“I’m the most belligerent person you’ll ever come across”

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 by

“Sleep when you’re dead – live the dream.”

“I know that life isn’t always sandwiches and picnics.”

“We work until we bleed.”

“I can be very, very offensive when I need to be.”

Quotes, there, from this year’s intake of 16 would-be apprentices. Yep, I’m back from the London Stock Exchange, and the launch of The Apprentice series three . Despite the fact there’s a new production team working on the show, it looks fantastic once again. I’ll go light on the details, suffice to say there’s some ace wrangling over who should be team leader, a lot of running around Islington and shouting into mobile phones, and a fantastic moment from Sir Alan: “I think Certus is gonna hurt us”. You’ll understand it when you see it.

But the important point – and what’s going to be the continuing soundbite that’ll open every series? It’s up for grabs, however I’m putting my money on: “You’re a total shambles – you’re fired” or, “No-one’s going to make a fool out of me!”.

As ever, Sir Al doesn’t like schmoozers: “The worst kind of schmooze that I can’t stand is ‘Sir Alan I’m just like you I came from a humble background and worked my way up.’ Well don’t lay all that rubbish on me.” 

“This is no gameshow,” he cautions. “There won’t be some busty blonde waiting outside to hug you so that you can sob into her bosoms. What there will be is a black cab waiting to take you to the station.”

It’s a point that seems to be very dear to his heart. After the screening (which prompted a spontaneous round of applause), he addressed the press, and spoke in disparaging terms about last series, which he clearly felt had been stocked up with the wrong sort of candidate. “Er… there’s a lot of regrets about last year,” he said. “Maybe turning up is perhaps the biggest regret. Look, I’m in an awkward situation in having to bite my tongue about what I think. That’s all I can say at this moment in time. Next question.”

He did, however, go on to reveal that he’d engaged in serious discussions with Talkback Thames before agreeing to go again this time around. And reckons the current crop – bar the first person out the door in episode one – are all the right sort.

He also revealed that the show is going to continue much the same as before, citing the US series’ penchant for twists, turns and tweaks on the format as something that “backfired”. That said, with 16 people and 12 weeks, the UK show’s first multiple sacking has to be on the cards.

The Apprentice hits BBC1 on Wednesday 28 March.


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