The Apprentice has defended itself from viewer complaints that its latest episode was too “nasty”.
On Thursday (16 March), the reality series aired its penultimate episode, which shows the final five candidates receive a grilling from Lord Sugar’s trusty aides, including Claude Littner and Linda Plant.
However, viewers have complained that the episode, which is usually a fan favourite, was particularly harsh this year, with many saying they felt the contestants were being “bullied” by the interviewers.
However, a spokesperson for the series said in response: “The interviews round is more than just a normal interview. Its purpose is to help determine whose business plan has the potential to secure the £250k investment.
“As such, every detail must be thoroughly scrutinised and advisors will at times need to ask difficult questions. The stakes are high for candidates and emotions do run high as they want to secure a place in the final.
Joining Littner and Plant were Mike Souter and Baroness Karren Brady, who sits alongside Sugar in the boardroom.
Brady found herself at the centre of one of the episode’s most brutal moments. As Megan Hornby left her interview, which went dreadfully, she referred to Brady by her first name, to which Brady responded: “It’s Baroness Brady to you. My friends call me Karren.”
She also reduced two of the candidates to tears, with Victoria Goulborne and Dani Donovan both breaking down during their interview. However, each candidate made it clear before the interviews that they were most nervous about their interview with the businesswoman, as she had tracked their progress all series long.
But it was too much for some viewers, some of whom said they will no longer watch The Apprentice as a result.
Claire Donnachie wrote on Twitter: “The interviewers appear to be bullying the finalists. They are not interviewing. This is the last time I watch The Apprentice.”
Jake Johnstone added: “These interviews are actually just nasty. All for the cutting remarks and quips but some of this is just bullying.”
Saj called the episode “unpleasant”, writing: “This is on the verge of bullying,” while Jo added: “Why are people so rude on #TheApprentice? Take the business plan apart not the person. It’s become bullying, not constructive criticism.”
One viewer, S Zarras, said their “young daughter was horrified at seeing the interview process”, adding: “Young people go through so much anxiety. I never want her to believe that when she goes for her first job interview it’s going to be like this.”
By the end of the episode, Sugar fired Victoria, Dani and Megan, leaving Rochelle Raye Anthony and Marnie Swindells as the 2023 finalists.
The Apprentice finale airs on BBC One at 9pm on Thursday (23 March).