The 5 most embarrassing defeats on The Apprentice

Series 11's first episode saw one team secure a measly profit of £1.87 - but it's far from the worst result in the show's history

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Tonight’s Apprentice episode saw a pretty poor showing for team Connexus, who ended the first week’s fish-selling task with a measly £1.87 profit. In case you’re wondering, that’s the smallest profit ever made by a team in the Apprentice (not including the many times they’ve made a loss), and is not quite enough to buy the coffees the losing team were sipping in the loser café. 

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Still, the new Apprentii need not get too down-hearted; over the years, the show has seen many a loss, some of them even more shameful than this one…


5. Series 9 week 7 – selling motorhomes

This particular task saw teams Endeavour and Evolve try to sell products (including motorhomes) at Birmingham’s Motorhome & Caravan Show. Predictably, not all went to plan – Endeavour (which was headed that week by Kurt Wilson and included eventual winner Leah Totton) lost their first choice products to the other team, and didn’t sell a single caravan.

This led to a comprehensive victory by Evolve of £33,616 to Endeavour’s £1,479 – the third biggest victory in the UK Apprentice. But not the most embarrassing…


4. Series 5 week 3 – creating and pitching portable home fitness equipment

Teams Empire and Ignite went head-to-head for this task, which saw Empire PM James MacQuillan’s ideas ignored by team-mate Ben Clarke (above) and the subsequent creation of a complicated multi-gym kit that only secured orders from one retailer. By contrast Ignite went for a simpler product, gaining orders from all three featured retailers including a bulk exclusive deal from John Lewis that put them way ahead.

In the end Empire lost with orders for just 500 units, while Ignite had 10,800. This was at the time the worst defeat in the show’s history with a 20:1 margin in favour of Ignite – and it was only the beginning of team Empire’s many woes…


3. Series 5 week 4 – sell bath and beauty products 

When making fun of this week’s piddling profit we should remember that team Connexus didn’t actually make a loss, which more than one team has done over the years. Perhaps one of the most notable examples came in this 2009 task, which stands out in particular because of how avoidable the failure was. If team Empire had got their numbers (and words) straight, things might have been very different…

You see, it was widely agreed that their seaweed-based bath products were better than Ignite’s honeycomb-themed efforts, but Empire’s Kate Walsh and Yasmina Siadatan (above) accidentally spent £700 pounds on essential oils after misunderstanding the percentage needed and then mixing up cedarwood oil with the much more expensive sandalwood. If it wasn’t for these mistakes (pointed out by Nick Hewer during the task), their good product would probably have won them the task – whoops!


2. Series 5 week 6 – selling miscellaneous items on the streets of London

As you may have noticed, series 5 crops up a lot in this list (and we haven’t even mentioned Pants Man), but this task really took the cake as both teams actually made a loss. The catastrophic result came from their failure to research or recognise the value of the varied items they were instructed to sell, leading to them flogging many at a loss.

The final result saw team Empire make a loss of £169, while Ignite walked away with the comparatively princely sum of minus-£34. Actually, should this also be on the “most embarrassing victories” list?


1. Series 7 week 9 – manufacture and pitch a new, distinctive biscuit

This is the big one – the biggest defeat in Apprentice history, which saw team Venture absolutely run away with the victory over team Logic (which included eventual series 7 winner Tom Pellereau, above) as the two sets of Apprentii created their own biscuit lines. 

The eventual score (helped by a risky but successful deal with Asda dreamed up by “Jedi” Jim Eastwood) saw Venture receive 800,000 orders for their biscuits at a total value of £1.6 million, while team Logic secured… well, none at all. Probably didn’t take Nick and Karren too long to work out who’d won that one…

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The Apprentice returns to BBC1 tomorrow (Thursday 15th October) at 9:00pm