In case the 60-part series I did on the best of pre-COVID Apprentice did not make it obvious, I love the original British iteration of The Apprentice. Over the course of 16 series, Lord Sugar has fired over 200 candidates, and most of the time they were fair and understandable. However, here were some occasions when the wrong person was fired and below are what I consider to be the Top 10 examples of such firings, albeit in chronological order of when they aired, just to make things easier. And it is worth noting that this list will not include finalists.
1) Adenike Ogundoyin (Series 1, Task 1)
The British iteration kicked off with a wrongful firing, and in Lord Sugar’s defence he did admit with hindsight that it was a wrong call on his part. After the first task, Adenike was fired for being argumentative and insubordinate towards PM Saira. I believe (and Lord Sugar has said with hindsight) that Miranda should have been fired instead. Adenike was an insubordinate thorn in Saira’s side, but Miranda also had a bad attitude towards their PM and – even worse – she panic-sold a lot of stock at a noticeable loss, despite the fact that the team still had at least 6 hours of selling time ahead of them, and then even continued to try to justify her actions in the boardroom. That was far more reason to fire her than Adenike, and Lord Sugar would go on to fire Miranda for insubordination two tasks later.
2) Ben Stanberry (Series 2, Task 1)
Losing PM Ben was by no means a strong leader and did not adapt quickly to market selling, but he had the guts to be PM on the first task (for which credit should always be given), plus under his leadership the men’s team still made a decent profit. Granted it was not as good as the women’s (hence their loss), but it was still a good return on investment, particularly for a first task. Samuel should ultimately have been fired from the men’s team for his failure to sell and his conscious decision to take a back seat by doing the stock management side of things – and Lord Sugar came very close to firing him, but he did put up a good boardroom defence in all fairness. Good boardroom defence or not, Samuel may not have been a natural salesman, but he should still have been willing to try to push himself outside of his comfort zone, as Ben had been. And willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone is something which Lord Sugar looks for in an Apprentice winner, hence he should have kept Ben.
3) Shazia Wahab (Series 4, Task 2)
One of the reasons why the women suffered a thumping loss in the laundry task is that they lost some of the customers’ laundry. Shazia had set up a good system at the laundrette to keep all of each customer’s items together and explained it to her teammates before PM Jenny sent her off to make a start on the ironing. However, once Shazia was gone the laundry got into a disarray under Jenny’s disorganised leadership, and in the final boardroom the scheming Jenny claimed that Shazia had just walked away and left them high and dry. Now Shazia tried to bring organisation to chaos and explained a system that Jenny should have followed, so really Jenny was culpable – plus she had made multiple other major errors that had contributed to the loss. Furthermore, Jenny had also bullied Lucinda during the task, which alone should have guaranteed her firing, regardless of whether she had made other errors.
4) Liz Locke (Series 6, Task 10)
This task had been Liz’s fourth consecutive loss, although she had by far performed the best on her team in this one. She had come up with good ideas and easily had the highest sales figures. Furthermore, she had overall performed better over the course of the process than PM Stuart, whose poor decisions on this task had been the key factor in the team’s loss. Based on this task, Stuart deserved to be fired. Based on overall track record, Stuart deserved to be fired. So why did he stay? Because he made a passionate boardroom defence and told Lord Sugar about his impressive credentials, and Liz did a far worse job of defending herself. During the semi-final interviews, however, it became clear that Stuart had lied on his CV and throughout the process about his credentials, and Lord Sugar was left enraged that he had fired Liz – whom he considered a contender – based on said lies.
5) Azhar Siddique (Series 8, Task 7)
Azhar was an irritant on this task, there is no denying that and he had been an irritant on other tasks. However, he irritated PM Jade by making valid points about the strategy or lack thereof that exposed her shortcomings on the smell what sells task. Jade had no strategy, hence she could not answer Azhar’s questions about it. Had she had one then she could have answered him and he would have had no reason to continue pestering her, plus it would have greatly increased the team’s chances of winning. Jade was primarily responsible for the loss and dug herself an even deeper hole in the final boardroom when she admitted that she had been wrong to bring Tom back over Laura, which visibly frustrated Lord Sugar. Yes, Azhar could irritate people and that was reason enough for Lord Sugar to be concerned, but it was not reason enough to fire him over Jade.
