Webb: So...it's coverage of idiots, behaving idiotically, for an audience of idiots?
Mitchell: Oh not just an audience of idiots. There'll be a lot of other people who flatter themselves by watching it with a sense of irony, as though they haven't been taken in by it.
Webb: And remind me: how do these "ironic non-idiots" show up in the ratings?Reality Show
running on NBC
since 2004. Produced by Mark Burnett
A group of contestants compete in business-related tasks to become "apprentice" to real estate mogul Donald Trump
. At the end of each task, one (or occasionally more) contestant is "fired" by the man himself. The last contestant standing is "hired" and given a job in the Trump organization.
The show's first season was a ratings sensation, but ensuing seasons have never matched that success. To date, seven seasons of the standard show have aired, as well as six celebrity seasons (in which the prize was money for charity,) and an unsuccessful Spin-Off
starring Martha Stewart.
A Transatlantic Equivalent
started on The BBC
in 2005, starring Lord Alan Sugar of Clapton, originally just called Sir Alan. Lord Sugar is probably best known for bringing low-cost consumer electronics into British homes. After doing the predictable billionaire thing of pissing his money away by buying a football club (Tottenham Hotspur FC), he eked out a living making Sky TV
decoder boxes, and even sold that to Sky a couple of years ago to concentrate on property (didn't that turn out well?). Compare this to The Donald, who owns half of New Yorknote
. Despite this however, the UK version had a reversal of fortunes compared to the US original, starting out as a little-watched niche show and gradually evolving into one of the BBC's most popular shows by around the time of its fourth series.
It's now widely accepted to be mostly watched by people who A) like to laugh at stupid people humiliating themselves and B) don't want to admit to watching Big Brother
in public. So, high viewing figures and armchair punditry all round, then.
An Irish version, starring car magnate and writer Bill Cullen, started in 2008. There are also many other international versions.Junior Apprentice
, a shorter series with ten candidates aged 16 and 17 competing for a financial prize rather than a job, aired in the UK between series 5 and 6. It proved a success and aired again after series 7, albeit renamed to Young Apprentice
. The second Young Apprentice
series earned a BAFTA
award, ensuring a third series — unfortunately, the third series proceeded to do a Face Plant
in the ratings, causing the BBC to pull the plug on that show (the main UK Apprentice
is still going).
The US show provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming:
- A non-human example happened in Season 4, when the candidates had to make floats to advertise the film Zathura. One of the team leaders mispronounced it as "Zarutha" near the start of the task, which didn't bother Jon Favreau (the film's director) too much since he'd mispronounced it himself a few times, and the team decided to stick an audio recording of the name in the float so that no-one else would make the same mistake. On the other hand, when the time came to present the floats at the end of the task, the opposing team leader kept calling the film "Zenthura" over and over again while talking to Favreau, despite the actual title being written in huge letters on the float. Face Palms all round from her team, and it ended up being partly responsible for them losing the task.
- During the first-ever Celebrity Apprentice episode, Piers Morgan accidentally mispronounced Omarosa's name as "Amarosa," which really riled her up. It then turned into Malicious Misnaming, as he continued to call her this for the rest of the season.
- In the All-Star Celebrity Apprentice season, Dennis Rodman's team had the task of producing an advertising campaign for the new line of cosmetics by Melania Trump — who, by the way is Donald Trump's wife — and proudly presented her with a bunch of posers on which her name was spent "Milania." To the surprise of no-one but the team members themselves (somehow none of them noticed it), they duly lost the task.
- In the same season, after LaToya Jackson was fired she angrily accused Omarosa of murdering her late fiancé, Michael Clarke Duncan... an accusation that would probably have carried a lot more weight if she hadn't mispronounced his name as "Michael Duncan Clarke." She went on to make the same mispronunciation in the live season finale, which Omarosa was not pleased about.
- Another Side, Another Story: This happens a lot in the boardroom.
- Arch-Enemy: Plenty of examples, but the Celebrity editions tend to be particularly bad for this.
- The first one memorably had Piers Morgan and Omarosa, as well as a shorter-lasting feud between Morgan and Stephen Baldwin.
- The second had a big, ugly rivalry between eventual finalists Annie Duke and Joan Rivers (and by extension, her daughter Melissa), as well as a short-lived one between Tom Green and Scott Hamilton, both of whom made early exits. One started brewing between Joan Rivers and Clint Black, though they were on good terms again by the end of the following episode.
- There was apparently a feud between Curtis Stone and Maria Kanellis in the third edition, thought it seems to have happened mostly off-screen.
- In the fourth, NeNe Leakes versus... just about everyone, really. By far the biggest of her feuds was with Star Jones, and it eventually led to NeNe quitting because she thought Trump was biased towards Star (hint: he wasn't, and Star was fired at the end of the episode where NeNe quit). On the men's team there was a brief one between Richard Hatch and Jose Canseco, though it never really came up again after the first episode. Subverted by Gary Busey; none of the other men really liked him, but that was down to him not bringing the goods in during the tasks, and he never got into a personal dispute with any of the other men.
- The fifth season was probably the worst for this. In no particular order, there were feuds between Lisa Lampanelli and Dayana Mendoza, Aubrey O'Day and Arsenio Hall, Michael Andretti and Lou Ferrigno, Lou Ferrigno and Lisa Lampanelli, Teresa Giudice and Debbie Gibson, Lisa Lampanelli and Victoria Gotti, Tia Carrerre and Aubrey O'Day, and Clay Aiken and Penn Jillette.
- Though the All-Star season was surprisingly free of this for the most part, things got really ugly between Omarosa and LaToya Jackson, to the point where LaToya accused Omarosa of murdering her fiancé note , which caused Omarosa to threaten a lawsuit against her.
- Aspect Montage
- Berserk Button: Trump has the ones which you'd expect, such losing money and making bad decisions. However, he really hates the phrase "white trash," as Derek found out in the LA season — he called himself white trash in the boardroom, and was instantly fired for his trouble.
- Blatant Lies: In Season 10, where Trump confronted Anand for text-messaging his friends to help him out (which is against the rules), Anand denied it right up to the point where Trump read aloud the entire text. In an interview after he was fired, Anand claimed that he wasn't deliberately lying to Trump, but just forgot about the text since it had been three weeks previous.
- Boring but Practical: Season 3 had both teams hosting a DIY event for Home Depot. Team leader Craig came up the idea of simply creating a self-assembly box, which was derided by the rest of his team for being boring and uncreative. It turned out to be a big success at the event however, since children could decorate the boxes and their parents could get involved building them, and as a result they won the task easily. Of course, the fact that the other team's product was an Epic Fail probably contributed as well.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Pepi from Season 5 was responsible for one of the show's worst-ever defeats, and when Lee chose him to be a member of his team for the final task, he was worried about what Trump would think. When meeting him for the first time since his firing though, Trump had totally forgotten that Pepi was ever a candidate on the show. George and Carolyn also couldn't remember, though they at least had something of an excuse since Pepi's team won their first task, and Bill and Ivanka had been covering for them in the task when he got fired.
- Butt Monkey: Rod Blagojevich in the third celebrity season, to the point where many fans wondered whether his appearance on the show was part of some Springtime for Hitler plot to make himself look like such an incompetent buffoon that the jury at his eventual corruption trial would think he couldn't possibly have come up with a plan to sell off Barack Obama's old Senate seat. In the brief time he was on the show he proved unable to carry out the simplest tasks on a computer, slept through a good deal of the task he was the project manager on, and even got mistaken for Donny Osmond. Given that his attempt to sell an appointment to that Senate seat was itself laughably inept, this didn't work.
