The announcement that Claude Littner will be Nick Hewer's replacement as one set of Lord Sugar's eyes and ears in The Apprentice has more than likely struck fear in to the group of hopefuls that are looking to have the chance to win the £250,000 investment.
On the face of things, the tough talking Littner could turn each stage of the process in to something far more bloody than anything Game of Thrones can come up with but will he actually be an injection in to the long running series that'll breathe fresh life into the format and bring a new perspective?
One person that has faced down the intimidating Littner and come out the other side to tell the tale is 2013 series winner Dr. Leah Totton and she is very enthusiastic about Littner having more screen time and a greater say in who will become Lord Sugar's business partner.
"I think it's fantastic for the show," reckons Totton, "he's the natural choice really as he's always the person that viewers look forward to seeing when it comes to the interview stage."
Over the past ten years, it has been this stage that a lot of candidates have seen their best laid plans go up in smoke as Littner pulls apart their business plans with the enthusiasm of a dog with a new bone. It is fair to say that there won't be any opportunities to try and pull the wool over his eyes when the new candidates try to 'play the game' during the next series.
Totton found the thought of meeting him an intimidating prospect. "Sitting and waiting is definitely terrifying but I actually got on very well with him. I have huge respect for his fantastic business mind and he will give a great insight in to what has been going on to Lord Sugar."
It does seem that Littner is not a bulldog all of the time though as Totton continues, "he's actually very likeable and despite being a formidable character, off-screen he is great and extremely personable."
The new candidates shouldn't raise their hopes too much as this side is probably kept for the series winners and probably not one that will show itself during the weekly tasks. They should still be very wary of ending up on his wrong side as Totton reminds us, "his professionalism will mean that he will be not one to cross at any point."
Of course as winner of The Apprentice, it means that Totton not only impressed Littner but had a proposition that interested Lord Sugar and in the past 18 months, she has proved to be one of the most successful winners of the series.
"I'm absolutely delighted with how Dr. Leah Cosmetic Clinic is thriving. I am now a spokesperson for safety in the cosmetic industry, we launch our first product, a miracle eye cream, later this year and look forward to opening more Dr Leah Clinics. Lord Sugar has been fantastic and has helped out no end with the strategic side of the business whilst letting me run and grow the business day-to-day. Also, his support team from accounts to HR have been a great help which I wouldn't have had as a sole trader."
So, triumphing in The Apprentice can unlock opportunities that wouldn't previously be available but are there any tips so that the next set don't fall foul of Littner before the process gathers momentum? Totton's advice is quite simple.
"Don't over complicate the process. Keep focused and try to win each individual task and don't get involved in the game playing or back-stabbing that happens. It worked for me."
There already feels an increase in interest in the next series of The Apprentice as the prospect of Claude Littner being unleashed every week sounds like great entertainment. All that remains to be seen is whether four candidates will make it to the interview stage, at which point they'll breathe a sigh of relief that they won't have to face the indomitable businessman one-to-one.Suggest a correction