6) Myles Mordaunt (Series 9, Task 10)
On this task, PM Myles made some obvious errors which contributed to the team’s loss. However, his errors were not as bad as Jordan’s, as the latter did a dreadful and very costly job of reinvesting in stock for the smell what sells task, that left Lord Sugar visibly appalled. Whilst Myles mistakes were reason enough why his firing would have been understandable, when Lord Sugar quizzed the team members about their business plans something became apparent that should have led to Myles being spared. It became apparent that Jordan’s business plan would involve another partner and that – if he won – Lord Sugar would be expected to then negotiate shares with Jordan and the other partner. A big no-no – the deal was made clear from the offset that it would be a 50:50 partnership. Lord Sugar fired Myles over his mistakes on the task, but later went on to admit that with hindsight he should have fired Jordan over that shock revelation, particularly as – in the semi-final interviews – it became clear that Jordan was only willing to offer Lord Sugar a 15% share in the business and that he was offering him a share in a business for which Jordan owned zero shares whatsoever, which memorably led to Claude Littner labelling him “a parasite.”
7) David Stevenson (Series 11, Task 8)
On an event-planning task, PM Gary led his team to a defeat – a loss which should have led to his elimination as he showed that events were not his forte, despite the fact that his business plan was an events company. The loss raised concerns for Lord Sugar, but really it should have guaranteed Gary’s firing, especially as he made some big mistakes (not least due to poor communication with the sub-team) that led to the client wanting a partial refund. David had been a solid contender throughout the process, but he did make a mistake on this task that cost the team £100 of profit. However, Gary’s mistakes had been far more costly than David’s, so even if David had not cost the team £100 they would have still lost. Hence David really did not deserve to be fired over the loss of this task.
8) Kayode Damali (Series 14, Task 7)
When PM Tom led his team to a whopping loss on a gardening task, which was closely related to his industry and his business plan, he really went after Kayode in the boardroom over the mistakes that Kayode had made when pricing a commercial job. This was Tom’s second loss as PM and the fact that he had lost so miserably on a task that was closely related to both his existing business and his business plan should have been reason enough for Lord Sugar to fire him without hesitation, especially as Tom admitted that one of his mistakes had led to a loss of £1,600. Furthermore, Kayode had a far better track record in the process, which he used in his defence in the final boardroom. That was not enough to save him though, as his mistake on the task raised questions over his adaptability, but he should have been spared and given the chance to show whether he could learn from his mistakes, whereas Tom’s firing was definitely due at this point.
9) Jemelin Artigas (Series 15, Task 7)
When marketing Finland as a summer holiday destination, Empower decided to target the LGBTQ+ market and made a right mess of it. Jemelin’s commercial was more of a spa advert and had no cohesion with the rest of the campaign – thanks not least to poor decisions by and communication from PM Marianne. In the final boardroom, however, Ryan-Mark was called out once again for a lack of positive contributions and an insubordinate attitude. Jemelin may have made mistakes, but she at least had tried her best and also had a better track record than Ryan-Mark. As such, he should have been fired – not least because such recurring concerns about him should have guaranteed his dismissal.
10) Stephanie Affleck (Series 16, Semi-final)
During the semi-final interviews stage, it became apparent that Stephanie’s business plan was not up Lord Sugar’s alley – small profit margins and some other flaws which showed that more research was needed. However, after Harpreet had been put through to the final for having the strongest business plan, Stephanie was fired instead of Kathryn – whose business plan had far more flaws to it. Stephanie’s plan showed that there would be small profit margins, but at least there were profit margins. On the other hand, Kathryn’s ambitious business plan projected making a loss of nearly £600,000 during the first two years. Plus it was full of oxymorons (such as saying that it would have a low carbon footprint but also rely a lot on having things imported from China) and with Kathryn not having any design skills she could not even offer a USP for her pyjama business in the way that Series 14 winner Sian had been able to with her swimwear business. Stephanie had a marginally better track record in the process, and although her business plan may not have been Lord Sugar’s cup of tea, I simply cannot get my head around the fact that he fired her in favour of somebody whose plan had no USP and would make such an enormous loss in the first two years.