- Casanova Wannabe: Raj from Season 2, demonstrated when he decided to ask out Anna Kournikova after meeting her and John McEnroe during a reward. She agreed to date him if he could beat her in a game of tennis — and naturally he lost horribly, resulting in him having to jog half-naked around the Arthur Ashe Stadium as a forefeit. Not learning anything from this experience, he actually tried to ask out Donald Trump's receptionist after being fired, and was of course rebuffed.
- Catch Phrase:
- "You're fired." Inverted in each series finale to become "You're hired."
- "What if you could have it all?" from the opening. In the recession-themed Season 10 it was changed to "What if you could have a second chance?"
- Celebrity Edition Spin-Off: The Celebrity Apprentice. Essentially the same as a normal season of the show, only featuring celebrities, all profits from every task being donated to charity, and Trump offering a large donation to the winner's charity of choice rather than a job.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: In the tenth season, Anand texted several of his friends, asking them to hire his pedicab service at extortionately inflated rates in order to ensure that his team won. It failed on two levels — firstly, no-one actually took him up on his offer, and secondly, Trump had been informed about what Anand had been doing a few episodes later, and, hilariously (see "Blatant Lies" just above), fired him on the spot.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: In a slightly unusual variant, displayed by pretty much everyone.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Gary Busey from the fourth and sixth celebrity editions. At least, that's what his teammates thought of him.
- Confession Cam: The candidates, plus Trump's advisers often use these to give their thoughts on how the task is progressing.
- Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Thanks to Rod Blagojevich's crappy leadership and worse research skills, a Harry Potter experience put together by the men's team in Celebrity Apprentice 3 suffered this to such an extent that about the only thing the team got right about the franchise was that it starred a wizard called Harry Potter. It eventually got to the point where in the boardroom Rod was proudly boasting that he had taken the time to learn about "Hogworth's" school and the fact that it was made up of houses such as "Slithering" and "Ravencloth," leading to guest adviser Erin Burnett giving Rod a look that practically said "you have GOT to be kidding me."
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Many of the Celebrity Apprentice candidates turn out to be this — in particular Piers Morgan, who watched every episode of the first five seasons (and only skipped the LA season because Trump himself told Morgan not to bother watching it) prior to coming onto the show. Gene Simmons was also shaping up to be this, after he figured out the best way of winning tasks on the show before the first-ever Celebrity task, though he flipped out and made Trump fire him after only a few episodes rather than admit he'd screwed up in one of the tasks.
- Dirty Old Man: Gary Busey in the fourth celebrity edition. After inadvertently exposing himself while appearing in his team's advert, he turned to his female co-star and asked, "Did you see Big Wednesday?" to which the actress replied that she hadn't. Busey then continued, "That's what my girlfriend calls my apparatus. Big Wednesday." Note that this was actually an Incredibly Lame Pun on Busey's part (Big Wednesday was one of his first films), but also an Incredibly Dirty Pun as well.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set / We Interrupt This Program: A special two-hour long episode in 2011 was interrupted by a special broadcast by Barack Obama, announcing that Osama bin Laden was now dead.
- Dude, Not Funny!: This trope has been invoked by Trump and/or the candidates at times:
- While Adam was giving a presentation about dating in the fourth season, team-mate Clay suddenly decided to butt in and refer to Adam as a "shy, tight Jewish boy," which highly offended both Adam and Trump's adviser George Ross. Clay was questioned on it in the boardroom and said that he wasn't referring to Adam being tight-fisted, but rather was calling him a virgin, which Trump was scarcely any more impressed by.
- The reaction from most of the other celebrities when Maria Kanellis made a joke relating to Curtis Stone's bathroom habits near the end of the third Celebrity Apprentice. Trump found it so not funny that he fired Maria on the spot (though she was probably about to be fired anyway).
- Elimination Catchphrase: "You're fired!"
- Epic Fail: Pretty much Omarosa's entire Apprentice career.
- In the fourth season, the two teams had to take over a Dick's Sporting Goods and promote a particular sport. One team chose golf and almost doubled their sales. The other team chose baseball, but concentrated on a demonstration instead of sales. As a result, sales of baseball equipment at the store actually dropped. Trump's response: single out the four team members responsible and fire all four of them.
- In the television advert task in the third season, the two teams were supposed to be advertising Dove bodywash. The first team created an advert that featured a bizarre mix of cucumber pornography and Ho Yay (not at the same time), while the second team's effort looked like a Monty Python parody of poorly made adverts, and contained copious amounts of Brain Bleach in the way that the soap was used. Neither advert told you anything whatsoever about the product itself. As a result, Trump declared that both teams had lost the task.
- In the Martha Stewart season, the teams were each given a mobile stage to advertise a stain removal product. One team ran a boxing themed campaign and created a mascot based on the actual product. The other team resorted to just standing around on the stage and chanting the product's slogan in a variety of silly voices. Not surprisingly, the latter team lost the task so badly that Martha ended up firing two people.
- Flanderization: Bizarrely, Omarosa seemed to do this to herself between her two appearances on the show. During her original stint, she did have the odd moment of bitchiness, but was mostly shown to be just lazy and had a bad attitude. When she popped up again on the first Celebrity Apprentice however, she had morphed into a crazed psycho-bitch who was utterly impossible to work with.
- Foiler Footage: Every single one of the contestants is filmed doing a "walk of shame" out to the cab in case they're fired. This includes the eventual winner, of course.
- Foreshadowing: The first episode of season ten has a dramatic sequence where Dave has to call the unemployment bureau in the middle of a task. This reveals that the candidates are now allowed to keep their personal cellphones, whereas in previous years they had to rely on phones provided by Trump that worked as walkie-talkies; this was done to prevent them from using personal contacts to win the tasks. A few episodes later Anand would use his to cheat, which resulted in his firing.
- Franchise Zombie: The show has had declining ratings for years but thanks to one Ben Silverman continues to get renewed. Ratings seemed to have stabilised since the introduction of the Celebrity Apprentice format, though — in fact, the fourth celebrity edition actually managed an increase in ratings compared to the third.
- Funny Foreigner: The Russian-born Lenny from Season 5. Due to his rather more limited grasp of English he often spoke in terse one-liners, giving an effect somewhat akin to the type of Russian henchman often seen in action flicks from The Eighties. Averted by Sean and Brent from the same season — the former (English) proved deadly serious for the most part and actually went on to win the show, while the latter (Canadian) was just a complete douchebag.
- I Warned You: In Celebrity Apprentice's first season, the Kodak executives were upset that Gene had ditched their chosen messaging (relating to how little ink their printers used) in favor of his own "It's a Kodak World: We Just Live In It." When pressed both during the episode and during his return for the finale, Gene stated that Kodak's chosen marketing strategy was terrible. The Kodak execs disagreed and felt focusing on their inks was a winner. Several years later, the company declared bankruptcy.
- Kubrick Stare: Sam from Season 1 infamously gave one of these to Trump after being fired, to the point where his now-former-teammate Kwame practically had to drag him out of the boardroom.
- Lighter and Softer: The Martha Stewart season tried to do this, but most people agreed that the attempts to "feminize" the show ended up looking and sounding absolutely ridiculous.
- Looping Lines
- Mistaken for Racist: Ereka in Season 1, after she used the phrase "the pot calling the kettle black" in an argument with Omarosa. The saying isn't racist at all (it's actually used to accuse someone of hypocrisy), although it could be argued that Ereka showed extremely poor judgement in saying it to the only black person on her team.
- Moral Dissonance: The 2011 season of Celebrity Apprentice has two consecutive weeks where Star Jones and Dionne Warwick can be downright trouble-stirring divas who impede the abilities of their already-less-than-pinpoint project managers (Lisa Rinna the first week, Niki Taylor the next) to effectively lead the ladies, leading to the men's team winning each time and Trump placing the women on the proverbial hot seat. Lisa has to deal with Star trashing her to Trump right then and there before admitting her flaws in leadership, whereas Niki doesn't even wait for any of it before taking responsibility. Trump fired the managers and the divas stayed home free. Fans have pointed out the sad commentary in that this is Truth in Television in the corporate world.
