The Apprentice bragging game

Karren Brady, Lord Sugar and Nick Hewer with this year's candidates

The Apprentice is returning to British screens, bringing with it a slew of business buzz-phrase nonsense and baffling bravado from the candidates.

No one likes a show-off, least of all the British, which is why watching the overblown confidence of each new crop of Apprentice contestants is such a guilty pleasure.

Each year they take the bravado, swagger and self-aggrandisement to stratospheric new levels. They mix it with the usual business jargon that drives people mad. Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway has often written about the subject, calling for an end to all the "blue sky thinking", "going forwards" and "pushing the envelope".

We've been thoroughly spoilt in previous series. Who can forget Stuart "The Brand" Baggs last year uttering the now infamous line: "I'm not a one-trick pony, I'm not a 10-trick pony - I've got a field of ponies waiting to literally run towards this job." What?

Stuart Baggs Stuart Baggs had several good lines

Michelle Dewberry won the second series of the show. She beat Ruth "l'm the Apprentice - end of" Badger in the final. Dewberry says bragging is used more and more by candidates to try and stand out.

"I don't think I came out with the corkers they do. People are more media savvy now and it's becoming harder and harder for them to be remembered."

As a result, it has reached ridiculous levels, she says.

Here are some of the more eyebrow-raising lines from previous series.

Self belief (delusion)

"I was born to do great things," said Majid Nagra. No you weren't. You were born to be the third person kicked off series five of the show. Although, he may yet prove his bold claim to be true in some other field.

Philip Taylor Not quite the Elvis of business then Philip

"When you can break bricks with your hands you believe in your head you can do anything, and in business I take on the same ethic," said Ifti Chaudhri in series four. Andrew Billen, TV critic at the Times, says such horrible jargon is right out of Ricky Gervais's The Office, although done without any sense of irony. "They are Ricky's phrases in the making, but there's no self knowledge in any of it."

As it turns out Chaudhri left the show in the second week after telling Lord Sugar he was missing his family.

"Business is the new rock 'n' roll and I'm Elvis Presley," said Philip Taylor in series five. He turned out to be more like the business world's Chesney Hawkes, around very briefly and then unheard of.


"The spoken word is my tool," said silky-tongued Raef Bjayou in series four. That tool ceased to be needed in week nine of the series.

Jenny Maguire Was Maguire the best salesperson in Europe?

"Everything I touch turns to sold." Really Stuart Baggs? Everything except all those sausages your team failed to sell in the very first task in series six, resulting in you almost being fired by Lord Sugar in week one. "I don't know why they say these things, because Sugar is quite plain speaking," says Billen.

"I rate myself as the best salesperson in Europe," said Jenny Maguire in series four. It's best to avoid such specific bragging, says Dewberry. "When you see people saying that they're the best sales person you just think 'no'. They may go on and sell nothing in tasks."


"My first word wasn't mummy, it was money," said surgeon Shibby Robati in series six. It's a line Times columnist Caitlin Moran will never forget, obviously for all the wrong reasons. "It's the start of a breakdown, not the start of a glittering career," she says. "That's therapy - not a CV."

Lucinda Ledgerwood Ledgerwood thought she'd win - naturally

"Don't tell me the sky is the limit when there's footsteps on the moon." Yes, we've sneaked in a line from one of this year's candidates. Melody Hossani, we look forward to hearing a lot more from you.

"I always win, so it's a natural conclusion I will win," said Lucinda Ledgerwood in Series Four. Funnily enough, all the candidates seem to think it's a natural conclusion that they will win.

Fighting talk

"There are two types of people in the world: Winners and... I don't know how to say the word, I can't say it," said Ian Stringer in series four. He soon learned to say the word "loser" when he was fired in week three.

Ben Clarke Clarke likes business more than sex

"For me it is going to be the equivalent of a gladiatorial match and I will come out on top," said Bjayou in series four. The most hideous buzzwords and phrase are a mix of military metaphors, machismo and ruthlessness, says Billen. "The cleverness of the programme is that you have to be a team player but you're completely out for yourself. In the end you knife them in the boardroom, which is what it's really about."

"To me making money is better than sex," said Ben Clarke in Series Five. Too much information, thank you, Ben. Please, no references to sex. It doesn't work for anyone.

Did we miss any other classics? If so send them in using the form below.

"I think outside the box, if I was an apple pie the apples inside me would be oranges" (said by Alex in series six).

