The Apprentice producers beg Lord Sugar not to fire attractive candidates says Nick Hewer

When it comes to the BBC1 business show, it doesn't necessarily pay to have the sharpest brain admits Lord Sugar's former aide

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Producers on The Apprentice value looks over business acumen, and sometimes attempt to persuade Lord Sugar to keep candidates they think are more attractive in the process for longer, according to the business guru’s former aide Nick Hewer.

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Hewer says that during his time on the BBC show it was not unknown for producers to beg Apprentice boss Lord Sugar to point his firing finger at one of the less easy on the eye contestants, even if the candidate he was considering showing the door deserved to go.

“I say to him, ‘Oh, by the way Alan, the blonde: he or she is as thick as a fridge door, and I urge you with every fibre of your being, get rid of them, because they’re going to let you down,” said Hewer.

“And the producers will say, ‘Do you think you could find it in your heart to not get rid of the blonde just yet?’”

But Lord Sugar doesn’t pander to the requests, Hewer tells The Sun: “He will say ‘the blonde will go when the blonde deserves to go’.”

It’s not as if Apprentice candidates are necessarily the brainiest bunch the business world has to offer anyway, admits Hewer – and that’s one of the secrets of the show’s success.

“You might say, ‘Are these the brightest people with the best prospects?’, and I would say ‘No, not necessarily’.

“If you really got the brightest kids the danger is that no one would understand what they’re doing.

“What would happen — because this is how it happens — is it would be on BBC 14 at 3am, with six viewers, and the commissioning editor would be taken out of his office, led by the elbow to a brick wall, where he would be machine gunned.

“It’s all about the viewers. If you don’t deliver the numbers, you’re out. Which is why it’s been running now for twelve years.”

Hewer also revealed something else that viewers have long suspected – that an over the top CV is one way to help your chances of being selected for the process.

“The big key, to anyone thinking of applying, is make sure on your CV, you say something so outrageous that the producer goes straight to you and says, ‘That’ll do’.”

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A spokesperson from The Apprentice told RadioTimes.com: “All firing decisions throughout The Apprentice are down to Lord Sugar’s own judgement, and solely based on his opinion about who he believes should be fired after every task.