- My Greatest Second Chance: With the exception of Bret Michaels (who won his season of Celebrity Apprentice), Omarosa (who is making her third appearance) and LaToya Jackson (who got fired, reinstated, then fired again during her season, thus technically making this her third chance) this is a motivation of the contestants for Celebrity Apprentice 6, as they are all celebrities from a past season that failed to win.
- One Steve Limit: Averted. Season 2 had two candidates called Jennifer and two called Stacy, while Season 4 also had two Jennifers. It even extends to the judges, with Donald Trumps Sr. and Jr.
- Product Placement: Almost every task involves the contestants trying to sell/promote/improve a product.
- Reality TV Show Mansion
- Recap Episode
- Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: "The Celebrity Apprentice" is clearly less serious and more silly than the "regular" seasons.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: "You're all fired. All four are fired!
- The Scapegoat: Danny from season 3 became this after the first challenge, with all but one member of his team thinking that he should be fired because of his poor advertisement ploy. Trump didn't buy it however, instead opting to fire team leader Todd for not keeping Danny in line, among other things.
- Schmuck Bait: After his team lost the second challenge in Series 3, John, who had won as project manager last week, was asked by Trump if he wanted to give up his immunity to being fired. John declined, no doubt remembering that Trump had immediately fired the last person who did that for his stupidity.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Double subverted by Verna, who left midway through the aforementioned second challenge apparently due to stress. Carolyn tracked her down and convinced her to rejoin her team for that challenge, but Verna left for good the night before the third challenge.
- Shoot the Messenger: This occasionally happened to Marlee Matlin's interpreter, because he conveyed Marlee's emotions whenever she argued with teammates.
- Stereo Fibbing: In the boardroom. Note that the rest of the examples of this trope are young kids trying to get their siblings into trouble.
- Taking You with Me: Since the Season 1 finale, Omarosa has admitted that she went in with the intention of disrupting whichever team she was on and wrecking the chances of her project manager, whether she ended up on Bill or Kwame's team. Though Bill indisputably did a better job overall, Kwame's inability to control Omarosa (and failure to fire her, though apparently he wasn't informed he could do that) ended up costing him dearly.
- That's All, Folks!: Whichever team wins in the celebrity edition will get to watch part of the boardroom proceedings via closed circut TV, but Trump usually will order that the feed be cut off before he fires anyone, unless someone either quits or screws up so badly that Trump fires them without bothering with the final boardroom.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Clint gave a great one to Dave in Season 10: "I choose my words precisely, and 'loopy' and 'nut' both apply to you, to a tee. You couldn’t get a job as an oompa-loompah making gobstoppers."
- The Runner Up Takes It All: The person who doesn't win is arguably in a better position than the winner since he/she will receive numerous job offers from numerous corporations.
- Those Two Guys: George and Carolyn.
- Too Much Information: Carey's line of men's swimsuits in the L.A. season got this reaction from Donald Trump, the buyers, and the other candidates (one of them even used this phrase to describe them), stemming from the fact that Carey had made them extremely revealing so as to appeal to gay men.
- Took a Level in Badass: All-Star Celebrity Apprentice has had a few examples:
- Lisa Rinna did pretty horribly in her appearance on Celebrity Apprentice 4, screwing up in the first task and nearly causing her team to lose, before bombing hard as project manager on the second task and getting fired. Since returning on the All-Star version, not only was she repeatedly named one of the best performers on her team by her various project managers, when her turn as project manager came she made just over $400,000 for her charity, making her one of the show's all-time top earners. She ultimately made it to the final four, ending up with a little over half a million dollars.
- Dennis Rodman to a lesser extent; he didn't do outstandingly well and was eventually fired without earning anything (though Trump later gave his charity $20,000 for his participating in the final task), but he did come up with a few good ideas and important suggestions on the way, and in any case did way better than his perpetually-drunk original appearance in Celebrity Apprentice 2.
- Translator Buddy: Jack Jason for Marlee Matlin.
- Troll: Omarosa is an IRL example.
- Unwitting Pawn
- Very Special Episode: Two in the second Celebrity series; the first was when Dennis Rodman suffered an alcohol-induced Heroic BSOD (the culmination of several smaller such instances) and walked off the task despite being the team leader. He did come back to the boardroom where the whole team said that Rodman's alcohol abuse was destroying him, which resulted in Trump firing Rodman and telling him to get help. The second instance was in the very next episode, where Khloe Kardashian got thrown off the show after Trump discovered she had a DUI conviction, and didn't think she had shown enough contrition for it.
- Viewers Are Morons: Played for laughs in the second episode of Season 5 — Trump starts to explain at length what text messaging is, before stopping and admitting that everyone else knows exactly what text messaging is, and that he's the only person who needs someone to explain it to him, getting a few chuckles from the candidates.
- What Were They Selling Again?: In tasks that involve making television advertisements, one team usually gets carried away with making a well crafted advertisement, while failing to properly convey what they're actually advertising . You can get away with this in the US version, so long as the advert is memorable and the other team makes some screw-up with their own advert, but it's an absolute deal-breaker in the UK and Irish versions.
- Wrong Genre Savvy:
- For some reason, losing Project Managers often think that it's a great idea to bring back one person who they want to get fired, and one person (sometimes even two) as an "advocate" who they think will back them up in the boardroom and help to get the other person fired. This almost never works; what actually tends to happen is that the advocate gets pissed off at being placed into harm's way, and then turns on the Project Manager for doing so.
- In the Celebrity Apprentice seasons, the teams are often asked to make viral videos. However, the celebrities will quite often fall into the trap of just producing a standard TV advert, which almost invariably results in their team losing for not producing what the executives asked for.
The UK version contains examples of:
- 20% More Awesome: Lord Sugar got so tired of candidates claiming they would "give 110%" that he told them not to use the phrase.
- The Abridged Series:
- Accidental Innuendo: Simon's attempt to sell a trampoline on a TV shopping channel in Series 3.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: The secretary Frances, in earlier series. In later series, the character isn't named at all, and is hardly ever shown on screen.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Occasionally, one of the final three candidates will plead for another chance during Lord Sugar's summing-up. This tends to annoy him and is unlikely to work. A couple of times the candidate has kept on begging even after being fired, which never works.
- All or Nothing: "First prize: You get to work for me. Second prize: don't exist."
- All Women Love Shoes: Francesca in Series 9 seemed to think so.
Margaret Mountford: (reading Francesca's CV) "What's the most interesting thing about you? My shoe collection."
Francesca: I'm passionate about shoes... and I think it's something that would pique someone's interest.
Margaret: Right, well, we can agree to differ on that one.
- And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt: Myles received one as a leaving present on You're Fired.
Meanwhile, after the first episode of Series 10, Chiles received a whole box of his unsold T-Shirts on You're Fired
- And Another Thing: When setting the first assignment of Series 3, Sir Alan explains the task, wishes the teams luck, walks away... then suddenly turns back, and swaps the two project managers over.
- Arch-Enemy: Daniel and Mark in Series 10.
- Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Lord Sugar muses on Melody, a candidate in Series 7:
She is ruthless. She'll walk over and tread over anybody. She'll eat them up and spit them out for her breakfast. That's what I like about her, really.
- Artifact Title: In later series of the UK version, the prize has changed from winning a job as Alan Sugar's "apprentice" to getting a £250,000 investment for the candidate's business proposal (with Sugar receiving 50% of the business ownership). The Title Drop has gone from the opening narration, but the title itself remains the same.
