|The Apprentice (British series 12)|
Promo group shot of Alan Sugar standing before the candidates for series 12
|Country of origin||UK|
|No. of episodes||14|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Original release||6 October –|
18 December 2016
Series twelve of The Apprentice, a British reality television series, began broadcasting in the UK during 2016, from 6 October to 18 December on BBC One; due to live coverage of the UK EU membership referendum in late Spring of that year, alongside live coverage of Euro 2016 and the 2016 Rio Olympics during Summer, the BBC postponed the series' broadcast until the middle of Autumn to avoid clashing with these major events.
It is the only series to date to have episodes aired on Thursdays, rather than on Wednesdays as is traditionally arranged for the programme's broadcast schedule, and the only one to feature a candidate quitting the programme while a task is currently in progress. Alongside the standard twelve episodes, the series was preceded by the mini online episode "Meet the Candidates" on 27 September, with two specials aired alongside the series – "The Final Five" on 13 December, and "Why I Fired Them" on 16 December.
Eighteen candidates took part in the twelfth series, with Alana Spencer becoming the overall winner. Excluding the specials, the series averaged around 7.12 million viewers during its broadcast.
Towards the conclusion of the eleventh series' broadcast, applications for the twelfth series were made available in December 2015, with production staff assessing applicants between January and February 2016. Work on filming the series took place from late Spring to early Summer, once assessments had determined which eighteen applicants would form the final line-up. Both the filming and broadcast schedule for this series had to take into account three major events receiving live TV coverage during 2016 – the UK government had announced in 2015 that they would be holding a major referendum pertaining to the future of the country's EU membership, which the major broadcasters would be covering, while the BBC's Summer schedule had been prepared to oversee live coverage of both Euro 2016 and the 2016 Rio Olympics. As such it stuck to the same arrangement as had been used in the previous series, though unusually the episodes were arranged so that the majority took place on Thursdays within the standard timeslot it occupied; it is the only series to date to have this arrangement in its broadcast schedule.
Filming on the first task saw the men name their team Titans, while the women named their team Nebula. The series is notable for being the second time that both teams lost a task, though with six candidates being brought to face an in-depth review of their performance, the highest number to ever be brought back to the boardroom on any incarnation of The Apprentice brand. It is also the first time in the show's history that a candidate quit the programme while a task was currently underway, while the result of the Interviews stage drew notable criticism over gender discrimination in the aftermath of the episode that members of the programme, particularly Karen Brady, refuted. Of those who took part, Alana Spencer would become the eventual winner, going on to use her prize to start up a nationwide bakery business she would name Ridiculously Rich.
|Alana Spencer||Cake company owner||24||Winner|
|Courtney Wood||Novelty gift company owner||29||Runner-up|
|Frances Bishop||Children's clothing company owner||25||Fired after Interviews stage|
|Jessica Cunningham||Online fashion entrepreneur||29|
|Grainne McCoy||Make-up studio owner||31|
|Trishna Thakrar||Recruitment agent||28||Fired after tenth task|
|Sofiane Khelfa||Senior sales executive||32||Fired after ninth task|
|Dillon St. Paul||Art director||37|
|Paul Sullivan||Marketing agency owner||38||Fired after eighth task|
|Samuel Boateng||Sales manager||27||Fired after seventh task|
|Karthik Nagesan||IT consultancy owner||33|
|Rebecca Jeffery||Design & marketing agency owner||31||Fired after sixth task|
|JD O'Brien||Beachwear company owner||37||Fired after fifth task|
|Mukai Noiri||Digital marketing manager||36||Fired after fourth task|
|Aleksandra King||Business consultancy owner||38||Quit during fourth task|
|Oliver Nohl-Oser||Food distribution business owner||33||Fired after third task|
|Natalie Hughes||Hair and beauty salon owner||30||Fired after second task|
|Michelle Niziol||Property consultancy owner||35||Fired after first task|
- The candidate won this series of The Apprentice.
- The candidate was the runner-up.
- The candidate won as project manager on his/her team, for this task.
- The candidate lost as project manager on his/her team, for this task.
- The candidate was on the winning team for this task / they passed the Interviews stage.
- The candidate was on the losing team for this task.
- The candidate was brought to the final boardroom for this task.
- The candidate was fired in this task.
- The candidate lost as project manager for this task and was fired.
