The Apprentice star Claude Littner reveals this ridiculous mistake happens during tonight’s first task!

Claude says one of the candidates manages to mix up an elephant with a rhino in the first task tonight. D'oh!

The wheelie cases are packed, CVs submitted, and trite phrases and self-important personal statements rehearsed. It can only mean one thing… The Apprentice is back for a new series tonight on BBC1 at 9pm!

This evening (check our TV Guide for listings), Lord Alan Sugar starts his search for a budding entrepreneur worthy of his £250,000 investment. But before anyone is hired, the new batch of candidates must attempt to outdo each other in a series of make-or-break tasks – and avoid being fired in the process.

Keeping a close eye on proceedings are Lord Sugar’s closest confidants, Baroness Karren Brady and Claude Littner.

Here successful British-American businessman Claude Littner, 70, shares insider tales from the new 12-part series of The Apprentice…

Are you as excited as us for the new series to begin?

Claude Littner: “I’m very keen to watch it. Obviously I know what happens, but it’s still a joy to watch. The editing is genius. The way they take thousands of hours of film and manage to encapsulate the characters and the key points in every single task is wonderful. All credit to everyone involved, they don’t miss a trick.”

The series is filmed in just three months. Is the atmosphere behind-the-scenes as fraught as in front of the cameras?

CL: “It’s stressful and time-consuming, but we actually have a laugh, which is really welcome. We have a returning crew, and Karren and I have become good friends with them. There’s obviously tension within the candidates but not in the production area. It’s always fun!”

How do you and Karren always appear so unruffled and calm?

CL: “It’s just exhaustion really! After weeks of getting up at 4am and home at 11pm everyone’s pretty much exhausted at the end of the series. The idea is not to show the strain. I always think week one and two are a breeze, but by week three I’d love a lie in. The 4am starts are worse for Karren because she has to get up even earlier to do her hair. Fortunately I don’t have that problem!”

What can you tell us about tonight’s task on The Apprentice?

CL: “We start off with the most unbelievable task in South Africa. My group has to organise a vineyard tour, which includes a trip to a wine cellar, but they couldn’t find it. We have the farce of the candidates wandering backwards and forwards trying to find the cellar, with all the people who’d paid for the tour wandering around with them. Typically a wine cellar is downstairs, but it didn’t dawn on the candidates.”

Did Karren’s group fare any better?

CL: “Karren’s group has to organise a safari tour. One of the candidates points out an elephant… except it’s a rhino!

L - R Baroness Karren Brady, Lord Alan Sugar and Claude Littner in the boradroom

Fired up! There’s nothing boring about The Apprentice boardroom show downs. L – R Baroness Karren Brady, Lord Alan Sugar and Claude Littner

Do you ever find the tasks taxing?

CL: “I look forward to every single one, to be honest. It’s exciting to see a different mix of candidates navigate their way though each task. You see the same mistakes year after year but sometimes I’m amazed at how clever some of them are.”

Are there any tasks you think you’d struggle with?

CL: “In the task where they have to find nine items, sometime I haven’t got a clue and know if I was doing it, I’d fail. By the same token it can be very challenging when candidates miss opportunities and I can see they’ve made a big mistake. But there’s nothing I can do about it. Those kinds of things are frustrating at the time but when you look back on them they’re very funny.”

Do you have a favourite round?

CL: “For me the best task is the interview. That’s the one time I’m really one-to-one with the candidates. It’s the business end of The Apprentice and shows the true colour of the candidates. We want to make sure Alan has all the information he needs to make his decision. This year is going to be superb. The content and the candidates are very, very watchable.”

Series 15 of The Apprentice kicks off on Wednesday 02 October at 9pm on BBC1.