- Ascended Extra/Demoted to Extra: Between Series 5 and 6, Karren Brady (ascended) exchanges roles with Margaret Mountford (demoted).
- Aside Glance: Ricky Martin delivers one to the camera in Series 8 when, for the third time that day, a restaurant insists on serving him scallops.
- Badass Bookworm: Arjun, the winner of the first Junior Apprentice series.
- Bad Boss: Season 4's Dan was regarded by his team as "a dictator" during his time as project manager, and he was subsequently fired for it.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Employed several times:
Claude Littner: I'll talk about Lucinda if I may, Alan. She's a very intelligent, bright individual. No doubt highly skilled at what she does and I would think she'd be a disaster for you.
Claude Littner: I had your CV and personal statements and it's fair to say that they are exceptional. Exceptionally bad, that is.
Karren Brady: They really loved your pitch...and they really liked you guys...they hated the product...and they didn't place any orders.
- Bathos: Intentionally deployed by Margaret Mountford.
"So you studied the greats in human history and cherry-picked their knowledge... and as a result of that your role model is David Beckham?"
- Berserk Button: Offering an exclusivity agreement on a product you didn't create really annoys Lord Sugar. In the best case you can expect to lose all the sales made under the agreement, and in the worst case, Sugar will just flat-out disqualify your team and hand victory to the competing team.
- If you screw up a task that's in the same field as the business you want Lord Sugar to invest in, it's almost a certainty that you'll be fired.
- Better Than Sex: Ben, one of the candidates in Series 5: "For me, making money is better than sex."
- Big Applesauce: Episode 7 of Series 10 saw half of each team travelling to New York as part of the task to brand a soft drink.
- Big "YES!": Tom's celebration out of the boardroom after winning Series 7.
- Black Dude Gets Fired First:
- Inverted in Series 1; Tim Campbell, the show's first-ever winner, was black. A similar thing happened in Series 2, where another black man, Ansell Henry was the last male candidate to be fired (he finished third overall; both the finalists that year were women).
- Played straight with Mahamed Awale in Young Apprentice.
- Blatant Lies: Happens pretty often.
- Probably the biggest example of this came after a catering task in Series 4, where in the final boardroom Ian Stringer flat-out denied that one of the other candidates had given a motivational talk to the rest of the team. Not only had the talk in question indeed taken place, but it was recorded on camera, and every team member including Ian himself had been there — which the others didn't hesitate to point out.
- In Series 6, Stuart Baggs repeatedly boasted that he owned a multi-million pound telecommunications company, something that requires significant capital to set up and has to meet with stringent regulatory requirements, and this "achievement" resulted in Liz Locke being fired in favour of Stuart after the final regular task. In the interview round that followed, it turned out that what Stuart actually owned was a Wi-Fi based ISP, something that only requires a bit of cheap equipment and a £350 licence that anyone or their grandmother could obtain. Lord Sugar was so livid on finding out about this that he accused Stuart of being "full of shit" and fired him on the spot.
- Stuart Baggs and Chris Bates's strategy on the Buy 10 Items task. PM Jamie had suggested telling a story to try to get the vendors to give a discount. Stuart and Chris interpreted this as "keep piling on a load of convoluted nonsense until the vendor collapses in laughter and gives you a discount so you'll go away".
- The eventual winner of Series 4, Lee McQueen had a rather strange one of these on his CV, claiming to have dropped out of university after two years when in fact he had only lasted for six months. Since employers generally only care whether you have a degree or not (preferably with at least a 2:1 grade as well), it's hard to think what Lee thought he was going to achieve by putting that on his CV.
- Mahamed Awale from Young Apprentice, who in an ice-cream selling task boasted about coming up with the pirates name and theme (which he didn't, James did), openly denied being too aggressive to customers (which he actually was) and finally told Lord Sugar he made over £120 in sales (which was then revealed that he only made £62). The guy was subsequently fired that week.
- In Episode 5 of Series 6 (sell London fashion labels in a Manchester shopping centre), Alex secured an advertisement for his team's shop that was played on the shopping centre's large TV screens several times an hour for the whole day. But when it came to the final boardroom, Project Manager Paloma claimed that Laura had secured the advert. Despite the entire team having confirmed that it was Alex who had set up the advert during the initial boardroom session.
- In the overseas task of Series 10, Mark Wright shot for being the PM by claiming that he worked in advertising. Except... he worked as a sales person for an online marketing company, and was not in any way connected to the creative process.
- In Series 10 Episode 8 (Secure deals with people to sell their products at a country show), James cost his team the chance of selling hot tubs as their high ticket item (see Epic Fail) and was forced to choose lawnmowers instead. However, he did not tell the team and claimed the decision had been made off his own back so that the team's morale wouldn't be weakened and sales wouldn't be affected. The truth only came out in the boardroom despite James claiming he had planned to tell the team at the end of the day.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: In Series 3, the teams were required to sell food in France. One team commissioned a banner in French, which according to the subtitles read "Traditionals Product of English man."
- Broken Ace: Series 6 winner Stella English. In the series itself there was basically no point where it looked like anyone else would win. Post-series however, she nearly quit her initial position with Lord Sugar because she felt it was beneath her skill, quit a more prestigious role after nine months for the same reason, then tried to sue Sugar for constructive dismissal and sexual discrimination. Both charges were rejected, and Sugar subsequently counter-sued her for recovery of legal expenses and defamation of character.
- Brutal Honesty:
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: How Sir Alan treated Syed in Series 2. Syed was actually quite good at sales, at one point managing to let out a flat to a passer-by in the street, but also rather clumsy. He wasn't fired until his fifth appearance in the boardroom.
- Call Back: The first episode of Series 10 had this in spades with the first task challenging the teams to sell a variety of products, based off the first episode tasks of each series with Flowers (Series 1), Lemons (Series 2 - Fruit), Coffee (Series 3), Fish Balloons (Series 4 having the teams sell fresh fish instead), Cleaning equipment (Series 5), Sausages (Series 6), Potatoes (Series 7), Printed T-Shirts (Series 8). Series 9 wasn't represented due to that first task also being a mish-mash of items.
- The reward in the episode also called back to the very first reward in Series 1, a trip on the London Eye.
- Series 10 Episode 9 (Buy 9 items as cheaply as possible) saw the teams buying one item from each previous series including an anatomical skeleton and a kosher chicken.
- Captain Obvious: In the first episode, the men's team are discussing what team name to choose:
Raj: What sets us apart from the women?
Tim: Our testicles?
- The Cassandra:
- In the second episode of Series 2, Jo very presciently points out that a cat-themed calendar has nothing to do with children; an important factor since the calendars were being produced to raise money for Great Ormond Street children's hospital. Along with Nargis's abrasive pitching style, the cat theme was identified as a notable factor in the team failing the task.
- Lorraine from Series 5 is considered this by Margaret, as her intuition is more often right than wrong, but she fails to persuade the others to go along with it.
- Tom Pellereau from Series 7 has a knack for spotting the mistakes of the project manager (e.g. the implications of the name 'EveryDog' in the Dog Food task), and yet no one takes his advice. This may explain why he lost the first five tasks, yet was not brought into the boardroom in any of them.
- Adam in Series 3 warned his team not to be too laid back during the task of selling artwork. Everyone else on his team, as well as one artist and her husband, agreed a "soft sell" strategy was better. They lost, with Adam selling 2 out of the 4 paintings the team sold.
- Celebrity Edition: Between 2007 and 2009, each year there was a small task organised to raise money for charity and screened over two nights. This eventually got the chop in favour of Young Apprentice in 2010.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: As with the US series, there's a lot of it going around, with several candidates turning on their team mates in the boardroom. Series 4 was particularly bad for this.
- Cool, but Inefficient: In an outtake shown on the Series 5 "You're Hired", Sralan complains that the impressive door through which he enters the boardroom ought to have a handle.
