Since 2005, The Apprentice has been one of Britain’s most beloved reality shows, with millions of viewers each year watching which contestants Lord Sugar will fire and eventually hire.
The premise is simple, with budding businessmen competing in a series of tasks to impress Lord Sugar.
Until season six, the candidates would compete for a job at the billionaire company, but in recent years the prize was changed to a £250,000 investment in their company.
Many of the show’s stars have become household names, while others have become embroiled in various scandals.
Now, with season 17 in full swing and yet another scandal sparked by Reece Donnelly’s mysterious show exit, MailOnline spoke to former Apprentice candidate Thomas Skinner, who revealed exactly what fans aren’t seeing on the show.
What you DID NOT know about The Apprentice: Thomas Skinner revealed the truth behind those early starts, what conversations are ‘forbidden’ and how stars are ‘set up’ by producers
Thomas rose to fame after appearing in series 15 in 2019 and reaching week nine of the process despite being on the losing team almost every week of the series.
His fun-loving attitude, willingness to graft and pithy remarks made him an instant fan favorite and it was clear that Lord Sugar also had a soft spot for the star.
The mattress seller also stepped in to help winner Carina Lepore start her bakery business during the finals.
But in an exclusive conversation with MailOnline, Thomas revealed that it wasn’t all fun and games behind the scenes, with the candidates living in isolation and not allowed to contact their friends and loved ones.
The filming process for The Apprentice can take up to three months, with Thomas revealing that while the tasks are condensed into hour-long episodes, it would actually take three days to film each episode.
He explained, “It looks easy when you watch it on TV, but it’s really hard when you’re there.
You don’t have a phone, you don’t have the internet. You can’t start calling your family or friends, so you’re kind of stuck.
“You can’t ask for advice, so everything you do is impulsive.”
Boss: Since 2005, The Apprentice has been one of Britain’s best-loved reality shows, with millions of viewers watching each year to see which contestants Lord Sugar will fire and eventually hire
Thomas rose to fame after appearing in series 15 in 2019 and continued through week nine of the trial before the show was won by Carina Lepore (center)
He also revealed that producers often make suggestions to the contestants off-camera, explaining, “They sort of tricked you into making you look a little crazy.”
“They should make a TV show, it should be entertaining,” he reasoned.
The contestants are also not allowed to discuss the task when they get back home, saving the juicy conversations for when the cameras are rolling and they can’t predict which team won the task.
“You just have to keep going!” Thomas explained, but he insisted that the producers provided adequate aftercare.
“It was fine,” he revealed. “I’m used to grafting and getting on with it, so I was totally fine, but everyone was taken care of.”
One way the producers keep contestants on good behavior is by banning alcohol during the process.
Earlier this month, it emerged that candidate Reece Donnelly had been suspended from the show after drinking alcohol on a flight to Dubai during a task, leaving Lord Sugar furious.
Thomas confirmed that producers enforced a strict liquor ban during filming, explaining, “I can’t comment on what happened to Reece, but we were absolutely not allowed to drink alcohol when we filmed my series.”
Abolished: Earlier this month it emerged that Reece Donnelly had been suspended from the show after drinking alcohol and Thomas confirmed that producers had enforced a strict liquor ban
When it comes to tasks, the candidates are warned of the days they will be required to film, but one question viewers often ask is how they manage to finish so quickly.
In each episode, we see the candidates being woken up in the early hours by a phone call telling them to be ready to leave the house in 20 minutes.
Still, Thomas revealed that they are warned the day before what time the phone will ring, giving the candidates a head start.
He explained, “Everyone gets up a little earlier to get ready, then jumps back into bed and pretends to be asleep when the phone rings!
“All the girls have a face full of makeup under the covers!”
While only one person can walk away with Lord Sugar’s investment – aside from the shock double win in 2017 – Thomas said he still keeps in touch with a few candidates after the show and is seen as a mentor to many of the former stars of the show.
“He’s a nice fellow!” Thomas said. “I have his number that we chat from time to time.
“I asked him for some advice and I sold him all sorts of things!”
Bosh: Since appearing on the show, Thomas has appeared on shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats and Celebrity MasterChef
Thomas, owner of Bosh Beds in Essex, credited the show with putting his business on the map ‘nationwide’ and revealed his best advice for prospective contestants to just ‘be yourself’.
He explained, “You just have to be confident and try to do things that you’re not good at. Like I have dyslexia, but you just have to do your best and learn to do what you can.
“Just have fun, because it’s a great opportunity. Even if you don’t win and you get fired from the trial, you’ll still do well, so just be yourself and enjoy it.”
He has used his positive attitude while working on his business during a time of financial uncertainty and a crisis in the cost of living.
“Everyone should remember that hard times don’t last and go on,” he reasoned.
Since appearing on the show, Thomas has appeared on shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats and Celebrity MasterChef and is being tipped to appear in the next series of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!
The businessman has also amassed a large number of Twitter followers left behind by his large and unusual breakfasts at Dino’s Cafe in New Spitalfields Market.
Among his unusual early morning feasts were a shepherd’s pie, carbonara and a full Christmas dinner.
Yum: The businessman has amassed a large Twitter following left behind by his large and unusual breakfasts at Dino’s Cafe in New Spitalfields Market
Discussing the sudden hype around his unusual morning snacks, he revealed that it went viral by chance after a friend filmed him eating a steak and kidney pie at 5am and shared it online.
He explained, “I get up really early in the morning and always want a decent breakfast but they made my mate laugh so he filmed it one day and I must have had about 100 messages from followers thanking me for sharing it.
“They said it helped them wake up in the morning and put them in a good mood and if they make just one person happy then I’m happy, so I kept doing them.”
“Every day I post them and if I don’t I get messages from people saying they had a bad day because I didn’t post a video!”