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Claude Littner ignored Apprentice candidates during show's filming

Published 14/10/2015

Claude Littner takes over from Nick Hewer as one of Lord Sugar's aides on the new series of The Apprentice
Claude Littner takes over from Nick Hewer as one of Lord Sugar's aides on the new series of The Apprentice

Lord Sugar's new right-hand man Claude Littner revealed he never spoke to The Apprentice candidates during filming, even ignoring them if they said hello.

Littner, best known for making candidates sweat in the show's interview episode with his fearsome interrogation techniques, took over from long-standing helper Nick Hewer to observe and report back on the teams for the 11th series.

And Littner frequently reminded Lord Sugar's potential business partners that he was not there to be their friends.

"I never spoke to any of them in the whole period. It's not my job to talk to them. If they said hello to me, I ignored them.

"I'm not trying to be their be their friend, I'm trying to just do the job I'm entitled to do which is to observe them and report back. That was my job and I hope that's all I did," he said.

Littner admitted that he'd initially turned down the promotion from Lord Sugar and had to be convinced to take the role by his old boss and the BBC.

"(Lord Sugar) approached me and said would I be interested in doing it and my immediate answer was not really, because I'm very happy doing the interviews and I'm very proud to have been doing the interviews for the last 10 years and I'd never sought a different role," he explained.

When Hewer left, he was the obvious replacement but "I wasn't particularly excited about the opportunity, not really. But after discussing it with the BBC and after discussing it with the production company and having another conversation with (Lord Suagr) I thought, you know I'll do it."

He was swayed by a life philosophy that has grown since he survived rare blood cancer non-Hodgkin's lymphoma several years ago. "My reason for doing it is because I think life is full of opportunities and I think you've got to take your opportunities when they arise," he said.

Littner certainly made no friends during his 10 years cross-examining wannabes' CVs. He famously told 2013 candidate Jordan Poulton: "You're a parasite. Frankly, I think this interview is terminated. You can leave now."

Last year, viewers watched breathlessly as he put the screws on Solomon Akhtar over his eight-page business plan, padded out with sailboat logos, before Akhtar nearly walked out the window in shock.

But Littner says he has no regrets over his "brutal" treatment of candidates.

"No, not at all. Why would I? (Solomon) was a disgrace. He came to the interview with pictures of sailboats: that was unacceptable. (Candidates are) entitled to be brutalised if they come to the interview stage and actually they don't come with the right kind of credentials," he said.

The comments will not lessen his Rottweiler reputation, but Littner claims that he's "not that bothered" about public opinion of him as he settles into his new role.

"I don't really care. I don't want to be horrible but I know who I am and I know what I am. I know my strengths, I know my weaknesses, I know that I'm a perfectly decent human being and I'm very happy with my values. I'm not out to prove myself to them one way or another. I am not that bothered."

He also revealed that although fellow aide Karren Brady might cast a steely eye over the candidates, she is not so straight faced with the newbie.

"On occasions I did do an interview on camera and she'd go behind and start making faces and things like that to put me off. But she's a good sport and I think she helped me a lot," he said.

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