- The candidate left the competition on this task.
|Title||Original air date||UK viewers|
|155||1||"Collectables"||6 October 2016||7.60|
|Lord Sugar searches for a new business partner for 2015 amongst eighteen new candidates. For their first task, each team is given a collection of antiques which they must value, before making as much money with each piece by selling them around London at markets and to traders. The men manage good sales with their antiques, performing well despite choosing a poor marketing location late into the task and one sub-team making some mistakes with selling pieces. The women manage reasonable sales, but face chaos without any strategy, with half the team suffering from issues due to problematic members, spending too long valuing their pieces, and not having their items on hand for a potential deal. Titans achieve victory despite criticism against some members by Lord Sugar, while Nebula faces the boardroom to be questioned over their efforts. Of the final three, Michelle Niziol becomes the first candidate to be fired for her poor management skills and for providing no strategy for the team to use on the task.|
|156||2||"Advertising – Jeans"||13 October 2016||7.59|
|Teams find themselves each creating a brand and advertising campaign for a new range of Japanese denim jeans, before pitching their concept to industry experts. Titans focus their campaign's target market towards both men and women, but face issues from poor communication amongst the team and in-fighting between members, while their concept is panned by the experts for its poor advertising, despite being praised for their clear marketing message. Nebula focus their campaign's target market solely towards women, but face issues from a weak leader, with the experts criticising their concept for having an unclear marketing message and providing a poorly designed TV advert. In the boardroom, Lord Sugar deems neither team the winner, leaving three members from each to face scrutiny over their performance. Of the final six, Natalie Hughes is fired due to her self-confessed lack of drive to continue in the process, and her lack of contributions and business initiative.|
|157||3||"Corporate Candy"||20 October 2016||7.49|
|Lord Sugar assigns each team to manufacture their own range of sweets, selling these around Brighton to passing trade and a corporate client. Titans opt for making a range of luxury styled toffees and pillow sweets, yet despite a manufacturing mishap and an aggressive salesperson on the team, they manage good sales throughout the task. Nebula focus on a range of traditional seaside treats, including candy rock and fudge, but face serious issues due to a problematic member up-selling an arranged deal at a reduced price, having no pricing strategy amongst their street sellers, and failing to sell any of their fudge due to the flavour they use with it. Titans manage success over their sweet range and sales, while Nebula face questions over the mistakes they made. Amongst the losing team, Oliver Nohl-Oser is dismissed for weak and indecisive leadership, failing a task he was suited to, and choosing a flavour for the fudge that was unappealing with customers.|
|158||4||"Department Store"||27 October 2016||7.83|
|Each team find themselves working within the world-famous department store Liberty of London, selling products in their own retail space, complete with a new line, along with running their own personal-shopping service for discerning shoppers. Titans manage good sales when handling scarves through making use of good window display, despite customers disliking their new line, while they secure little sales from their personal shopping service due to a lack of customer information. Nebula secure little sales when handling handbags, due to properly utilising a window display, despite providing a good personal shopping service. Titans win the task with their performance against the poor efforts of Nebula, though are surprised to learn that Aleksandra King resigned from the process due to missing her family and personal reasons. Amongst the losing team, Mukai Noiri is fired for influencing the team on their choice of product, his lack of sales, and his overall track record.|
|159||5||"Cycling Crowdfunding"||3 November 2016||7.51|
|Teams handle specialised crowdfunding for a new cycling product, with each team coming up with their own PR stunt and campaign video to help secure pledges from cycling retailers. Nebula opt for promoting safety-designed headphones with a modified song performed by a gospel choir, managing to secure a reasonable number of pledges, but provide a poor pitch due to a lack of proper pricing information, create a poor video of their PR stunt, and make a mistake on their crowdfunding site that delays pledging. Titan opt for promoting a gilet with built-in LED lights, yet while the promo video for the product is poorly conceived, they secure a good amount of pledges, in part due to their pitch impressing the retailers thanks to a strong pitcher. Nebula face criticism over their performance, after Titans win the task with the total pledges they secure. Of the final three, JD O'Brien is dismissed for his mistakes as team leader, his unsuitable personality, and his lack of contributions in tasks.|
|160||6||"Discount Buying"||10 November 2016||7.41|
|Lord Sugar gives each team a list of nine items he requires, but with a twist – they must each seek out bargains around London, from dusk to dawn. Titans opt to source items on the move and manage to secure eight of the required items, but waste time securing three of their purchases and making little negotiations on one other purchase. Nebula focus on sourcing their items and manage to secure seven of the required items, yet despite getting a bargain on one purchase and acquiring two others swiftly, the team waste time on a fruitless negotiation and researching places for each item, with half the team failing to return on time and earning a fine as a result. A tally of spends soon reveal that Titans managed to control it, leaving Nebula to face scrutiny on their performance. Of the final three, Rebecca Jeffery is ejected from the process for failing to make any purchases, her poor presence in tasks, and her overall track record.|
|161||7||"Boat Show"||17 November 2016||6.80|
|Each team heads to the Poole Harbour Boat Show, selling a selection of boating and leisure industry products to visitors. Nebula focus on selling a motorboat, themed backpacks, full face snorkels and paddleboards, managing good sales thanks to strong salesmanship and their motorboat sellers engaging potential customers. Titans focus on selling jet skis, fish cushions, stand-changing robes and watersports boards, but secure few sales due to lack of focus on pricing strategy with accessories, and too much focus with pre-arranged appointments for the jet skis. Nebula are praised over their efficient sales skills, while Titans face the boardroom over their dismal sale figures. Amongst the losing team, Karthik Nagesan is fired for his poor leadership, his lack of sales and his questionable personality, while Samuel Boateng is dismissed for his stubborn personality, not being involved with the high-end product, and his lack of presence in tasks.|
|162||8||"London Landmarks"||24 November 2016||6.59|
|Lord Sugar instructs each team to organise an exclusive late-night themed event, offering food, a guided VIP tour of their venue's site, and entertainment to those attending it. Titans host a "fantasy island" themed event at the London Aquarium, achieving good ticket sales and receiving favourable feedback on the entertainment and canapes they provide, despite selling little of their chosen hot meal and providing a poor VIP tour. Nebula host a "casino night" themed event at Madame Tussauds, yet while their VIP tour is well-received, they face issues with disorganisation on their ticket pricing strategy, providing poor canapes, and making a mistake with hot food sales that see many guests receiving these for free. Titans manage good satisfaction and sales to secure victory, leaving Nebula to face questions over the mistakes they made. Of the final three, Paul Sullivan is fired for his poor leadership and decisions in the task, and for his aggressive attitude with the other candidates.|
|163||9||"Virtual Reality Game"||1 December 2016||6.57|
|Teams receive a special task to create a brand new VR video game, with each pitching their concept to gaming experts at the world-famous Comic Con exhibition. Nebula focus on a space-styled adventure game in which players seek out a lost space pet, yet despite issues with the branding and game design, their concept was well received thanks to a strong pitcher engaging their audience. Titans focus on an underwater-styled puzzle game in which player find and piece together various shells, but present a badly disorganised pitch, with their audience disliking their concept's overall design. Voting by the experts soon reveals Nebula to be the winner, leaving Titans to face questions over their flawed design. Amongst the losing team, Dillon St. Paul is dismissed for his unsuitable personality and limited skill set, along with creating the team's poor design, while Sofiane Khelfa is ejected from the process for his poor authority, pitching and management skills, failing a task connected to his proposal, and his overall track record.|
|164||10||"Gin"||8 December 2016||7.02|
|Each team is tasked in making their own brand of gin, before pitching their concept to major drink retailers. Titans create a spicy gin with an orange colour, but face issues from poor communication amongst the team, while the retailers make little orders due to criticising the gin's colour, the lack of information on their bottle's label and the negative connotations of the branding. Nebula create a fruity gin, yet despite the team leader struggling to conceive certain aspects of the branding and handle the pitches, along with concerns over the weakness of one part of the flavour, the retailers make considerable orders due to giving good feedback on their product. Titans find their orders are less than those achieved by Nebula, and soon face criticism over what they created for the task. Of the final three, Trishna Thakrar is fired for solely contributing to the colouring of the team's gin, refusing to accept responsibility for her mistakes, undermining the team leader's authority, and her negative attitude in the task.|
|165||SP–1||"The Final Five"||13 December 2016||N/A|
|As this year's series of The Apprentice draws closer to its finale, this special episode takes a look at profiling the true story behind the five remaining candidates. Discussing their backgrounds, experiences, personality, and strengths and weaknesses, are a selection of each candidate's friends, family and colleagues, as well as Lord Sugar's aides, Claude Littner and Karren Brady.|
|166||11||"Interviews"||15 December 2016||N/A|
|After facing ten tasks as teams, the five remaining candidates now compete as individuals in their next task – a series of tough, gruelling interviews with four of Lord Sugar's most trusted associates. Each member faces scrutiny over their backgrounds, work experience, track record, and business proposals when questioned by interviewers. Feedback to Lord Sugar, alongside observations by his aides, leads him to deciding that concerns on her business plan and her lack of business experience makes Grainne McCoy no longer suitable for his investment, while Jessica Cunningham is dismissed for her poor track record and a serious issue with the business model of her proposal, and Frances Bishop is fired for the limited scale-ability of her proposal alongside her lack of financial and organisational skill. Of the remaining two, despite concerns on their plans, Alana Spencer is praised for improving over the course of the process and her profitable products, while Courtney Woods is noted by interviewers with having plenty of potential.|
