It’s been 15 years since the very first candidates made their way into the boardroom and now Lord Sugar, Baroness Brady and Claude Littner are looking back at the wheeler dealers, smooth salespeople, tough tasks and even tougher interviews in The Apprentice Best Bits.
The brand-new 6×60’ series, produced by Boundless (Part of Fremantle), will air weekly, starting from 1 October at 9pm on BBC One. The show will feature all of the highs and lows from series one to 15 of the beloved business show including the most memorable characters, their globetrotting antics in the foreign tasks and of course, those terrifying interviews. From the unforgettable successes to the squirm-inducing failures, no stone will be left unturned.
Lord Sugar will of course be on hand to lend his own take on events with his inimitable plain-speaking style, while trusted advisors Baroness Brady and Claude Littner will also be sharing their thoughts on the candidates’ antics, trials and tribulations in the series’ so far.
Baroness Karren Brady tells us more…
How did you enjoy going down memory lane for the new Best Bits series?
It has been incredible. You forget how many standout moments there have been over the last 15 years! There were lots of cringing and toe curling moments as well as lots of laughter. It just goes to show what a brilliant series it is and why it goes from strength to strength.
Do you find yourself warming to the characters personally even though you know some of them have no chance of winning?!
Yes I do. We all really tend to like the cheeky chappies like Thomas Skinner from the last series. We all liked him even though we knew he wouldn’t win. He had a raw honesty about him and he was a good egg. We all liked that.
Do you think contestants’ attitudes towards the tasks have changed over the years?
Definitely. When the series changed from getting a job to having an investment in a business you owned 50/50 with Alan Sugar, I think it invited different types of people to apply – those who didn’t want to work for other people but who wanted to set up their own business. One of the great things about this series is it really does change people’s lives. If you look at the previous winners, they are turning over millions of pounds, they are profitable, employing a lot of people – this is life changing.
Given the contestants know what to expect nowadays, have your expectations of them got higher?
You would think that (in terms of what to expect) but it’s the same every year. Every time the series starts, the first thing we ask them to do is come up with a team name and most of them come along without even having thought about it or have a name they can’t spell or they don’t know what it means! That is the first clue that nobody has learnt anything!
What have been your favourite foreign tasks?
We have been to some incredible places – New York, Dubai, Ireland and Bruges – but for me without exception, it was last year when we went to South Africa. I had never been before. I went on the safari trip with the candidates. I think it would have been a whole lot better trip if they weren’t there but they were there! It was an incredible place.
Which tasks do you like the most?
I think the advertising task is always one of the good ones because it involves a lot of strategy, pitching, ideas, creativity, design as well as the one I call the negotiation task when Alan says ‘find me these ten objects’ as that is about logistics, planning and negotiation – and those are the pillars to the series.
What has been your favourite interview with the final five candidates?
I think my best interview ever was with Paul Kemsley when he asked Lee McQueen to do the pterodactyl impression standing on the chair. And he did it! Paul then asked ‘why did you do that? You are not taking it seriously!’ and he absolutely slaughtered him! (Lee went on to win the series in 2008).
What have you learned over the years doing the Apprentice?
The thing I have learned is you really don’t know what you are capable of until you try. There are people who come into this process who have never done a pitch – they find they can pitch; they have never been creative – they find they can be creative; they have never negotiated – they find they are great negotiators. It pushes you.
Which Apprentice winners have really stood out for you?
I liked Dr Leah who I thought was incredibly professional; Mark Wright was the right person for Alan to invest in; Ricky Martin really grew up during the series and he is now running a successful business. Tom the inventor was an unlikely winner but he has gone on to be very successful.
What’s the secret behind the Apprentice’s success?
You have an opportunity to change your life. The only competition is yourself. I think we have been put in positions where we have had to present and negotiate in our business careers and it is interesting to see how other people do it. I think people like to see people having a go and trying.
What did you think of the junior Apprentice series?
Incredible. They were such smart individuals and they had a real sense of what they wanted to do and achieve. We won a Bafta for it and I hope it comes back at some point.
Who have been your favourite celebrities who have helped raise money for charity over the years?
I did the very first celebrity programme and I was the project manager on it. I had a great team of girls who got on very well – Cheryl, Maureen Lipman, Jo Brand, Trinny Woodall – and we had a great time. It was a brilliant start to a brilliant concept. The women’s team has won every single time!
And finally, are you looking forward to being Alan’s ‘eyes and ears’ for hopefully a new series in 2021?
Yes. I have been doing the Apprentice for 12/13 years and it has been a long time. It has been weird not doing it this year, as it is very much a fixture in my life. I have missed it and all the things that go with it. I am raring to go for next year.
The Apprentice streams via BBC iPlayer.