Test-runs, fake sales and a sex ban: The huge behind the scenes secrets of The Apprentice

Yes, they do get up at 5am and only have 20 minutes to get ready


The Apprentice has become one of our favourite easy-viewing and good laughs programmes – but behind the scenes there’s a lot going on. The show is meant to be a very serious search for Lord Sugar’s next business partner, but now it’s more of a comedic view of some wannabe business owners making fools of themselves during the tasks.

From if the sales are even real, how stressful the tasks actually are and what it’s like to film the show – you probably have a lot of questions about what we see on screen. Here is a collection of some of the best kept behind the scenes production secrets of making The Apprentice.

via BBC

Some of the sales are real, but most of the big orders aren’t

Let’s get the biggest The Apprentice behind the scenes secret out the way first: Are the sales the candidates make real or not? It appears it’s half and half. When we see items being sold by the candidates on the street, these sales are real and the profits go to charity. The sales where they pitch to huge businesses and high street stores are most likely fake.

For example, when the candidates made toothbrushes and apparently high street retailers ordered 10,000 of them, you can’t actually go out and buy the product. In a report, from when B&Q had appeared on the show, someone from there said the orders were “hypothetical” and didn’t actually mean anything. Another store manager added: “No actual transaction took place”.

The exits are pre-filmed

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Have you ever wondered why the candidates leave the boardroom in huge coats and scarves after being fired? It’s to cover the fact their clothing doesn’t match what they would have just been wearing – because the two scenes aren’t filmed back to back. The scenes when the candidates leave are actually filmed before the competition even begins. On Twitter, Claude Littner said: “All the firings are done before the show starts. They are wrapped up for ‘continuity’ not to show that the clothes are not those worn when fired”.

Apparently there’s a strict sex ban in The Apprentice house

The huge house the candidates move into is reportedly a no sex zone. To avoid romances which are seen to get in the way of serious business, Lord Sugar is said to have hired staff to keep an eye on them. 👀

Contestants aren’t allowed any sort of connection to the outside world

This year, the candidates were put up in the most expensive and luxury Apprentice house to date, and it’s a good job really, because once they move in that’s it. They aren’t allowed to watch the news, be on their phones or have access to the internet once the competition gets going.

The biggest behind the scenes secrets and production facts of The Apprentice

via BBC

2019 candidate Lottie Lion says you’re only allowed one five minute call a week, and this is with someone who has signed an NDA. During filming she says candidates are chaperoned everywhere, including their trips to the toilet, so they don’t speak to the public. They are “not allowed to leave” the mansion.

They work 18-hour days and yes, they really do get up at 5am

2015 winner, Joseph Valente, has previously said that the working day for the candidates can be 18-hours long. Karren Brady added that filming can go on until around 10pm.

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In the morning, we often see everyone in the house get woken up by a phone call in the early hours and told the cars will be outside in 20 minutes to take them off to the day’s task location. Then, somehow, the women in particular always manage to look like they’ve spent hours getting ready without a hair out of a place or an under-eye bag in sight. Yep, this really does happen. Candidates are woken up at four or five am, and are usually given just a 20-minute warning.

Lord Sugar’s jokes are scripted

2019 candidate Lottie Lion confirmed that Lord Sugar’s gags aren’t actually written by him. She claims his boardroom puns are “scripted” and he has a piece of paper with them written on, which he marks off as he says them.

The biggest behind the scenes secrets and production facts of The Apprentice

via BBC

Filming actually takes only five weeks

To us, the show is spread over a couple of months – but the candidates have no connection to the outside and are working 18-hour days, so in reality the filming is much shorter. Karren Brady confirmed the show wraps in around five weeks.

The aides are only with the candidates around 30 per cent of the time

In the show it looks like Karren Brady and Tim Campbell are glued to the contestants, watching their every move on the tasks so they can report back to Lord Sugar. But, 2019’s Lottie Lion says otherwise. She claims they are only there around “30 per cent of the time” and it’s “always when you mess up because of the pressure of them being there puts you on edge.”

via BBC

Producers do test runs of the challenges

You’d think the candidates are thrown in at the deep end with how much they seem to stress and mess up the challenges, but the producers actually do test runs of the tasks to make sure they are doable. Karren said: “They do a dry run to make sure tasks are possible – that you can go out and buy those items and how much you should be getting them for. There is an enormous amount of work that goes into each task”.

The boardroom is just a set

One of the worst-kept behind the scenes secrets of The Apprentice is that the boardroom isn’t real. It’s just a set, sorry.

The biggest behind the scenes secrets and production facts of The Apprentice

via BBC

If cameras don’t pick up your sale, it didn’t happen

At the end of the tasks, the contestants go back to the boardroom and usually the team who made the most sales, and therefore the most profit, is handed the title of winning. However, 2019 The Apprentice candidate Lottie Lion says this isn’t always calculated fairly, as sales which are made behind the scenes during the day aren’t even counted towards total sales.“If it didn’t happen on camera, it didn’t happen at all,” she says. “For example, if you make a sale and it’s off camera it will not be counted towards your team winnings or your personal effort. It just didn’t happen – even if it was like £80,000.”

Thomas Skinner claims candidates lined up ‘ugliest to prettiest’ in auditions

Thomas Skinner, who appeared on the show in 2019, has claimed candidates were made to line up in order of “ugliest to prettiest” during the audition process. He says they were told to rate themselves in terms of attractiveness as producers watched on. Thomas told the Daily Star: “Before you go on the show you go through the interview stages and you’ve got people from all over – from London, from Ireland, from Manchester, and you’re in this room and they told us to line up from ugliest to prettiest. It’s carnage but there were people arguing saying ‘I’m much better looking’.”

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• So, what happened to Claude Littner and why isn’t he on The Apprentice this year?