Matt Kowalski, London

How could you miss "I got a scholarship to Sandhurst", repeated ad nauseam by Ben Clarke in series 5?

Mark Jones, London

"I bring ignorance to the table "is my favourite ever line said by an Apprentice contestant during the interviews towards the end of one of the series.

Joanne Stern, Ruislip

I don't watch the show much, but I'm sure I remember one contestant saying something like "I can taste success in my spit when I wake up" (James in series five)

Geoff Knight, Yeovil

At the interviews stage of the last series, one of the contestants states, "I'm a cog, not just any cog..... I'm a key cog.....!

Brian Jenkins, Llanelli

Tre vs Rory, season 3. Rory: "I am, your boss!" Tre: "You are nothing to me". That line is used in our house multiple times a day. Never fails to make us laugh.

Stephen Fenwick, Surrey

Following on from Stuart Baggs's pony analogy, I'm pretty sure he said 'HARNESS ME, LORD SUGAR!'

Penny Clark, Bristol

"There's no room for maneouvrement" - said by Melissa in Series 5

Jay Burlace, London

Who can forget Jamie Lester and his classic "The early word catches the birm".

Andy Harris, Evesham

One of the contestants, Melissa Cohen, after having been fired stating that the remaining candidates "Karmically, they will be retributed".

Richard Varle, Durham

'I feel like a monkey that's learning to use tools', 'You're not reinventing the wheel with me, you may have to fix a couple of spokes' were my favourite two quotes from James McQuillan, by far the most entertaining Apprentice contestant yet.

Neil, UK

Remember Katie from two years ago when tearing into one of her competitors in the boardroom, "You've only got one speed and thats SLOW SLOW SLOW " This was a classic among many other choice phrases.

Vince Taylor, Usk

The quote that still puts a smile on my face comes from an estate agent in the very first series..." If a hundred people tell you that you are dead... then you better lie down..."

Nash, London

Raef: "I think we need to remember that people who are size 16 to 32, are size 16 to 32 for a reason, they love cake."

Dominic Henry, Liverpool

"I'm just a messenger, for the magic up here (points to his head)" (Tre Azam, series 3)

Nic Patel, Harrow

My absolute put down was when, in the interview stage, Stuart Baggs claimed to Claude Litner that he was "a big fish in a small pond", to which Claude replied, "you're not a big fish, you're not even a fish".

Michael Cadwallader, UK

Surely Simon Smith's "Lads, lads - ironing??! I was in KOSOVO...what do you think I learnt out THERE...?" was up there with the best.

Stuart Dean, London

Or Jamie leading the tour of London: "It''s called a Gherkin, because it looks like a Gherkin" or Big Ben is "20 diameters in width".

Jenny, Gainsborough

The unforgettable Katie of series three. A personal jab at project manager Adam after he brought her back into the board room: "When your best friends are Mr Pinot and Mr Grigio, I'd watch it..."

Fiona Malins, Christchurch

Anita Shah and her "Rainbow of skills" gets my vote!

Brian, Edinburgh

The worst effort at someone selling themselves was made by Lorraine saying "I'm a slow burner in the thought process."

Jamie Perkins, Bristol

I'm amazed how everyone seems to forget this particular Baggs belter that he seemed to entirely get away with. In one of his boardroom appearances he actually said, with a straight face, that he was; "the most successful young person in the world!"

Mark James, Ely

And from Edward last night: "Not only was I the youngest member of the team, but also the shortest". Classic - no wonder he got fired.

Sarah , London


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  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    It's television, stupid! Nothing to do with 'reality'. The Apprentice essentially uses the same formula all similar series do (X-factor, Big brother etc): Pick a bunch of delusional wannabes who's essential quality is that they are 'telegenic' (forget ability); Chuck them into situations way beyond their, usually feeble, abilities and then reap the dividend. Cheaper than a new costume drama init?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The problem with this show is that it's teaching our young people false values. It's the classic I'm alright jack and stuff everyone else. The sheer vanity, over confidence and delusion of the young 'contestants' beggars belief! Today everyone wants to be a Manager without putting in the hard graft as a worker first. Young Apprentice is especially cringing. It's trash TV, that's why we watch it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The Apprentice is a piece of modern stupidity that has nothing to do with teamwork and Sugar has nothing to contribute to industry, he's just a barrow-boy. It's interesting to see all these reality programs that emphasise 'competition', 'winners' and 'losers' and artificial scarcity but nothing about cooperating. I'm hoping for an Apprentice 'BBC Manager' edition where they 'compete' for jobs.


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