Over the past 12 weeks of The Apprentice we’ve seen 18 hopeful candidates blunder their way through a variety of tasks, making mistake after mistake and apparently coming up with the worst ideas known to humankind (racist gin, anyone?)
Sometimes it seems no wonder that people have dubbed this year’s cohort of contestants the worst in the show’s history (Claude Littner might have something to say about that) – but then again, we’re not being told the whole story.
You see, when on task there are all sorts of behind-the-scenes rules and regulations the candidates must deal with that the viewing public don’t see – and with that in mind, for the past few weeks we’ve been asking this year’s candidates about the backstage Apprentice secrets that can cause all sorts of problems.
Candidates do NOT have as long on a task as we’re told
If you’ve ever wondered how the candidates manage to dither away so much of their allotted time, it’s not all their fault – because what seems like a full day is soon cut down by filming restrictions.
“You don’t actually get as long as you think on task,” final five candidate Frances Bishop (who was fired after Thursday’s interview task) told RadioTimes.com.
“So the public think you had eight hours selling, in reality you don’t because you have a camera crew with you, you’ve got to clear places for filming, and you’re there going, ‘I just want to sell these sweets!’
“You’re running up and down Brighton high street, and you think it’s just you with eight candidates, but you’ve actually got a sound guy, a camera crew, and then you’ve got poor Karren [Brady] following after you, so – you don’t realise any of these things, I think.”
And they’re also forced to take a break, no matter how busy they are
You might think that snacking wouldn’t be high on the candidates’ priorities during a busy task – but when you’re on a working BBC TV production, these things aren’t always up to you.
“There’s lots of difficulties that might not come across,” fired candidate Dillon St Paul told RadioTimes.com.
“You might have to break for lunch, for example, and in the real world if you had a really pressing deadline you might not do that, but you kind of HAVE to [on the Apprentice].”
Google is forbidden – as is asking friends for help
Could you could live without Google helping you find your way around and answering simple questions for you? Imagine trying it while on a task…
“When people see the show they say ‘oh you know what why didn’t you just Google it?’” fired candidate Karthik Nagesan told RadioTimes.com. “Or why didn’t he just go and ask his friend to buy from him and increase the sales?
“It is not so easy. Because in the process, probably you are not allowed to do it. Probably you’re not allowed to Google stuff, or search stuff on the internet, or probably you’re not allowed to ask a friend.”
But everything is kept extremely fair
Despite many of the limitations they’re given, most candidates agree that they’re fair – because both teams are stuck in the exact same situation.
“Both sets of teams will get the same amount of time to brainstorm,” Karthik told us, “and then, you’re not allowed internet access.
“And then you’re only allowed the materials they give you, and you have to sit in a certain area. Like you know, if they said ‘we go to this room and brainstorm, this is the material you’re given, and that’s it.’ And the other people will be given the same.
“So these are the checks and balances. You’ll have to stay in one place, you won’t have access to the internet, you’ll have access to the materials that they’ll give you. You can’t call the people as you would in a real-life business meeting and then get opinions. “
“They are equal to both teams,” Dillon agreed of the rules. “So it’s all relative, do you know what I mean?”
Silence is golden during the interview task, which takes longer than you’d expect
According to this year’s final five, the hour-long interview episode takes a gruelling 12 hours to film – and the whole process is a lot more boring than it appears.
“You see us [the candidates] talking between interviews, but we only literally do that talking for about two or three minutes before each task and then sit in silence for 20 minutes to half an hour,” 2016 finalist Courtney Wood told RadioTimes.com.
“I’d say mentally it’s kind of tough sitting in silence for such a long time, trying to psych yourself up.”
“They want to keep you on your game, so for that reason they make you not talk before you go into each interview,” fellow finalist Alana explained.
“Unless somebody comes down. You’re given a little bit of time to discuss how it all went.”
And there’s a reason most candidates don’t seem to have done much after getting fired
It turns out that the secrecy all 18 Apprentice candidates sign up for extends into their own businesses – even if they already knew they weren’t getting Lord Sugar’s investment.
“If I was to set up a new business I couldn’t promote it,” final five candidate Grainne McCoy told us. “That would tell the viewers that I didn’t win. That’s a rule.”
So in conclusion, maybe they’re not quite so incompetent after all
“Whatever you see on the screen happens because there are checks and balances,” Karthik told us. “People say you can’t do this, or you’re supposed to do it this way just to be fair.”
“On the camera, they come across as silly mistakes, but they’re not real. We are all normal, intelligent people, we’re not silly. People talk in the media about this being the worst set of candidates in history. We are not silly guys – we’re normal people with common sense.
“It’s just due to the nature of the rules that are in place, both to be fair as well as probably make good TV, that it comes across the way it does.”
Hopefully, during tonight’s final we viewers can be a bit more understanding.
The Apprentice final airs on BBC1 tonight (Sunday 18th December) at 9.00pm