1 There are 18 new candidates as the series returns, all intent on winning a £250,000 business investment from Lord Alan Sugar. “I would love to tell you who to look out for, but I’m not allowed to!” says Lord Sugar’s adviser, Karren Brady.
“They’ve all been chosen because they think they’re business experts.”
2 What challenges can we expect during the 12-part series? “There’s an interior design task,” reveals Karren. “They had to put on a premium corporate experience at Wembley, sell tickets to a walking tour in Bruges, Belgium, and run a doggy daycare business.”
3 The first task is about selling food, and burgers were dish of the day. “The team I was following described their burgers as ‘luxury’ – but I would describe them as ‘sub-standard’,” laughs Karren.
4 Episode one also features five previous winners, including last year’s champion, baker Alana Spencer: “When Alana joined the process, she had a really good idea but was crippled by a lack of self-confidence – but she got her voice heard. You never know if someone is going to have that experience, or if the show is just going to be too much for them.”
5 Karren and her fellow adviser Claude Littner remain as aloof as ever. “We’re not there to be their friends, we’re there to observe,” she says. “It’s one of the very few TV shows that isn’t scripted – and you never really know when you’re being filmed. No one says: ‘Pull a face’ or ‘Roll your eyes now.’”
6 Prepare for more of Lord Sugar’s brilliantly bitchy quotes, including: “You say the most important thing in business is to have fun… Do me and Claude look like the Chuckle Brothers?”
7 And some gems from this year’s candidates? Elizabeth McKenna, 39, owner of a florist chain: “My big feet are good for two things: getting me into trouble as they’re as big as my mouth and I constantly get them stuck in it, and they also kick butt.” And Elliot Van Emden, 31, boss of a legal firm: “Sometimes to get to the top, you have to grease the pole behind you.”
8 There’s a new on-demand spin-off this year, as former Xtra Factor presenter Matt Edmondson hosts iPlayer exclusive Meet The Candidates, which features extras such as highlights from the hopefuls’ audition tapes.
9 Any rivalry between Lord Sugar and Baroness Brady is strictly sport-related. “The only thing we tease each other about is football” laughs the West Ham United CEO. “Occasionally I have a little dig at Tottenham Hotspur and he has a little dig at West Ham. Claude is a Spurs supporter as well so it’s two against one, but it’s all good-humoured.”
10 Who will emerge as the real star of this series? The Apprentice has launched reality-TV careers for the likes of Katie Hopkins, Luisa Zissman and Karthik Nagesan, but that’s a poor second prize as far as Karren is concerned: “When contestants apply for The Apprentice, they apply to win. But if they don’t get the first prize, I suppose they have to put up with some sort of consolation.”
NEW! The Apprentice Wednesday 9pm BBC1
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