Lord Alan Sugar Defends 'Young Apprentice', Meet The New Contestants (PHOTOS)
The business guru, who has unveiled 12 new wannabes taking part in BBC1's Young Apprentice, said the hopefuls and their parents are fully informed of what TV exposure will mean to them.
His comments came after criticism of ITV's The X Factor for including contestants as young as 16.
Lord Sugar said he was aware of the discussion about the talent show's age limit, and said: "That's why we look after them so well, we're very, very conscious of that."
He said the BBC was careful not to exploit young people and had ditched an earlier idea of Lord Sugar's to feature contestants from 14 to 16.
"We realised it was impossible to comply with the correct mentoring so that's why we upped the ante to 16 to 17-year-olds - but these kids are very well looked after.
"I won't have anything to do with it, neither would Nick (Hewer) or Karren (Brady), with exploiting youngsters, and on occasion some of them get a bit emotional and we calm down, we stop, we give them time and we move on."
Viewers will note that Lord Sugar, Nick and Karren are noticeably softer with the younger hopefuls than they are with contestants on the original series, and those who are fired travel home in Lord Sugar's Rolls Royce rather than the standard black cab.
Lord Sugar added that producers give a "complete lecture" on what to expect once the series airs, and that contestants are able to drop out of the process if they do not feel they are strong enough to take part.
Young Apprentice starts on BBC1 on Monday, October 24 at 9pm.
SLIDESHOW: Meet the new contestants...