The Apprentice’s most embarrassing contestants

The Apprentice line-up from 2007, as the show's latest batch of hopefuls aim to impress Lord Sugar today. Picture: PA
The Apprentice line-up from 2007, as the show's latest batch of hopefuls aim to impress Lord Sugar today. Picture: PA
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AFTER a decade on the air and with a new series unveiled today, we look back at some of The Apprentice’s most cringeworthy business buffoons

Some of them may have become favourites of Lord Alan Sugar and even won the series, but all ten of these Apprentice contestants said and did some toe-curlingly embarrassing things during their time on the show.

Katie Hopkins. Picture: BBC/Talkback Thames

Katie Hopkins. Picture: BBC/Talkback Thames


Although you may have blocked the traumatic viewing experience from your memory by now, the UK’s most controversial media figure first sprang to fame during a stint on The Apprentice in 2007. Unsurprisingly, Hopkins did her fair share of back-stabbing and dealt more than a few low blows on the show. That being said, she was one of Lord Sugar’s preferred contestants and was offered a spot on the series final which she ultimately turned down.

Most memorable quote: “She’s a complete snake in the grass and, frankly, too orange to be taken seriously.”


He started strongly but then things went so very wrong for series two contestant Paul Tulip. After winning seven out of the 10 tasks he competed in, Tulip flew too close to the sun and was revealed as a bit of an idiot after he admitted to not knowing exactly what Lord Sugar’s companies did – to, er, Lord Sugar. Tulip was fired after 11 weeks on the show for arrogant behaviour and an unimpressive CV. Oh, and probably for referring to Big Issue sellers as “lazy” too.

Most memorable quote: “Yes I was fired, but I’m Paul off the telly now.”


She may only have been 21 when she appeared on The Apprentice in 2011, but the distinctly dense Susan Ma gave young people a bad name with her naivety. With a good business mind but no obvious common sense, Ma drove her fellow contestants to distraction with questions such as: “What’s at the British museum? Just, like, dinosaurs and stuff?” Despite her lack of general knowledge, Ma made it through to the series finale, but was fired for her inexperience.

Most memorable quote: “Are the French really fond of their children? Do the French go camping? I know nothing about the French and their culture.”


Calling himself a “nice Jewish boy” on his CV, Sophocles stitched himself up by confusing halal with kosher in week seven. Sophocles consequently got a right telling off from the (genuinely) Jewish Lord Sugar but managed to hang on until week 10 when he was fired for his extremely poor track record. Sugar later admitted that he gave Sophocles too many chances and should have given him the boot much earlier.

Most memorable quote: “I’ve shown glimmers of brilliance.”


Not to be confused with the popular Puerto Rican singer, series eight Apprentice hopeful Ricky Martin actually ended up winning the competition in 2012. Nonetheless, Martin’s initial interview was so embarrassing that you probably hid your eyes behind your hands while watching the first time around. He may have presented a solid business plan in the final episode, but Martin still said “The only thing that really scares me is myself” on national television. And meant it.

Most memorable quote: “When it comes to business, I’m like a shark. I’m right at the top of the food chain. I truly am the reflection of perfection.”


Stuart “The Brand” Baggs will go down in history as one of the most memorable Apprentice contestants to date. With a seemingly endless supply of cringey one-liners up his sleeve, notorious blagger Baggs was caught lying on his CV in week 11 and shown the door by a furious Lord Sugar. Baggs later said the experience had left him “the most unemployable person in the country”. Sadly, he passed away in July this year aged 27.

Most memorable quote: “Everything I touch turns to sold.”


Fired in week 11 of series four for being “too zany” (but also for having a non-business related aromatherapy degree) Lucinda Ledgerwood had never even seen an episode of The Apprentice before applying to take part. Quirky dresser Ledgerwood was regularly put down and told to “be quiet” by fellow contestant Jenny Celerier. Before you feel too sorry for her, though, bear in mind that early on Ledgerwood declared: “I always win, so it’s a natural conclusion I will win.”

Most memorable quote: “I am technically useless.”


Remember the Apprentice contestant who kept banging on about his scholarship at Sandhurst? That was Ben Clarke. Even Lord Sugar got fed up with hearing the story repeatedly over nine weeks and sacked Clarke moments after telling him to “stop going on about bloody Sandhurst”.

Most memorable quote: “I am the best looking.”


The aforementioned Jenny Celerier had a promising CV, but that’s where her good points ended. As well as being a bully, Celerier repeatedly lied in an attempt to get her fellow contestants fired, tried to sabotage the opposing team during tasks and refused to take any responsibility for her actions. Pitchforks and torches were cast aside once she was fired in week seven, and everyone had a party.

Most memorable quote: “All day it’s been like I’ve had to breastfeed the pair of you.”


You’d think some of the series 10 Apprentices might have learned from the mistakes of nine years’ worth of predecessors, but 2014 contestant James Hill clearly wasn’t paying attention. The unethical and arrogant Hill was caught lying on more than one occasion and also awkwardly claimed to be kindred spirits with Lord Sugar. It seems not, since his “BFF” fired him in week eight.

Most memorable quote: “Me and Lord Sugar could build an empire together. I think I am him when he was my age.”