- Consolation Prize: Although in theory runners-up get nothing, Lord Sugar has sometimes offered a job or investment to a runner-up.
- Conspicuous Gloves: Edna Agbarha in Series 7 wore a pair of extremely prominent elbow-length black leather gloves when presenting her team's smartphone app.
- Cringe Comedy: Some episodes are filled with it:
- Rachel's presentation to the advertising executives in Series 1.
- Both teams' attempts to pitch their charity calendars in Series 2. Ruth Badger commented on the 'Worst Decisions Ever' special that Nargis's pitch made her want to crawl up her own backside.
- The task of selling on TV in Series 3.
- The Pantsman advertising campaign.
- The corporate "away days" in Series 9.
- In the Series 10 opener, Steven eulogising his team's potatoes during a pitch:
Steven Ugoalah: "These potatoes, I mean look at them, they almost shine in the glistening sun. And in a way, when you have your customers enjoy these potatoes, it’s not going to be just a potato, it’s going to be an experience."
- Series 10's historical coach tours episode included the excruciating experience of James singing "The Wheels On The Bus" and "One Man Went To Mow" on the coach and trying to get the passengers to join in. This was followed by a shot of Karren looking longingly at the "In Case Of Emergency, Break Glass" sticker on the window next to her seat.
- Deadpan Snarker: Nick Hewer has practically turned this into an art form.
- Didn't Think This Through: Several candidates in series 7-10 had good track records in the tasks, only to present business plans that suffered from gaping flaws — possibly because they never expected to get that far in the first place. According to Gabrielle Omar (Series 8 candidate) candidates only have a week to write the plans before filming begins.
- Disastrous Demonstration: Kristina's attempt to sell a floor cleaner in the Series 3 shopping channel task. It wasn't plugged in, and so only spread the dirt around. Turned Up to Eleven a few minutes later when Simon firstly tried working out on a trampoline while still wearing business attire, and then performed unintentionally obscene-looking acts while demonstrating how to screw in the trampoline's legs.
- An attempt to sell a water-saving showerhead in Series 6 was hurt by the demo unit being defective.
- Distracted by the Sexy: As seen on You're Hired, (around 2:00 into this video), the ultra-professional Helen Milligan had a surprising moment of this during the final 'true' task of Series Seven. Midway through a conversation with Tom about their new pie restaurant, her car passed twenty firemen...
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- In the first couple of episodes of Season 1, the show tries to play up the teams' rivalry in the house, showing them playing relatively petty tricks in the hope of gaining some advantage. From the third episode on, this aspect is dropped and the focus is kept on their behaviour in the tasks.
- Mark Halliley's narrating voice sounds oddly hushed in the first series.
- The first two seasons also had only 14 candidates instead of 16, Sugar restricted to only being able to fire one person a week, and the surviving candidates from the boardroom not returning to the house until the start of the following episode. There was also a different, more neutrally coloured boardroom set, and the boardroom sessions were implied to take place at Brentwood House in London, rather than Viglen's headquarters in Hertfordshire. A different café was also used for the discussions following the announcement of each task's result.
- The first series also contained noticeably more profanity than subsequent series where a Precision F-Strike is quite rare.
- Series 1 and 2 both included tasks where the candidates had to advertise one of Lord Sugar's products: an Amstrad music player in Series 1 and the Amsair Skycard service in Series 2. This practice completely vanished from Series 3 onwards.
- Eating the Eye Candy: In the 'rebrand Margate' task in Series 5, when Yasmina and Kate are interviewing models for their advertising campaign, they ask the men to take their shirts off. The result leads to giggles and blushes from them, and a number of Fascinating Eyebrows and Eye Takes from Margaret Mountford.
- Epic Fail:
- The advertising task in Series 1 was a disaster on three fronts. Paul produced a TV advert in which the product was barely visible and Saira neglected her job of creating a poster, leaving their graphics designer completely clueless as to what to do. But both of these paled in comparison to Rachel's presentation, which consisted of bad dancing, playing music, and proudly showing off a "mood board" which looked like something a 10 year-old would make in an art class. Rachel was fired because she actually had a background in advertising.
- A task in Season 2 had the teams making charity calendars for Great Ormond St. children's hospital. One of the teams came up with a horribly designed calendar that was backed by an absurdly melodramatic pitch, but at least their calendars actually featured babies. The other team came up with a calendar that was themed around cats, didn't actually mention Great Ormond St. by name, had the dates printed microscopically small, and the woman giving their sales pitch repeatedly acted insulting toward the potential buyers.
- The horribly botched catering task in Season 2. Both teams hugely over-ordered ingredients, although the winning team managed to keep costs under control and make a profit from the task. The other team spent their entire budget, made just over half of it back and lost more than £800 (or, going by the exchange rate of the time, about US$1,500) - the largest loss of money EVER in the history of the show. Needless to say, Sir Alan Sugar wasn't very pleased.
- In Series 3, one task saw the teams buying British farmers' produce to sell at a market in France. At least, that was the idea. Paul bought a stack of cheap, processed cheese from a cash-and-carry to sell to a nation which takes cheese VERY seriously. They also lost out on hundreds of pounds worth of sausage sales because they had no cooked sausages to offer for sampling; rather than buying a camping stove, he instead tried to improvise one with a baked beans tin with disastrous results. The team made a loss of over £200, and Paul sealed his fate by bringing the wrong people back into the boardroom.
- Series 3's "Selling on TV" task. In addition to Simon looking like he was on A Date with Rosie Palms, both teams made only a tenth of the channel's usual profits for the timeslot they were given, and the channel's viewers simply HATED the candidates.
- There was sufficient Epic Fail in the first three series that it got its own Spin-Off: The Apprentice: Worst Decisions Ever. The above five examples were all included.
- A version with greetings cards: Deciding on a theme of 'environmentally friendly' despite the fact that, y'know, buying a piece of cardboard to save the rainforests doesn't make much sense. The direction of the sales pitch after he got desperate? "If you don't order these cards, you'll be just like George Bush not signing the Kyoto Treaty." Not making this up.
- The Morocco episode in Series 4. So bad it was that the losing project manager was not allowed to choose two teammates — everyone was brought into the final boardroom. A double firing occurred as a result.
- Pantsman, anyone?
- In case anybody missed the full horror of Pantsman (pants meaning underpants in Britain), he was a mascot for a cereal called Wake-up Call. The concept being, "So that you don't put on your pants last like Pantsman, get a Wake-up Call!"
- A task in Series 6 had the teams creating Personal Movie Experiences to be sold in a shopping centre. While this isn't really all that difficult if handled correctly, Stuart, believing that he had the skill for the task, opted to be part of the sub-team that was responsible for editing the footage to separate customers and to burn the discs. One notable item was properly edited at the beginning, but had the first few seconds of the next DVD to burn at the end, resulting in another family's child appearing on the DVD just prior to the end of the disc.
- Also there was the 'Brand a Kitchen Cleaner' task from the same series, where one team opted for 'The Germ-o-nator', with the mascot being a prepubescent boy armed with the cleaner. Said cleaner had the standard warning of 'keep out of the reach of children'. Lord Sugar did not let this screw-up pass by.
- The bakery task where a hotel ordered 1000 bread rolls for tomorrow's breakfast. What they actually managed to bake overnight? 16.
- A biscuit making task in the episode screened on 29 June 2011. One team got an order for 800,000 packs. The other got zero. That's right, ZERO. This epic fail got the project manager fired for not being in the factory when she works in that industry!
- The "Design A Board Game" task in Series 10. Summit come up with a family-orientated geography game called "Geo-Know" and sell all 150 units, making a little over £2000. Tenacity ignore their market research and devise a relationship game called "The Relationship Guru" with questions that buyers felt were outdated and sexist, and (thanks to appalling negotiations and pricing) make just over half of what Tenacity did despite only selling 22 fewer units.
