The Apprentice – five tips for making it onto the next series

With applications for series nine now open, Paul Jones has some expert advice for aspiring candidates...

Yes, there are still two episodes to go in this year’s Apprentice but today Lord Sugar took to Twitter to invite applications for the next series. Apparently, he’s looking for someone with “flair and drive” – but don’t worry, that’s the winner he’s talking about. What if you just want to get on the show in the first place (your ultimate aim, to claim a free makeover when you go on You’re Fired)? What are the producers looking for in prospective Apprentice failures? Here are my five top tips…


1. Get yourself a catchphrase

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon,” warned Melody Hossaini last year in one of the best-loved examples of the candidate catchphrase. True, it may not have been entirely her own work but I’m pretty sure this gentleman didn’t make the decision to have it tattooed on his arms after reading Dorothy Parker.

If you can’t come up with anything meaningful, take a leaf out of current candidate Ricky Martin’s book and at least come up with something that rhymes. “I truly am the reflection of perfection,” says Ricky the wrestler. And if Ricky’s the reflection, then Stuart Baggs: The Brand is perfection itself, combining both rhyme and meaning in one elegant quote: “Everything I touch turns to sold.” Just think about that for a second, ladies and gentlemen, just think about that…

2. Compare yourself to an animal

Much like Native Americans, Apprentice candidates put a lot of store in animal totems. Dogs are popular, with numerous female rottweilers – notably Claire Young from series four – and one or two dobermans having featured.

There’s always been a strong equine element too, although you should never tell an Apprentice candidate they’re a one-trick pony…

Jim Eastwood from series seven isn’t one – “I’m not a show pony or a one-trick pony, I’m not a jackass or a stubborn mule, and I’m definitely not a wild stallion that needs to be tamed. I am the champion thoroughbred that this process requires” – and Stuart Baggs (again) certainly isn’t one “I’m not a one-trick pony, I’m not a ten-trick pony, I have a whole field of ponies – and they’re literally all running towards this job.” Literally, Stuart? Literally…?

Wild things from the current series include Gabrielle, who explains “When it comes to business I can be like an animal and I will roar my way to the top,” and a confused Azhar, who claims to be “the killer whale of the sea world,” even though we all know that the killer whale of the sea world is, in fact, the killer whale.


3. Big yourself up

By her reckoning, Jennifer Maguire from series four was “the best saleswoman in Europe at the moment”, while series one candidate Rachel Groves said “I have incredible presence and am one of those people who fills a room even when alone” (she was being hard on herself there, she really wasn’t that big).

Of course, it’s all very well having personality and being good at business, but Lord Sugar is looking for someone with sex appeal too, right? Series three’s Simon Ambrose described himself as “sexy, competitive, proud and ambitious” (and he did, after all, win) while current candidate Tom Gearing notes “I’m confident, charismatic and some people say I’m quite good looking, so that adds to the bill.”

But those two are just wimps compared with Sandringham-trained Katie Hopkins from series three, who boasted she could “out press-up” most men – which I think is how the final should be decided.


4. Look the part

Appearance is key and by that, I mean Hoxton fin haircuts for the boys and lashings of mascara for the girls. Fascinating Apprentice fact: if you collected all the mascara ever worn in the boardroom over the eight series you could use it to build a bridge to the Moon.


5. Own a suitcase on wheels


You must own a suitcase on wheels. I repeat: you will not be asked to take part in the Apprentice if you do not own a wheelie suitcase. These tips are in no particular order – this one is the most important! If you don’t already have a suitcase on wheels, get one – and highlight it in your application.