The host of The Apprentice, Lord Alan Sugar, says when the entrepreneurial contest returns in 2021 he hopes that he will present the show for another five seasons.
“I said last year that I wanted to do 20 years. We would have been doing series 16 this year and I was happy to do four more. But of course it is the BBC who will decide if they wish to do it. I fully understand they are in charge but if they wanted to do it, I think 20 years is a nice round figure.”
In the absence of the normal series, axed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lord Sugar, 73, would present The Apprentice Best Bits, which is set to air from Thursday 1st October on BBC One.
The Apprentice Best Bits will review the highlights, the memorable tasks, the characters and the stars of 15 seasons of the iconic reality programme, an innovation that he said was “a clever idea” and which had been very enjoyable to make.
Some previous stars of The Apprentice would feature in Best Bits and Lord Alan explained who they invited back and why.
“We sat down and looked at which outstanding characters we needed to bring in. Paul Torrisi rolled straight off my tongue! Ruth Badger was another one. In later years, we had last year’s candidate Thomas Skinner. If you sit down and think about it, there have been some great characters.”
Lord Sugar said he “absolutely” did not know which Apprentice would win each series the first time he saw them. “Some start off and they are very impressive and then he/she goes off a bit and then someone else starts to rise and the cream starts to rise to the top. The process is brilliant because you can start to see people who have got a good brain understand what they have got to do.”
After 15 seasons he could be forgiven for tiring of the concept, but not a bit. “What motivates me is going back to my old days of starting a business from scratch. I love that idea of keeping my hand in and proving it can be done. It’s enjoyable, as simple as that.”
What was the secret of The Apprentice’s longevity? “We have got beautiful photography, a great production team and an audience that is forever growing. Someone who was 2-3 years old when the series started is now 18. That is our new audience. The show inspires young people.”
Inspiration was an obvious motivation to the business mogul, as he reflected on his favourite past winners.
“They are all very different and they are all great people in their own way. You’ve got Tom [Pellereau, 2011 winner] the inventor, who is not a businessman but he has been made into one and he is great. You’ve got Dr Leah [Totton, 2013 winner] who now has three clinics and she has done very well. Ricky Martin [2012 winner] has done exceptionally well in the recruitment industry, too. My latest winner, Carina [Lepore], has just opened up her second bake house and so she is doing well.”
The Apprentice had changed over the years, something that was primarily dictated by the change in the winner’s prize.
“If you recall initially, the prize was to work for me. After series six, I said it wasn’t working out properly because it was very difficult to find a position for someone where there weren’t any positions available. I changed it to going into partnership with a winner and that has been very successful. What we are looking for is business acumen – either someone who has got a good idea, is a grafter and who I can teach them about the business side or someone who has business nous but needs guidance on other aspects of business.”
How would he be doing if he entered the programme as a young businessman? “Winning! There is no question of it!”
The Apprentice Best Bits airs from Thursday 1st October, 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer