Regrettably, I must inform you that winning The Apprentice is not the only way that its candidates can profit from the television show. They are gaining success through online fame and are using the series as a platform to do so.
Lord Alan Sugar has headed the British reality show for 17 series, with its first release dating back to 2005. It attracts competitive, strong-headed individuals who want to pursue their business ventures and win the support of Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment.
The show is structured by its weekly challenges in which the candidates are grouped into two teams and complete business related tasks. Viewers are able to witness the candidates’ bickering as they attempt to work collaboratively; I must admit that this is my favourite part. Yet, the climax of each episode unfolds in the boardroom when three members of the losing team are grilled by Lord Sugar with one ultimately being told, ‘You’re Fired’.
The show only has one winner but the rejected candidates do not leave empty handed. The series has become a platform, with its participants using this spotlight to establish their online identity. The show has garnered a large viewership and after returning from its pandemic hiatus, its launch episode in 2022 reached an audience of 4.6 million. Candidates are aware of the series’ popularity and are employing social media as a tool for self-promotion. Last year’s class did not shy away from capitalising on this as many were able to develop a strong presence on sites such as TikTok.
The 2022 participants, Nick Showering and Akshay Thakrar have succeeded in gaining an online influence subsequent to the show. Both have received millions of views and likes by uploading comical skits on their TikTok profiles. Nick was able to consolidate an audience by posting his reactions to each week’s episode as they were released. Now, he has accumulated a follower count of 136 thousand as well as 7.5 million likes.
Akshay has similarly used his experience on the series to gain a following and has created the Scale Up Podcast where he discusses The Apprentice with fellow ex-candidates as well as talking about his own business. He uploads these conversations on YouTube and has been able to monetise these videos, enabling him to profit from simply expressing an opinion. Despite both candidates failing to impress Lord Sugar, they have managed to make their own winnings from the show.
Now, The Apprentice 2023 has already begun and this year’s line-up has learnt from its predecessors. Its candidates are actively posting and growing their own following as episodes continue to air. It appears that the show is beginning to create influencers, instead of business owners. I think that Lord Sugar may believe that he is the judge, jury and executioner, but it is clear that the candidates no longer need him to determine their success.