THE Apprentice has returned to the BBC and as viewers see the hopefuls in a grueling battle for Lord Sugar they should remember that their reality is even worse than it seems.
The hit BBC show is giving contestants a chance to bag a whopping £250,000 investment from Alan Sugar, but the path to cash is devastating.
Lord Sugar and his assistant Karren Brady’s demanding challenges are known to test even the toughest entrepreneurs, but some struggle more than others.
At the end of each episode, Sugar banishes the hopefuls who falter the hardest as he famously declares, “You’re fired.”
But aside from what viewers get to see on the small screen, what is the reality of the experience?
Contestants shared a stunning behind-the-scenes look at the series, from a draconian sex ban to enforced silence.
Those sad scenes of fired contestants wheeling their suitcases out of Sugar’s office and into a waiting black cab are actually filmed before the contest begins.
Taking to Twitter, Claude Littner announced that for continuity, they are asked to wear coats and scarves.
He wrote: “All shots are taken before the show begins. They are wrapped for ‘continuity’ reasons, not to show that the clothing is not what will be worn when shooting.”
The show’s bosses don’t want romance or lust to stand in the way of serious business, as has been the case in the past when contestants have been left boisterous at the shared mansion.
A source told the Mirror: “Couples suddenly disappeared and there were several times they were found upstairs under the covers kissing”.
Lord Sugar has since announced the Is not Love Island show and tasked staff with monitoring entrepreneurs much more closely than before.
Participants are denied internet access during the process to ensure they cannot engage in shady deals.
They are also only allowed one short phone call per day with a pre-approved person who has signed a non-disclosure agreement, and in addition all letters are screened.
Lottie Lion revealed she had no idea at the time of her departure that Theresa May was no longer Prime Minister or that Meghan Markle had given birth to Archie.
Speaking on TikTok, she added, “My nana used to write me letters and large sections were hidden.”
2015 winner Joseph Valente revealed the contestants work grueling 18-hour days and are forbidden from speaking to each other unless the camera is rolling.
The father of one child said they would remain silent for hours before going to the boardroom waiting area, only to sit in silence for a few more hours until the receptionist called them in.
The receptionist who announces “Lord Sugar will see you now” is actually not a real receptionist but an actress – currently Ashley Young.
Lord Sugar is not responsible for his own quips, according to Lottie, who has claimed: “They’re all written and he’s got a piece of paper and he’s marking them as he says them.”
However, Ryan-Mark Parsons told a different story on Twitter, writing: “Lottie’s claims about The Apprentice are completely false”.
“As I am the recipient of many of Lord Sugar’s jokes, I can assure you they are unscripted,” he added.
Karren has previously confessed that filming wraps up in just five weeks, forcing sleepy contestants to get started at dawn.
“The assignment has to be set very early in the morning so they have enough time,” she said, adding that filming often lasts until 10 p.m.
The teaser added, “The only couple of days they have off is when the interviews come in… everyone ends up done.”
Frances Bishop has also shared that the time allotted for assignments is very short, telling Radio Times: “The public is thinking of you [have] eight hours of sale – not really because you have a camera crew with you, you have to clear spots to film”.