouldy. That’s how The Apprentice has ended up now.
“The format hasn’t changed and it’s just full of even more cringeworthy people – although that’s difficult to say as I set the bar pretty high with the level of cringe. It’s got even worse. Is that how I came across? Because I just want to shoot myself now, do the nation a favour!
“I mean, how insane is it sitting in a studio in the middle of Acton genuinely being worried about being fired by someone you don’t work for?
“Who the hell does business just jumping out of a black car trying to sell shovels to a shop in the middle of Acton? It just doesn’t happen.
“It’s the most ludicrous concept ever. But when you’re stuck in the middle of it you actually get quite worried.”
How could it be spiced up?
“It needs me to replace Sugar. I’ve got a sense of humour but at the same time I wouldn’t put up with any crap.
“I challenge Lord Sugar to show me his Ferrari at age 26. Just saying, just saying…”
Not one of the other candidates? One that actually won the show…
“I’d be the natural fit. Of all the people that have ever been on that show, you hear them go out and get jobs etc, but none of them are sat on £10-£12million empires with Ferraris and staff and a huge number of customers etc – I would say out of everyone that’s come out of that show, I’d say I’m the only one that’s achieved anything tangible.”
Who would be your aides if you took Lord Sugar’s seat?
“Oh, good question. I’d need someone less successful than myself – so probably someone like Richard Branson maybe, someone like that on one side. And, I don’t know, Jeremy Clarkson on the other.”
How would the firing go?
“I’d be like, ‘Right, I’m going to fire the whole bloody team, I don’t care. I know my contract says I’m only allowed to fire two a week, but do you know what, shred that, you’re all gone. Bugger off.’ That’s how it would work.”
With the pointing finger of doom?
“I for one have never raised my voice or pointed my boney finger at anyone to get my way.”
Do people recognise you from The Apprentice?
“People even still now go, ‘I bet you don’t actually have a field of ponies,’ and I go ‘Well no you absolute moron’. It’s crazy because they take everything you said literally, they don’t dare to think an apprentice might have a sense of humour and might just be taking the mick.”
The show has added more candidates this year. Will that work?
“Have you ever seen the game Lemmings where you’ve just got to kill all the Lemmings? The more of them, the easier it’s going to be to squish them.
“With twenty in the same time frame there’s going to be times when it’s like ‘the whole team sod off, don’t bother coming back’. That’s what I hope for.”
Are things going well for you now?
“Oh god yeah, I’ve done really, really well. Things are insane. Even by the time I did the show my company was turning over a few million pounds. Now it’s just through the roof.
“I’m literally running a telecoms company across three islands with thousands and thousands of customers – it’s absolutely insane.”
So why did you ever bother with The Apprentice?
“Genuinely I just wanted to meet attractive ladies. At the time I was an overweight, horrendously annoying 21 year old. And now look at me… I’m 26. Actually, I’m not overweight for the first time in my life.“
“My favourite moment was when it ended. Leaving was such a big relief. And truth be told, all jokes aside, it was just too long. I was away from everyone that mattered to me. When I knew I wasn’t going to get the job, it was just like ‘oh, finally’.”
Got any facts up your sleeve?
“I would still be a virgin if it wasn’t for The Apprentice – that is scientific fact.”
Ten Years of The Apprentice is tonight at 10:35pm on BBC1