The Apprentice has 9m viewers, says Nick Hewer, because viewers sit there thinking ‘I can do better than that’ and have a “good old sneer at the contestants”.
But while they are chosen by the BBC for their abrasive personalities, some were brilliant at very tough tasks, he added.
He added: “One lot had to invent a breakfast cereal, design the box, a character, catchphrase and a jingle and present it to an ad agency – in two days.
“Those hapless characters prompt the bloke at home sat on the sofa to say ‘I can do better than that’, that’s why we think it works so beautifully.”
But they weren’t all clowns, several winning contestants today have businesses that make money, he added.
Nick Hewer, who was guest speaker at the City Region Business Awards, told guests at the black tie event that filming the show was gruelling – every day ended with a grilling from Sir Alan Sugar.
“We are putting in 14- hour days because he wants a briefing in the evening, he wants to know everything so he can go into the boadroom knowing everything.
“No one knows who he is going to fire. But I know the moment is going to come because he starts to pant.
“They are good kids, some of them have done really well, but the boadroom is a place of terror.”
All contestants were told to pack their belongings in a suitcase in case they were fired and had to leave the show – but a few were so confident they didn’t pack a thing, he revealed.
Nick, whose PR firm represented Lord Sugar’s company Amstrad, said the launch of its affordable PC in the 1980s doubledits share price overnight.
“Within two years it had 36 per cent of the European market.
Later, another opportunity arose when Rupert Murdoch rang to ask if he could supply 100,000 satellite dishes ahead of the launch of Sky.
Nick Hewer said: “At that time the only satellite dishes were on embassies, but Alan Sugar spoke to the people who make dustbin lids and when they proved too expensive he spoke to a hubcap company called Concentric.
“The dish I got in 1989 has only just fallen off the wall.”