When asked about whether he was surprised at contestants’ blunders 14 seasons into the show, Lord Sugar said: “The program itself is an entertainment program as well as a business program.
“Those ‘stupid’ people you’re talking to run six very successful businesses, one of which has made a million pounds this year, and the others are closely far behind them.”
He added: “The process is that we do find a winner in the end and the people try to fight for the position in the early stages, they sometimes say things that sound a bit silly, but they’re not that daft really.”
Lord Sugar’s defence of contestants comes just one week before the broadcast of the first episode of season 14.
Claude Littner agreed with the celebrity entrepreneur, noting: “Not one of them is actually stupid, they’re all working very very hard, and the tasks – you may be watching tv thinking ‘I can do that’ – I assure you, you can’t.”
“It’s a lot more complex than you think,” he said. “They’re really trying hard, and it’s really difficult when you get a group who don’t know each other – they’re fighting for a position – it’s much much harder than it looks, believe me.”
The first episode of the new series sees the budding business moguls sent on a plane to Malta to carry out the item-collection challenge, in which they have to pick up nine specific purchases with a number of barriers in their way.
One mistake made by the boys’ team, who were followed by fellow adviser Karren Brady, included buying a real octopus rather than a piece of diving gear named after the mollusc.
Karren also chimed in and added that sometimes mistakes like this can still be difficult not to giggle at.
“I had to step outside when they bought the octopus, because I just thought I would be laughing so much they would know that they were buying the wrong thing.”
“They do work hard, they’re not all stupid,” she added. “But they do do some stupid things. I mean, if you actually really thought about it, who would ask for an octopus with a ‘fourteen inch hose’ – and think it’s a real octopus?”
Karren added that being overly-ambitious and overly-motivated can be a learning curve for contestants early on in the series. “The problem is they all think they’re brilliant, they think they’re the perfect person who’s going to win, and they’re full of enthusiasm and energy, but immediately they begin to realise that it is difficult, everything takes a lot more time.”
Karren said, however, that this willingness to get stuck in is nonetheless impressive: “What’s incredible is that literally Alan says to them: ’thanks very much for coming, here’s a map, here’s some euros, go and find me nine items, and off they go.”
Episode on of the new season of ‘The Apprentice’ will air at 9pm on 3rd October, on BBC One.