The Apprentice boss Lord Alan Sugar pushed for a change to be made this season (Picture: PA)
Last year the business-style reality game show was slammed by viewers who accused Lord Sugar’s advisors of ‘bullying’ contestants.
In one particularly tense episode, Marnie Swindells, who went on to win the series, Rochelle Anthony, Dani Donovan, Victoria Goulbourne and Megan Horny were quizzed on their business plans in interviews chaired by Claude Littner, Linda Plant, Mike Souter and Baroness Karren Brady.
However, the aides were criticised for their actions in the controversial episode, in which the candidate’s business plans were torn to shreds by the experts.
It was Megan who received a particularly tough time, being told by Karren that her online sweet business was as ‘crazy as it comes’ and had ‘no depth or substance’.
When Megan thanked Karren for the interview, the businesswoman snapped back: ‘It’s Baroness Brady to you, my friends call me Karren.’
Last year Baroness Karren Brady was slammed for the way she spoke to some candidates (Picture: PA)
Soon after Lord Sugar said he’d ordered a change to the series, which first hit screens in 2005, after being left unhappy with what he’d witnessed.
After viewers slammed the way the experts spoke to the contestants, Lord Sugar admitted an employee wouldn’t have been spoken to the same way in a real-life business situation.
‘I agree. I think we need to tone that down a bit. I found it hard to watch,’ he said in an interview with The Times.
‘Unfortunately, when that was recorded, I wasn’t there.
Megan, far right, was told her business had ‘no depth or substance’ (Picture: BBC/ Fremantlemedia Limited)
‘Anyway, I’m not making any excuses. When I saw it in the end, I thought, “This is too harsh’, and we’re going to tone it down now”.’
Going forward the upcoming season, which launches this week, is set to be a lot less brutal after Lord Sugar said what unfolded wasn’t ‘entertaining’.
‘I don’t think it’s entertaining. It used to be entertaining. All the previous boardroom [episode] 11s were entertaining. This one was very harsh. I agree with you. I’ve told them now. Believe me, it won’t be happening again,’ he added when speaking to the publication.
At the time, one viewer accused the advisors of appearing to ‘bully the finalists’ while others threatened to boycott the series after the ‘nasty’ interviews.
The businessman said what unfolded was too ‘harsh’ (Picture: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock)
But Lord Sugar also claimed Karren insisted she had been edited to look ‘hard’ and blamed the production company for making things seem worse than they were.
He then went on to say the production company ‘only wanted to deal with bang, bang, bang moments’.
At the time, a spokesperson for the series also said the interviews round was ‘more than just a normal interview’.
‘Its purpose is to help determine whose business plan has the potential to secure the £250k investment,’ they said.
‘As such, every detail must be thoroughly scrutinised and advisors will at times need to ask difficult questions.’
They went on to say the stakes were ‘high’ for candidates and ‘emotions do run high as they want to secure a place in the final’.
Once again this season, the candidates have a chance at walking away with a £250,000 investment, with those competing including a failed Dragons’ Den star, two pie experts, a 00s one-hit wonder and a body popper who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent.
The Apprentice returns on Thursday at 9pm on BBC One.
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