- From the same task comes a huge error from Summit's Bianca who tried to replicate James's successful use of exclusivity within a postcode to secure a sale by promising exclusivity to a shop for the entire borough of Westminster. An area which (as Lord Sugar pointed out) has possibly the largest concentration of retail establishments in Europe, including the flagship branch of Waterstones where Sugar had laid on an appointment. And the kicker? The exclusivity deal was to secure the sale of six items.
- In Series 10's "Schmooze the owners of products and sell them" task (which took place at a Country Show), both teams were vying for a range of hot tubs. Which James completely ballsed up for his team by calling the owner "Derek" twice despite his name being Anthony. This mistake cost them the task as the other team brought in over £30,000 from selling the hot tubs while James and Roisin sold lawnmowers as their equivalent high-ticket item and made around £3,000.
- Evil Redhead: Jenny from Season 4.
- Exact Words: In Series 10's "Buy items for the lowest price task", one of the items is an anatomical skeleton with a guide price of around £260. Felipe notices that the dossier doesn't specify what form it has to be in or what it has to be made of and buys a buildable one made of paper for £14. Lord Sugar is not happy.
- Eye Take: Frequently employed by Lord Sugar's aides, along with Aside Glances and Fascinating Eyebrows. Lord Sugar himself gets in on the act from time to time.
- Finger Framing: Done repeatedly by one candidate in the 2009 series.
- Full-Name Basis: Stuart Baggs and Ricky Martin. The former's self-given epithet "Stuart Baggs The Brand" actually stuck, and the latter, born Richard, deliberately chose to call himself Ricky Martin because people would remember it from the latino singer.
- Genius Bruiser: Series 8 winner Ricky Martin, a biochemist pro-wrestling recruitment manager.
- Get Out: Claude Littner has ended two interviews by ordering the candidate to leave.
- Gilligan Cut: In Series 9 (episode 7), when the contestants are deciding what to sell at a caravan show:
Jason: The thing about power-assisted bikes is, I mean, who gets onto a bike and wants to do no pedalling at all?
(cut to the other sub-team)
Luisa: (riding a power-assisted bike, squealing with excitement) It's amazing!
- Goofy Suit: Occasionally deployed by a struggling team in an attempt to boost sales.
- Hannibal Lecture/"The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Katie Hopkins delivered a particularly memorable one to Adam Hosker in Series 3.
"I could not have put more effort into yesterday. I fragged myself to the bone yesterday to try and make this thing work. Your reasons for bringing me in here just do not stack up. One, on a personal level, and two, on a business level. Sir Alan said he does not know about my personal stuff. He knows about it because you talked about it, because Kristina talked about it. Fine, been that, but if you want to go personal, I'll go personal. I very much strongly advise you not to take down the personal route. At a business level, you have one speed setting, and that speed setting is slow, slow, slow! Someone put the wrong speed dial in when they created you, sweetie, which is why when the phone rings, I always drop. Because I know that phone call will take forever to hear something either I know, or I can get done quicker myself. So you know what? You're just barking up the wrong tree!"
- Karren Brady delivered a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the losing team in the sixth series. The team were arguing amongst themselves in the boardroom, it grew heated, and after Lord Sugar called them 'a bunch of bloody amateurs', Karren stepped in.
"You are representing businesswomen today, one of which I am. And I have to say, it is outrageous the way you're behaving. 75% of my management team are women, and I've never come across anything like this. And I think you have to remember who you're representing in this process. Young women out there who want to have an opportunity to do this - you should be an example to them."
- Claude Littner's interview technique pretty much IS this trope. His first comment when he was a member of the panel on "You're Fired" carried on the trend:
"Well, first of all, everything was wrong. The volume was wrong, the margins were wrong, the techniques of selling were wrong. I struggle to find anything that you did right, really. But it wasn't just you — I think it was everybody in the team who just failed to perform."
- His interview of Solomon in series 10 is a double-subversion; he opens by extravagantly praising Solomon's application form, CV and past background as the best he's seen in ten years. Then he comes to his business plan.
"OK, look. I've told you how pleased I was with your CV. And then I came to look at the proposal that you're pitching for Lord Sugar. Frankly, it's a bloody disgrace. The ten years I've done this, I've never seen something that's put together, two bloody pages, with pictures on one page. What do you think you're coming here for? You can leave. Goodbye. [Solomon tries to answer him]
There's nothing to argue. You've given me pictures of sail boats. What am I going to work on? Pictures of sail boats? What is that? You're taking the piss. Please leave. That's not the way out.
- In series 10, Roisin to James in the final boardroom:
"James, I think you want to show you're really decisive just to show Lord Sugar you're decisive, when you're not actually making sound, informed decisions. It's about the way you treat people as well, and you have not managed any of us at all. I really admire your passion and enthusiasm, and I wanted to be directed in the right way, but to be honest, as long as we've been on the same team, I, bar the Big Dawg name, I don't see your contribution, and I am one of the most consistent contributors in here, and you've brought me in here even though we sold the same [number of] lawnmowers
- Hurricane of Puns: Narrator Mark Halliley does this quite often, and always in the "Previously on..." segment.
- I Meant to Do That: In Series 8's advertising task the teams had to advertise English sparkling wine, and Tom got so carried away "researching" the product that he was barely able to stand by the end of the day. After the series ended he claimed that he knew he'd probably be getting fired if he lost the task, and so decided to take away as much knowledge from the task as possible since he'd be able to use it in his day job as a wine merchant if Sugar sent him packing (fortunately for him though, the team won).
- Instrumental Theme Tune/Real Song Theme Tune: "Dance of the Knights", from Prokofiev's Romeo And Juliet. Also used by the Irish version.
- Insult Friendly Fire:
There's been a couple of issues with her and the girls over the last few tasks. Lord Sugar:
Well, you know what women are like. Karren: [Death Glare]
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: In the 'rebrand Margate' task, Nick Hewer comments on one team's attempts to create photographs of gay couples dancing in a nightclub:
"From what I can see, they're not getting a lot of direction, and it's all looking a bit stiff and wooden... if I can put it that way."
- Large Ham: Season 3's Rory Laing became this during the second task.
While you're brainstorming, you must. Not. Criticize
any ideas. Rory:
I'd JUST like you to DO as you're TOLD! Rory:
your boss. I AM! YOUR BOSS! Rory:
PLEASE, go over THERE!
- Lighter and Softer: Junior/Young Apprentice. In particular, "Uncle" Lord Sugar was noticeably kinder to unsuccessful candidates.
- Lord Sugar Likes Ponies: Stuart Baggs was asked if he was a one trick pony. No, he replied, he wasn't a one trick pony or even a 10 trick pony, but he had a whole field of ponies, all running towards the job. Lord Sugar fell for it and did not yet fire "The Brand"!
- Malaproper: Melissa from Series 6, who gave us such gems as "my professionality" and "there's no room for maneouvrement". Even after being fired, she managed to sneak in one last malapropism, claiming that her enemies would be "retributed".
- Maneki Neko: The Lucky Cats in Series 9, one of the things the teams had to sell. And which Jazz and co tried to sell in Chinatown. You know, the place where these things are a dime a dozen. Where the camera actually zooms out and shows hundreds of Lucky Cats in windows all waving towards the camera at the same time. Multiple times. There's also a bit of a 'joke' where as the team's leaving the house, they pass one of the cats they tried to sell earlier waving them out on the windowsill.
- Metaphorgotten: Jamie's complex metaphor involving cogs and wheels in the interview round of Series 6.
