EXCLUSIVE: From banned bathrooms to the fake boardroom and actress secretary..

Sir Alan Sugar Sir Alan Sugar (Pic:BBC)

AS the trembling candidates cower before Sir Alan in his imposing boardroom, viewers believe they are 20 storeys up in a gleaming skyscraper.

In reality, they face Sir Alan's wrath in a mock-up of his offices at a West London TV studio.

As The Apprentice reaches its climax on Wednesday when Sir Alan is forced to choose between Simon Ambrose and Kristina Grimes, we reveal the secrets behind the making of the show...


1 ALTHOUGH the show runs for 12 weeks, the candidates spent just seven in the house, sometimes performing three tasks in as many days.

2 THE series was filmed last autumn. Last week's episode showed presenters on a home shopping channel wearing Remembrance Sunday poppies while Katie and Paul got into trouble trying to sell food to Muslims during Ramadan, which ended in October.

3 THE shots of candidates walking to their taxis after being fired were all shot on the same day early on in filming.

4 TO get round the fact that contestants may be wearing different clothes when they are fired, they're told to wear tightly-buttoned coats - whatever the weather. Eagle-eyed viewers last week may have spotted that Katie quit while in a black suit but had a white suit under her coat when she got into the cab.

5 THE post-firing taxi ride takes the candidate around the block to allow their interview to be filmed. They are then taken to a hotel to stay the night and finally leave the next day.

6 DESPITE the frequent shots of the gleaming towers of Canary Wharf, Sir Alan doesn't have an office in London's Docklands or the City. Amstrad's head office is in Brentwood, Essex. He has a base in Mile End Road, an office in St James, and Viglen - where last Wednesday's interviews were conducted - is based in Wembley.

7 THE boardroom is in fact in a TV studio in West London.

8 DURING the boardroom scene at the end of each show, Sir Alan's chair is bolted on to a wooden box to make him sit taller than advisers Margaret and Nick.

9 DIVORCEE Margaret Mountford, 55, is a retired lawyer who worked with Sir Alan and later joined the board of Amstrad. She is now doing a PhD in papyrology, the study of ancient literature.

10 SIR Alan's sidekick Nick Hewer, 63, was his long-term PR man but now lives in semi-retirement in rural France. He has a passion for vintage tractors.

11 BOARDROOM receptionist Frances is an actress, not Sir Alan's real secretary. He calls her Frances as that's the name of his real PA.

12 THE £4million house where the candidates stayed is now available to rent. The seven-bedroom property in Notting Hill, West London, is yours for £5,750 a week.

13 THE 16 candidates had to share just one TV while staying in The Apprentice house.

14 FOOTBALL fanatic Tre often hid the TV remote control in his pocket so he could watch Match Of The Day in peace.

15 EACH candidate had their own chaperone to watch their every move inside the house.

16 ALTHOUGH the candidates were told they had to wake up early, none of them were allowed alarm clocks to increase the pressure.

17 DURING the show, three of the house's bathrooms were off limits to contestants. Gerri Blackwood said: "I am not sure whether it was deliberate or not but you can imagine they must have wanted us to share showers."

18 TRE (below) managed to talk Ghazal Asif into cooking his meals each night in the house, while Naomi Lay made his breakfast and Katie Hopkins ironed his shirts.

19 TRE used to call the girls in the house "babydoll" and the men "princess".

20 HE'S been married for seven years, but Tre doesn't wear a wedding ring, feeling it may put off women he's doing business with.

21 WHILE Sir Alan owns the yacht featured in the opening credits, the helicopter isn't his - it is actually chartered from the firm Rotor Motion.

22 THE show's title music is from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.

23 AS a child, Naomi showed her early entrepreneurial skills by charging her parents to remove caterpillars from their gooseberry bushes.

24 TRE'S wife Sam is expecting their second child in August. He wants a little girl to call Princess.

25 DESPITE some critics claiming scenes feel staged, none of the dialogue in the shows is scripted.

26 BEFORE appearing on The Apprentice, internet entrepreneur Simon cropped up in a newspaper article three years ago on the lives of twenty somethings.

He was quoted as saying: "My looks and appearance have helped me everywhere. It means I get into nightclubs, I get into restaurants, I have got jobs and it got me into university."

27 SIMON says he may have cosmetic surgery as he gets older. He says: "I'm also a sucker for expensive clothes including high-end Italian suits."

He explains: "It is partly about vanity, but I think society believes that a man who is well-presented and well-kept is usually organised and disciplined."

28 RORY Laing, who was second cousin to Princess Diana, hopes to start running tourist airship flights over London next year.

29 KATIE used to challenge male contestants to pushup competitions in the house - she won every time.

30 AS well as performing the tasks, the contestants have to ask everyone they deal with for their consent to be shown on TV.

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