What does it do?

No explanation needed here, unless you're a visitor from Saturn (although a branch is expected there soon). A recent study showed that more children recognise the McDonald's logo than know their own name. The first one opened in 1955 in Des Plaines, Illinois. Half a century on, there are 30,000 restaurants worldwide in 119 countries, 70 per cent of them owned and run by independent franchisees. The British palate was first treated to a Big Mac in 1974, when a restaurant in Woolwich flung open its doors.

Despite the rampant commercial success, the business has, of course, had its critics, chiefly over the health implications of eating too many McDonald's meals. In 2004, the success of Morgan Spurlock's documentary film Super Size Me brought home to millions the damaging effects of a McDonald's-only diet. Soon after, the company started including many more healthy options on its menus, although from company literature you'd never guess, of course, that the two events were linked.

Vital statistics:

There are 67,000 McDonald's employees in the UK, serving around 2.5 million customers every day: a mere fraction of the 46 million people worldwide who have a meal beneath those golden arches.

The office:

The UK head office is situated in north London, and there are 1,250 McDonald's restaurants nationwide.

Is this you?

Every year, up to 100 graduates are recruited on to the business (restaurant) manager training programme. Any degree will do, but you must have had some part-time work experience.

The recruitment process:

Online applications, at www.mcdonalds.co.uk/careers, are screened for evidence of team-working skills and an understanding of customer service. This is followed by an online personality questionnaire, a one-day group assessment based in a restaurant, and, for those still in the frame, a final interview. Graduate recruits undergo an intensive 19-week training scheme. This covers preparing food, mastering the equipment, developing customer- service abilities and learning how to motivate and lead a team. A range of commercial skills are learnt, including finance, marketing and human resources. McDonald's say the training helps people to build the foundations for a long-term career in management.

Top dollar?

Trainees start on between £18,500 and £21,500. There's a bonus scheme, linked to how restaurants are doing, and other frills, including private healthcare and life-assurance cover.

Beam me up, Scotty?

The aim is for graduates to work towards managing their own restaurant, a role that pays between £25,000 and £40,000, and comes with a company car or cash.

Who's the boss?

Peter Beresford, a Canadian, is chairman and CEO in the UK. He joined McDonald's in 1976 as an advertising manager, and went on to help open the first McRestaurant in Russia.

Little known fact:

Ever wondered what happens to all those yellow fields of rapeseed you see in summer? McDonald's uses 10,000 tonnes of rapeseed oil every year for its fries.