HE’S the Essex boy whose barmy catchphrases made him must-watch viewing during 2014’s edition of The Apprentice.
Now, Daniel Lassman – ‘Lass’ to his mates – has revealed what being on Lord Sugar’s reality show is really like, from shock claims producers “manipulate” storylines to fame-hungry contestants “faking romances”.
Pulled into the boardroom a staggering four times – before going on to take third place in the competition – the 31-year-old, who owns weeklyquiz.co.uk, learned a thing or two while ducking the firing finger of doom.
One thing that helped boost Daniel’s screen time was his cringe-inducing one-liners – “there’s no I in team but there’s five in individual brilliance” – so, are these slogans fed to participants by the producers?
“They want these one-liners. It got me on the show and it was called ‘playing the game’,” he exclusively told The Sun Online. “Do they provide it? No. Do they encourage it? 100 per cent.”
Daniel claims the “camera guy was putting his thumbs up” as he reeled off howlers.
The loudmouth also says the crew are “definitely egging on” the contestants to bicker, fall out and generally hate one another to create dramatic TV.
“The whole situation is manipulated into storylines, I really believe that,” he said. “I once had an argument with Felipe [a lawyer who was given the boot in week nine] for not letting me sell something.
“A producer held up a sign, written on a bit of paper, that said, ‘Remember Daniel, Lord Sugar told you it’s about sales. Make sure Felipe knows about it’ – with loads of exclamation marks.
“I took that as they wanted me to argue. I just went with it and let them manipulate me to stay in the show longer.”
Daniel believes contestants who wise up to the tricks and “perform” go further. He added: “If I didn’t argue all the time I believe that would have gone against me. I’m performing in the overall show storylines.
“If it was all a fun, friendly show, there would be no show – you need the arguments and romances. The BBC aren’t stupid. If they don’t have that, they don’t have a show.”
He believes there is more emphasis on this than business credentials. “When you put through your business plan, I don’t believe it’s looked at,” he said. He claims producers just “want to find dirt on you”.
Daniel, who married his long-term girlfriend Sophie Stoll in September 2015, believes many contestants fake relationships to increase their profile and bag other reality deals.
“100 per cent. A contestant openly told me he wanted to go on Big Brother,” he said. “He wasn’t even a businessman. It was a reality check.”
Life inside the plush Apprentice pad – that in the past has featured a cinema and hot tub – sounds incredibly mundane. “I wish I could tell you about all the crazy nights we had but unfortunately not, no,” he said.
“It’s all rumours. I’d love to say there were mass orgies but I’m married and was there for a different reason.”
MOST READ IN TV
Grab a copy of ok magazine this week to read our wedding interview. #wedding #okmagazine #bride #groom #interview #weddingday #weddingphotography #bridestory #Theapprentice #event #fourseasons #hampshire
A post shared by Daniel Lassman (@dan_lassman) on Sep 1, 2015 at 2:56am PDT
Daniel has compared his show experience to doing a stint in “prison”, revealing contestants stick to a strict filming schedule and have barely any time to contact loved ones. “I got a 10 minute phone call once a week,” he said.
“At one point it got down to five minutes, that’s the only time I could speak to my wife. If you were a second over they’d start looking at their watches and telling you to wrap it up.”
Contestants couldn’t even drown their sorrows as Daniel says they were only “given a bottle of wine here and there” to share. “It wasn’t even worth having half a glass,” he said.
When he felt down, Daniel turned to junk food. “When I walked in I was quite slim, by the end I’d put on a stone and a half,” he said. “I had to get a personal trainer afterwards I was in such a bad way.
“I am bored out of my brain surrounded by people I’m not mad on. I felt so bad living in these surroundings all I wanted to do was eat. Chinese, curry, pizza… for eight weeks. I could have been on Supersize Me the film.”
The Apprentice is filmed “six to eight months” before it appears on our TV screens. The contestants do not meet one another until the cameras are rolling – there’s no settling in period.
“If you’re not being filmed, it didn’t happen is the motto,” he said. “You’re not allowed to talk about tasks when you’re not being filmed. Nothing happened behind the scenes when it comes to talking to Lord Sugar or each other. They used to call that ‘task talking’.”
When Lord Sugar’s assistant calls the house and tells the contestants they have 20 minutes to get ready, this is true – but then they spend hours hanging around.
