Belfast Telegraph

Lord Sugar threatened to quit The Apprentice unless prize was changed

Lord Sugar has denied claims his jokes on The Apprentice are scripted, insisting his sharp humour is "off the cuff".

Lord Sugar threatened to quit The Apprentice unless the BBC agreed to change the format of the show.

The 69-year-old mogul has been fronting the business/reality programme for the past 12 series, with his no nonsense approach and quick wit proving popular with viewers.

However, he has revealed in a new interview with The Sun newspaper that he considered leaving the show unless bosses agreed to change the prize the winner receives.

Initially, the winner was given a paid job at one of Lord Sugar's companies, but this was changed in 2011 so the successful candidate is instead given a £250,000 investment in their business idea by the magnate.

“It wasn’t a good idea and that was it," Lord Sugar said of the initial format. "I said, ‘I’m not doing that any more’. That was the only basis on which I was going to continue doing it. Giving someone a job was turning out to be quite difficult.

"It was problematic as far as other employees were concerned. You don’t just create a job out of thin air. Otherwise you don’t have a good business do you? There was never an empty job.

"I would frankly not be still doing this if I hadn’t changed the format."

The new series of The Apprentice kicks off on Thursday night (06Oct16), with a new batch of hopefuls aiming to impress Lord Sugar with their business acumen.

While the programme has spawned successful business men and women, it has also seen some of the contestants become celebrities, and the show boss isn't too keen on those who use the programme as a stepping stone to fame.

“Let’s not kid ourselves. We try to sift out those who come for the wrong reasons but if you’re a good actor you can get through," he said. "The production company knows the criteria of the kind of candidate I would like. And I always pick the right person in the end."

The premiere of the new series will see Lord Sugar come out with some cracking jokes. But while there has been speculation the humour is scripted, the mogul insists his comments are always spontaneous.

“I don’t know how you can script things to say when you’re sat with 18 people in front of you," he growled. "You don’t know what’s coming out of their mouths next. It’s off the cuff, obviously."

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