Whether they’re peddling hot sauce doughnuts or flaunting misnamed robots, The Apprentice really does let loose a gaggle of candidates on the public. But do the public actually buy and keep the products sold to them?
Absolutely yes: despite the shots of cash passing hands looking suspiciously staged on screen, the transactions you see on The Apprentice are done with real money. Sales aren't faked for the camera and customers are not refunded later by the production team.
In fact,former candidates Bushra Shaikh and Andrew Brady told RadioTimes.com many sales are made by card, too – “we do have a card machine with us – and a lot of people pay that way. A shot of cash changing hands just conveys a sale better on TV, doesn't it?” explained Bushra.
So, if this money is real then the profits made by the teams are real too. But where does the money go? Does it help pay for the winning team’s treat at the end of the task? Does it go towards the cars the candidates have running the entire day? Or is the whole thing, as Brady joked to us, “a money laundering operation for the production team”?
The answer the show gave to RadioTimes.com via an Apprentice spokesperson is: “Any profit made from the sale of products created in the programme is given to charity.”
Now, not only does this make for a pleasant surprise, but it could have a drastic impact on the way we watch the show. The in-team bickering, the cringe-inducing audition videos, the brutal boardroom casualties: all of it is actually for a really good cause. Turns out the show has raised thousands for charity.
Dare we say it, we might even be cheering for the candidates to do well on street-selling tasks.
Don’t worry though, you can still relish any mess-ups candidates make in pitches to big retailers guilt-free. Although The Apprentice didn’t respond to our question, we can gather that large-scale orders (such as the ones seen in last series' comic-book task) aren’t real and merely representative of how that company act. And if there are no real profits, any terrible performances might not scupper what could have been a substantial charitable donation.
This new information about the profits isn’t just important for viewers, but for any budding Apprentice candidates too. If you find yourself competing for Lord Sugar’s £250,000 then there’s more pressure on you than you first thought: as well as trying to avoid a painfully embarrassing cock-up on national TV (we’re looking at you, Pants Man), it turns out any major mistakes you make could slash a sizable contribution to charity.
So with this in mind, could future candidates work together to rake in as much money as possible for a good cause? Will they be nicer to one another and lay down any bitterness for the good of those less fortunate? Answer: of course not. But this revelation does mean that even if they do fail a task, candidates in the losers cafe can still celebrate their charitable work.
The Apprentice is on 9pm Wednesdays, BBC1