Daniel said: “You’ve got an hour to get mic’d up, be told what to do, wait for everyone else, shots of us leaving the house, shots of us getting in the car… you have 20 minutes to get ready and three hours to muck about.”
Daniel believes The Apprentice is “the tightest budget for a reality show out there”. Contestants do their own hair and make-up, plus they must supply their own clothes.
Outfits need to be approved by producers to ensure they don’t interfere with the cameras and they look appropriate. “James Hill, who won Celebrity Big Brother, was mentally into his style,” he said. “They made him wear a tie. I remember he was one of the ones who wouldn’t conform.”
The contestants perform “two tasks each week”, which lasts for two to three days. They are forbidden from using their phones, the internet or to tap up their contacts.
Daniel said: “If I had my phone on me, not being arrogant, but I’d get the tasks done very quickly.
“Running around London with a map makes much better viewing then me saying, ‘Let me just Google this’. How stupid do we look running round with a map?
“I’ve got so many business connections but you’re not allowed to speak to anyone you know. It’s stupid because the business world is full of contacts and that’s the reason we get on in the real world.”
In his experience, Daniel says the boardroom scenes are the “most realistic part of business”.
“That is really dog-eat-dog. That is the only part I thought, ‘wow, I need to put my game face on’,” he said. “It can be one to two hours, depending on how hard the argument is, how complex it is. It does genuinely matter.”
A post shared by Daniel Lassman (@dan_lassman) on Jan 10, 2015 at 9:21am PST
To survive the series, he believes you need to have “rhinoceros skin” and your wits about you. “I had a lot of people who were sharky, they were lovely but as soon as the cameras were on they’d destroy you,” he said.
“I became quite vicious in the boardroom. People didn’t like me behind the camera because of that. I didn’t get too offended.”
Meanwhile, meet The Apprentice candidates for 2017, from a boxer to a hip-hop dancer.
And, here’s what the previous Apprentice winners are up to now.
THE APPRENTICE’S RESPONSE TO DANIEL LASSMAN’S CLAIMS
The Sun Online put Daniel Lassman’s allegations to The Apprentice team. Here is their response:
- On claims that producers encourage the contestants to say one-liners. “Candidates act of their own free will and the show is not in any way scripted,” commented a spokesperson.
- Following allegations productions “egg on” the contestants to fall out and bicker. The spokesperson said: “We take our duty of care to the candidates throughout filming very seriously and strongly refute any allegations to the contrary. However, as with the nature of the show, the cameras are always on and if tensions do rise between candidates it’s likely to be caught on camera.”
- The spokesperson said they “strongly disagree” with Daniel’s claims “that storylines are in any way scripted or manipulated”.
- Daniel claimed contestants who perform for the cameras go further in the process. A spokesperson from The Apprentice said:“Lord Sugar judges candidates solely on their performance on each task.”
- A spokesperson refuted claims the business plans aren’t looked at. They commented: “The selected candidates reveal the top line of their business plan to Lord Sugar at the beginning of the process, and their fate then hangs on their performance in the tasks until the ‘Interviews’ episode when Lord Sugar’s trusted interviewers will consider the strength of the candidates’ full business plan in detail.”
- Daniel claimed that contestants only get a 10 minute phone call with their family. The spokesperson said: “Candidates are allowed to make calls home at least once a week. We also allow them to make calls more frequently if required as part of our duty of care to candidates; for example if they have small children.”
- On claims contestants are not allowed to discuss tasks, the spokesperson commented: “While in the house, candidates are not allowed to talk about tasks off camera to avoid any individuals gaining an unfair advantage.”
- Daniel said producers approve contestants’ clothes. “Candidates select their clothes themselves but may be advised to change if their outfit matches another candidate or has patterns that would strobe on camera,” commented a spokesperson.
- On claims contestants cannot use their phones, the internet or speak to contacts. A spokesperson from The Apprentice said: “Candidates do not have access to the internet on their mobile devices unless it is required by the task (for example, if they are launching a website).The tasks set by Lord Sugar are there to challenge the candidates to exhibit the skills needed to set up and run a business. By limiting access to the internet and mobile phones, Lord Sugar is able to clearly assess candidates’ intelligence and practical skills, while also keeping the process fair.”