- Stuart Baggs (The Brand) gave us the epic "I'm not just a one-trick pony... I'm not even a ten-trick pony! I've got a whole field of ponies! All running towards the job!" Dara O'Brien ruthlessly chewed him out for such a nonsensical metaphor, before giving him a Stuart Baggs brand, so he could keep track of his ponies more easily.
- Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Jazz spoke like this to everyone on her team in season 9, and ended up annoying the hell out of them as a result. She then got fired in episode 1.
- While he doesn't fit the overly saccharine elements of the trope, in the second episode of Series 3 Rory Laing basically treats his team like children; threatening to send them out of the room if they start interrupting during a brainstorm, and making them take their jackets and ties off while he keeps his on to mark him out as an authority figure. In the Worst Decisions Ever special, art critic Brian Sewell described it as being the kind of thing a school prefect would do.
- Motor Mouth: There was even a special episode devoted to candidates like this. Also, Leah, the winner of Series 9.
- This caused problems for Laura in Series 6 while selling crisps in Hamburg. The combination of her motor mouth and the client's imperfect grasp of English meant he could barely understand her.
- Steven in Series 10 prompting Lord Sugar to respectfully advise him to "Shut up" in a boardroom session.
- Mr. Fanservice: Myles Mordaunt, Monaco Man-whore.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Occasionally happens at the start of an episode, when the sequence of Lord Sugar and the candidates meeting for their next briefing is accompanied by artistic shots of the sun rising over the city and heavenly choirs.
- The setting of the tasks themselves also count. While it would be simpler and much easier to give the briefing in one of Lord Sugar's offices, he instead summons the candidates to locations with a (sometimes incredibly tenuous) link to the task such as HMS Belfast and Pinewood Studios.
- Name's the Same: Series 8 winner Ricky Martin and the Latino singer Ricky Martin. Intentionally invoked as people would easily remember the former's name through the latter.
- Nerds Are Sexy: Tom Pellereau from Series 7 for many fans.
- Nice Hat: Lucinda Ledgerwood's array of berets in Series 4.
- Nice to the Waiter: After his firing in Series 4, Simon Smith is shown thanking Frances for letting him know the taxi's ready.
- Nobody Here but Us Statues: An outtake shown on "You're Fired!" in Series 6 showed some of the candidates posing as shop dummies while running a clothing outlet in Manchester.
- OOC Is Serious Business: The interview episodes portray Claude Littner's interviews as one "The Reason You Suck" Speech after another. Consequently, if he says "I think that's a good answer", you know he's impressed with a candidate.
- Oh, Crap:
- "Would it surprise you to know you've spent over £700 on fragrances?"
- This usually happens with multiple firings in the UK version; unlike the US version, where Donald Trump always does his multi-firings simultaneously, Sir Alan/Lord Sugar does them one at a time. Normally he decides that one candidate is no good and fires them early in the boardroom session, which causes the other candidates to look shocked but relieved at the strangely quick firing. Said looks of relief are instantly wiped off their face when Sugar tells them that someone else is going to get fired.
- In Series 10, the candidates are waiting to see who will return from the final boardroom, when the telephone rings. It's Lord Sugar.
- One Steve Limit:
- Series 4 had two candidates called Jennifer. One was always referred to as Jenny to enforce the limit.
- Series 6 has a candidate titled Chris (a blond investment banker) and another titled Christopher (a Liverpudlian former marine); they are called as such by Lord Sugar yet both are invariably called Chris by the candidates.
- Averted in Young Apprentice, where there is a Harry H. and a Harry M.
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot: James McQuillan from Series 5 was regularly described as this.
- Pet the Dog: In the first boardroom of Series 7, it became obvious that the losing project manager, Edward Hunter was ashamed of his background as an accountant. Lord Sugar rightfully blasted his blatantly incompetent leadership and fired him, but as Edward was on his way out of the boardroom, Sugar told him that there's no reason to be ashamed of what you're best at doing, even if it's being an accountant.
- Lord Sugar was also noticeably softer in the boardroom for Series 10 Episode 8; empathising with Daniel's annoyance that Mark was chosen to sell the hot tubs despite him (Daniel) securing the deal with the owner to sell them; acknowledging that the Blatant Lies tactic used by James was something he had done himself in the past, and giving James a surprisingly nice firing speech, telling him to "culture that little bit of good stuff in yourself and you will got far."
- Product As Superhero
- Product Placement: In the first few series, the telephones in the boardroom and the candidates' house are Amstrad Em@ilers. In general, though, attempts are made to avoid this (in fact, overt product placement is forbidden on the licence fee funded BBC) — rather than being named, companies will be described as "a leading department store" or "a major DIY chain", and the advertising tasks are based around products created for the purpose rather than existing ones.
- Professional Butt-Kisser:
- Syed Ahmed, from the second season. He was brought into the boardroom five times that season, and on each occasion turned Butt Kissing into an artform, as he constantly fawned over Sir Alan Sugar, told him how wonderful he was and claimed to be from the exact same background as him. This left such an impression on Sugar that he actually told the following season's candidates not to repeat Syed's behaviour, as it wouldn't get them anywhere.
- It worked for Michael Sophocles in Series 4. Up until the task with the cars, that is. It probably helped that Michael was Genre Savvy enough to mix in appeals to his age and his good performances earlier in the series, rather than employing the blatant, outright butt-kissing that Syed did.
- Jim Eastwood's proposed "AMSmart" business in Series 7 didn't do him any favours in the final.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness:
- Discussed by the first candidate to be fired series 6; he had watched previous series, but still ended up making all the same mistakes — in particular, alienating every member of his team.
- Averted by Liz during the "buy a list of ten items task" in Series 6, where she remembered from the corresponding task in Series 3 that getting all the items and coming back to the boardroom late would get less of a fine than getting back to the boardroom on time but not buying everything on the list. Unfortunately for her, it didn't matter; despite buying everything on the list, her team did such a spectacularly bad job of negotiating prices that the other team still won despite only buying 7 of the 10 items and getting massively fined as a result.
- Averted, then wonderfully subverted, in the interview stage in Series 6. This episode saw the return of Margaret Mountford to the series as one of the interviewers the candidates faced:
Margaret: Good morning.
Stuart Baggs "The Brand": (elated) Margaret! (offers hand) Nice to meet you. Stuart.
Margaret: Nice to meet you, but would you normally address an interviewer in this position by their first name when you haven't met?
Baggs: Perhaps not, I just feel like I know you, because I've seen you before.
Margaret: Yes, but, erm... you don't.
Baggs: (looks deflated) Miss Mountford.
Margaret: That's better, thank you.
- Myles, Leah and Natalie zigzagged this trope in a series nine task. Classic task - the teams pick the best-selling inventions, schmooze the inventors, and the inventors get to choose which team they want to sell their products. Leah and Myles had clearly seen the show before, Myles being careful to be as enthusiastic as possible, and Leah making sure to negotiate a discount, should they need it... but both candidates hammer the buttons so hard that they come across leery and dispassionate, respectively, and the inventor - inevitably - awards the product to the other team.
- Recap Episode: The Apprentice: Why I Fired Them is shown before the final and recapitulates the series up to that point.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Series 9 finalists Luisa and Leah, the former proclaiming that she had "the energy of a Duracell bunny" whilst the latter was deemed the coldest competitor of the final five by the interviewers. In fact, both wore outfits in their Oni colours to the boardroom each time.
- Retool: Between Series 6 and 7, the prize changed from working for Lord Sugar to a £250,000 investment from him. As a consequence, the format of the last two episodes was swapped: the interviews were moved to the final, rather than being held in the penultimate episode.
- The Runner Up Takes It All: To an extent, inherent in the format. The winner of a series would spend the following year working for Lord Sugar or starting their new business, while the runner-up would have more options open to them, often including higher-profile media work. Saira Khan, Ruth Badger and Kate Walsh all became TV presenters after finishing second.
