The secrets of the Apprentice boardroom – as revealed by former candidate Daniel Lassman

“It’s designed to break you…”

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Former Apprentice candidate Daniel Lassman is the first to admit he had plenty of experience of the boardroom in 2014’s tenth series. Pulled in four times to face Lord Sugar – before going on to take third place in the competition -–he learnt a thing or two about ducking the firing finger of doom.

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With The Apprentice back on our screens, Daniel tells us what it’s really like in there…

The first-timers scare everyone else

“First time in the boardroom is the worst by a country mile… The people that survive the boardroom come back and scare you senseless. They’re like ‘It’s the worst thing in the world, you don’t understand. I had to go to places I’ve never been before…’

“I’m thinking, ‘How bad can this boardroom be? What is going on?’ So it’s a fear of not knowing…”

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It’s much longer than it looks

“It’s always ridiculously dragged out. Lord Sugar’s gone through every single nook and cranny just to make sure he’s making the right decision. I guess an extra hour on what you see.”

It’s designed to break you

“In the boardroom you’ve got seven or eight cameras blatantly facing you. Add the lighting, add lord sugar, add Nick Hewer [this year it’s Claude Littner] and Karren Brady. It was designed to break you.” 

You do get a bit starstruck

“I remember the first time I walked in and saw Lord Sugar, Nick and Karren I thought, ‘Wow, how am I going to talk to these guys with honest opinions? With a raised voice? Get angry and emotional?’ What you’re thinking straight away is ‘I’ve been watching these guys on TV for years’. That is the first thing that goes through you mind. It’s a weird presence that they carry. Not just being good at business, but that fame element too.

“I think the only time you really have to show them and fight and forget who they are is when you’re on the line, when you’re about to get fired. Anger and emotion just comes out of you.”

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You have a ‘boardroom outfit’

“You can’t change your boardroom outfit [the production team won’t let you]. I don’t know if it’s continuity or something. Every time you put on the boardroom suit you knew you were bang in trouble.”

It’s all about mind games at the Bridge Café

“When you’re in the Bridge Café all you’re trying to do is lay blame and knock their confidence so they’re actually like, ‘It was my fault.’ That’s kind of the tactic that most people have.”

Experience in the boardroom can be a bonus

“I still think I’m the guy that made the most boardroom visits ever. I’ve had a lot of experience of knowing how to deal with the situation, while it was a lot of people’s first experience in there.

“I knew what I had to do: attack, attack, attack. Get out the reasons why I shouldn’t be fired and why this candidate should be. They would come in and say to Lord Sugar ‘It’s my first time here’, by then I’ve attacked them twenty five times. It was all about trying to survive. “

Of course, it doesn’t stop once you’re outside the boardroom

“Mind games are probably the most important thing in there. Don’t forget, on the cameras, you can say what you want and you can be portrayed however you want. But behind the cameras is where the real mind games start.” 

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The Apprentice continues on Thursday at 9:00pm on BBC1