The Apprentice and Social Media

17th March 2023

The BBC’s The Apprentice is 18 years old this year and still entertaining us – maybe you were in at the beginning, maybe you’re a more recent convert, or perhaps you’ve never seen it. The first episode saw fourteen young people, hopeful of a job within Lord Sugar’s, or Sir Alan as he was then, empire. Split into two teams, they are sent off to Spitalfields market with £500 in their pocket to buy some fruit and veg, and to bring back a profit. It didn’t go quite as planned.

So what else was going on in 2005? Let’s look at the world of Social Media. LinkedIn had launched in 2003, but other than that, not much was around in the UK, apart from Friends Reunited which had been launched back in 2000. Facebook had only just appeared, and people were starting to use it, first on their computers and then, as the technology allowed, on a mobile device. Skype was already there, but only just, and Bebo (remember that?) and YouTube launched. Twitter was yet to come, as were Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat. So this was early days for Social Media – the iPhone wasn’t even launched, these were the days of the Nokia and the Blackberry.

In 2023, The Apprentice has its own Social Media channels so that we can keep in touch with developments as they happen. 18 years seems a long time, but in some ways little has changed. We’re still watching the same programme on television – we’ve just got more ways to talk about it.

If you’re a fan of The Apprentice, you will know that one of the favourite rounds is when the candidates that are left – usually a shortlist of about four – are interviewed by some of Lord Sugar’s ‘aides’. The interviews can be very uncomfortable – there’s a lot at stake after all. One of the things that the interviewers do it to delve into the candidate’s CV to check if what they say is true. This has led to some rather difficult conversations in the past.

In 2005 there would have been little point looking at Social Media to help with the grilling of the candidates, because there wasn’t much there. Not so now, and perhaps the producers will see fit to include a Social Media Check as part of the assessment process. After all, this is what an increasing number of employers are doing – often at the shortlisting stage. We will find out in due course, but the candidates would have done well to sanitise their channels to make sure that they give a good impression. Something to be considered for next year MGM Television?

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