- Shoddy Knockoff Product: Something which can trip up the candidates during the "buy a list of ten items" challenge. In particular, the Series 4 incarnation of the task had one team happily purchasing a set of knockoff tagines in Marrakesh, with none of them thinking it in any way strange that the tagines cost a tenth of the guideline price.
- Spin-Off: The Celebrity Apprentice and The Junior Apprentice. Additionally both the UK and Irish regular versions of The Apprentice have a spin off show called The Apprentice: You're Fired which airs after the regular show and interviews whichever candidate had been fired that week.
- Team Mum: In series 10, Lord Sugar described Katie Bulmer-Cooke as this.
- Tempting Fate: If, when a task is announced, a candidate says that this is their dream task or that they do it all the time in their day job, odds are good that by the end of the episode they'll be in the taxi on their way home.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: In the first boardroom session of Series 9:
Jaz: Aww, man!
Lord Sugar: I am not 'man'. I am 'Lord Sugar'.
- Third-Person Person: Felipe in Series 10 refers to himself in the third person, both in the to-camera interviews and in the boardroom.
- Those Two Guys: Deadpan Snarkers Nick and Margaret.
- Took a Level in Badass: James in Series 10. After five episodes of being a borderline Joke Character, he takes Lord Sugar's warning to "Stop being a bloody clown" to heart and leads his team to victory in the "Design A Board Game" task, making nearly £1000 more than the other team. Though that the other team's product was crap certainly was a factor.
- Though this only lasts until Episode 8 when he serves up a pretty big Epic Fail and gets fired for it.
- Daniel in the same series. He takes a commanding and charismatic lead on the "Buy items as cheaply as possible" and task and is praised by his teammates. Though he drops any badass points gained when they lose the task and the arguing begins. It does appear to have saved him from a firing though.
- Trailers Always Spoil: You can sometimes tell how long a candidate will last from the montage underpinning Mark Halliley's narration at the start of each episode. The less they appear, the more likely they are to get fired in the early stages.
- Also, if you know the nature of a task in advance, you can also roughly tell how long a candidate will last. For example; part of Series 10 Episode 9 was to buy a Kosher chicken, and the montage includes Daniel saying "Shalom" to a man in a shop. Revealing that he would last at least until Episode 9.
- TV Telephone Etiquette: The calls from Lord Sugar's office to the house phone are rarely properly concluded - the candidates tend to just hang up rather briskly.
- The Unfair Sex: In Series 8, Katie Wright wrote on her CV that "men can be manipulated". After she was fired, she was given a round of applause on You're Fired for being "a shining example for women in business" according to a female entrepreneur. Meanwhile, rival candidate Adam Cobally's heavy-handed attempts at chivalry came across as condescending and mildly sexist and were joked about every week on You're Fired. He was placed in the position where he had to defend what he said on You're Fired. He didn't do a bad job but considering that Katie didn't have to go through the same thing for a worse comment, she comes across as a Karma Houdini.
- The Unintelligible: Edward Hunter from Series 7 tended to be this, mostly due to his habit of speaking in sentence fragments and non-sequiturs. He even did it several times during his appearance on You're Fired!, much to the amusement of the panel.
- Unwitting Pawn: In the interviews round, Lee McQueen was asked by one interviewer to do his "Reverse Pterodactyl" impression. Lee obliged — only to be told that he was an unprofessional douchebag, and that if he had been treating the interview at all seriously he would have refused to do the impression. Not that it stopped Lee from winning that series, though.
- Wham Episode: Series 10 Episode 4 is a pretty run-of-the mill episode until Lord Sugar initiates the UK version's first ever triple firing.
- What Were They Selling Again?: Even moreso than in the US edition, mostly due to the contestants being Wrong Genre Savvy. Whereas the US candidates are advertising for major companies and can afford to make the adverts more artistic at the expense of explaining what the product is, the UK candidates have to advertise brand new products and do a lot more in the way of informing potential customers about the products. This almost invariably results in one team coming up with a better advert than the other, but losing because it doesn't inform the customer well enough. Other variations include the wrong aspect of the product being advertised (Series 2), or the team creating a brand which works against the product (Series 5 and 7). In the first series, Sir Alan complained that real advertising agencies often fall into the same traps.
- Averted in Young Apprentice, of all places. The 2011 edition had both the teams' adverts make it clear what was being advertised, finally resulting in an instance where the losers simply had the worst advert.
- It's worth considering that adverts that completely fail to describe their product is one of the things Alan Sugar nominated for Room 101 when he was the guest on that show. You'd think that would give the candidates a clue.
- With This Herring: The traditional "find a list of ten items with only the phone directory to help you" task comes across increasingly like this, with Lord Sugar even going so far as to apologise to the 2011 Young Apprentice candidates for having to rely on such outdated research methods.
- Worthy Opponent: Yasmina and Debra in Series 5 express this attitude of each other in episode 10, with Yasmina admitting she'd hire Debra for her organisation, and Debra saying Yasmina was the only other candidate comparable to her.
- Wrong Genre Savvy:
- The whole "bring back an advocate" thing has largely been averted by UK candidates, after Lindsay's attempt at doing this in the second episode of Series 1 blew up spectacularly in her face — mostly because she forgot to actually tell her intended advocate, Miriam, that she was supposed to be criticising Adele (who Lindsay wanted to be fired) and not Lindsay herself. The only other candidate to commit this mistake was Ghazal from Series 3, who decided to bring back Katie in an effort to get Naomi fired, but completely undermined her own idea by going on and on about how awesome Katie was, thereby making her plan obvious.
- In Series 6, Laura mistakenly thought that Lord Sugar wouldn't allow them to make an exclusivity deal on a product they designed, when in fact he only disallows exclusivity deals if it's someone else's product (see the Berserk Button mentioned above). As a result, she threw away an order which probably would have won them the task and her team ended up with zero orders for the first time in the program's history.
- Jordan in Series 9 seemed to think he was on Dragon's Den, trying to negotiate the percentage of equity Lord Sugar would receive in the proposed joint company — and making his opening offer a 15% stake rather than the 50% that the rules dictate. This did not go down well with Lord Sugar or his aides.
The Irish version contains examples of:
- Epic Fail: In Season 3 the two teams were tasked with creating a calendar celebrating the Ford Fiesta. The winning team ended up with an 11 month calendar (they ran out of time before reaching December) while the other side submitted a calendar that didn't mention either Ford or the Fiesta and gave the wrong website address.
- First Name Basis: In contrast with the formal "Mr Trump" and "Lord Sugar", Bill Cullen is "Bill" to everyone.
- Funny Foreigner: Panos Zambetakis from Season 3; a camp, gay Greek ex-soldier with a phobia about power tools who rapidly became a fan favourite (though in fact he proved quite capable and made it to the interview stage).
- I Was Young and Needed the Money: During the interview round, Michelle Massey, eventual winner of Season 3 was revealed to not only be a former model (which was already known) but also to have interviewed to be a hostess on the Playboy channel.
- My Nayme Is: Aoiffe Madden from Season 2 and Cahal Heapes from Season 3 (for non Irish viewers, Aoife is much more usually spelled with one 'f' and Cathal comes with a 't'.)
- Product Placement: Constantly used, perhaps to an even greater degree than the US version.
- Unfortunately it's for the grim reason that we couldn't afford it otherwise.
- Reality TV Show Mansion: Perhaps the ultimate example in any version of the The Apprentice - not because it is more elaborate but because it gets an entire Spin-Off devoted to the shenanigans going on inside (see below.)
- Small Name, Big Ego: Season 2's Stephen Higgins, who proclaimed himself the "brightest man of [his] generation".
- Spin-Off: The Apprentice: At Home.