The Apprentice is never short of drama. Whether it's pop-offs in the boardroom, candidate lies being caught out in interview round or, my personal favourite, the theory that Kurran from series 14 was a robot. The show is all go.
But recently some serious issues surrounding reality TV have come to light and there's been closer attention paid to what contestants in these shows are put through for our entertainment, as part of the government's inquiry into producers duty of care to participants. Now, ex-Apprentice contestant, Aleksandra King has made a number of unsettling claims against the show's producers.
Aleksandra, who left the show in week four of series 12, says she found the process "overwhelming". She alleges the show's producers use a number of tactics to "sabotage tasks" and "make contestants look stupid" to create "great TV while potentially ruining the reputation, career and even life of the affected candidate(s)."
In her claim, Aleksandra says that she was not able to speak openly about the process of being on the show due to a signed NDA "protecting The Apprentice brand," before going on to describe the process as "unfair and psychologically damaging".
Among the accusations, she claims that tasks are "rigged", with producers sabotaging hopefuls. She gives the example of a task in which her team had to make and sell candy canes to a client. Aleksandra says that the stock of candy canes was in "perfect condition" when packaged and left with production staff, but when the team returned they, "were shocked to see that not only was there stock missing but that our candy sticks were also cracked".
She then accuses production teams of limiting contact time not just with family and friends but also with each other, so that things were only said on camera; "...I found this ‘silencing’ very uncomfortable, unnatural and debilitating. When we were finally allowed to ‘speak’, emotions soared which caused horrible fighting, swearing and in some cases even very aggressive behaviour. Paul Sullivan and Mukai Noiri had to be ‘pulled apart’ during an incident in in week four."
One of her most shocking claims is that participants also had their sleep and mealtimes limited, saying that mealtimes were irregular and that food often consisted of only a small sandwich. When it came to sleep, Aleksandra said that sleep was "very limited" often to just four hours a night. She claimed that producers engineered this "in order to ensure candidates are physically and mentally weakened."
She called for more support for people who take part in these shows. "Something was clearly wrong and I was not able to sleep. I also reached a point in the process where I no longer had any appetite and would ‘gag’ just trying to force feed myself. Where was the psychologist or psychiatrist at the time? Something was clearly wrong but I was on my own and rapidly going down a very dangerous path."
In documents submitted to the inquiry by the BBC and production company, Freemantle, both companies state that the welfare of contestants is of fundamental importance to them and that there procedures in place to care for contestants. One example given is that an experienced member of the production team will live with the contestants in The Apprentice house to monitor the welfare of contestants on a daily basis.
We have reached out to the BBC for comment on these claims.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
You Might Also Like