The Apprentice star Claude Littner disagrees with Lord Sugar’s choice of 2024 winner

BBC show’s former aide shared his honest view after finale aired

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 19 April 2024 09:33 BST
Lord Sugar fires Apprentice candidate who refuses his business proposal

The latest series of The Apprentice has come to an end, with Lord Sugar picking his next business partner – but his former aide Claude Littner disagrees with his decision.

On Thursday (18 April), the 18th series of the BBC reality show drew to a close after a tense penultimate episode that saw one candidate essentially reject a place in the final.

*Spoilers follow – you have been warned*

The finale pitted piemaker Phil Turner, 37, against gym owner Rachel Woolford, 28, with Sugar ultimately deciding to start a professional collaboration with Woolford.

Sugar’s decision saw Woolford become the fifth woman in a row to win Sugar’s £250,000 investment, and the second year running Sugar has invested in a fitness business, after going into business with boxer Marnie Swindells in 2023.

One person who does not think Sugar made the right choice, though, is Littner, who used to appear alongside the tycoon and Baroness Karren Brady in the boardroom until he was forced to step down due to an injury.

Littner met both Woolford and Turner for the interview stage of the process, where he put them both through their paces after placing the microscope on their business plans.

After the finale aired, and Woolford had been named this year’s winner, one viewer wrote to Littner on X/Twitter: “I think I would have picked Phil the pie maker.”

Littner responded: “Me too. If I could get comfortable with his management style and ambition to grow the business. I would have pushed Phil to get concessions in leading retail stores.”

The show’s former aide also replied “Me too!” when a fan said they were “disappointed” by Sugar’s decision, but he acknowledged “flaws were exposed” in Turner’s business proposal during the interviews.

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‘The Apprentice’ finalist Phil Turner
‘The Apprentice’ finalist Phil Turner (BBC)

His comments hint at what appeared to be a sticking point for Sugar when it came to Turner.

During the final boardroom showdown, when Sugar urged Turner to ditch a proposed delivery service in favour of opening more stores, Turner told the tycoon: “I do really appreciate your perspective on that, and I take your sentiment about profits, but for me, there’s more to running a business than making profits.”

Sugar was unimpressed by this comment, replying: “Not really. Sorry, Phil, that is a dangerous statement. Let’s cut the c*** – we’re in business to make money. Well, I am anyway, and if you’re not in business to make money, you’re going to be no good for me, that’s for sure.”

Littner, writing on social media, called Turner’s comment “a shocking faux pas”.

However, Turner eventually appeared to renege, telling Sugar he was “absolutely willing to listen” to him if he chose him to be his business partner. But it was too late for Turner, with Sugar stating: “It’s very, very hard for me. I’m having trouble here, but my gut feeling is telling me that Rachel, you’re gonna be my business partner.”

‘The Apprentice’ winner Rachel Woolford
‘The Apprentice’ winner Rachel Woolford (BBC)

Woolford told Sugar: “I absolutely won’t let you down.”

The Apprentice will return to BBC One in 2025.

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