|167||SP–2||"Why I Fired Them"||16 December 2016||N/A|
|As the final looms, Lord Sugar takes a look back to the tasks he set for this year's series of The Apprentice. From valuing antiques to creating Virtual Reality Games, through manufacturing sweets and creating cycle campaigns, he relieves all of the mistakes, disasters and doomed decisions that were made, and gives out his reasons for what made him fire a candidate in that respective task when their arguments were not enough to survive the firing line in the boardroom.|
|168||12||"The Final"||18 December 2016||7.62|
|After facing a multitude of business tasks and a tough interview, the two finalists, aided by old friends, face the task of presenting their business proposal to an audience of business and industry experts, detailing key areas in it – its name, its goals, its target market, and its business structure. Alana works to present her plan for a nationwide baked goods brand, receiving positive feedback on her packaging and the USP of her branding, yet faces concerns over her ability to run a large business. Courtney works to present his idea for new brand of novelty goods, receiving praise for his ability to produce new products at a reasonable rate due to those he designs for his presentation, but faces questions over his proposal's costs and the ability to protect his ideas. Based on feedback from these presentations, Lord Sugar deems that Alana Spencer will be his business partner for 2016 for the strong potential of her plan, leaving Courtney Woods to become runner-up due to issues over the weak presence his plan would have in his target market.|
Criticism and controversy
Following the second episode, fans of the show went onto social media to criticize the selection of candidates for the series as being "the worst ever" in the show's history, based upon the result of the second task, with some remarking that the candidates hadn't shown anything worthwhile to make them continue watching the programme. However, Claude Littner felt differently about the candidates for the series, panning the comments made on social media by stating in an interview:
"It is stressful. Having me stand there and all the cameras, and then Lord Sugar asking questions – it's not comfortable, that's for sure. So I think, every year everyone says ‘oh these candidates aren't very good are they,’ it's just that they’re put under pressure. All these people saying ‘this is the worst bunch,’ or whatever it is that they’re saying, I just think is farcical, really."
Allegations of racism and sexism
Following the broadcast of the sixth episode, a number of viewers made accusations that Dillon St. Paul had been racist after he complained about Karthik Nagesan's negotiation technique for their team's lengha, by remarking that it was being basically "Indian chit-chat". In response to this, Dillon apologized for what he said, stating:
"I would never intentionally set out to say something derogatory. I apologise if my comment caused offence, it was not intended in that manner."
In a similar incident three episodes earlier, a number of viewers also made accusations on Twitter that Sofiane Khelfa had been sexist after he made a comment of wanting to stay out of the manufacturing process of sweets by stating that "I've got a wife who cooks for me."
Allegations of gender discrimination
Following the broadcast of the Interviews episode, it was alleged by the media that Lord Sugar had fired Grainne McCoy, Jessica Cunningham and Frances Bishop, purely on the basis of them being working mothers. However, Karren Brady, herself a working mother, denied the allegations when the matter was raised during her guest appearance on Loose Women the day after the episode's broadcast, claiming that:
"The people that went through were those who had the best business plans – I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that they're working mums or not working mums. It was purely a decision based on who's got the best business plan and who's done the best."
Following the broadcast of Week 9, it was revealed by The Mail on Sunday that Lord Sugar had been following Alana Spencer on Twitter, although she was not named in their report. The newspaper explained that it was a tradition of his, every year, to follow the candidate that had won that respective series of The Apprentice. The revelations caused an uproar of controversy by many, with Sugar admitting to his mistake before he subsequently unfollowed the candidate as a direct result, in an effort to conceal the winner's identity before the finale had been aired.
|Air date||7-day viewers
|1||6 October 2016||7.37||7.60||4|
|2||13 October 2016||7.40||7.59||5|
|3||20 October 2016||7.37||7.49||4|
|4||27 October 2016||7.65||7.83||4|
|5||3 November 2016||7.37||7.51||4|
|6||10 November 2016||7.26||7.41||6|
|7||17 November 2016||6.60||6.80||8|
|8||24 November 2016||6.40||6.59||10|
|9||1 December 2016||6.38||6.57||10|
|10||8 December 2016||6.89||7.02||4|
|11||15 December 2016||7.24||7.37||4|
|12||18 December 2016||7.45||7.62||3|
|The Final Five||13 December 2016||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Why I Fired Them||16 December 2016||TBA||TBA||TBA|
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- Official site BBC