Why Alan Sugar's Apprentice contestants are £150,000 out of pocket

Why Alan Sugar’s Apprentice contestants are £150,000 out of pocket… despite a £250,000 prize up for grabs on the hit TV show

Contestants on hit TV show The Apprentice are billed as Britain’s brightest business minds, but they appear to be lacking one key skill – a sound grasp of economics.  

The £250,000 prize for the hit show’s winner was set a decade ago. But due to rampant inflation, the value of the pot has plummeted in real terms since then.

Inflation is currently rising at more than 10 per cent as the price of everything from fuel to food has soared. If Lord Sugar had increased the prize in line with inflation, this season’s winner would receive almost £400,000 [£395,346]. 

Despite their claims to business acumen, the contestants don’t seem to have spotted that they are missing out on £150,000 because Lord Sugar has frozen the prize money. 

Boardroom: Lord Sugar with last year’s winner of the Apprentice, Harpreet Kaur

Mark Dixon, founder of the Fair Market Economy think tank said: ‘If I were on the Apprentice, I would tell Lord Sugar “You’re fired!”‘

A prize that isn’t index-linked to inflation becomes smaller every year, especially in these times, and will therefore logically attract progressively less smart entrepreneurs. Sugar needs to sweeten the prize.’ 

American entrepreneur Amy Anzel, who made it halfway through last year’s series, said the amount of money is now ‘so lame’.

 ‘He and the BBC should have decided to address that,’ the beauty brand owner said.

‘I absolutely think the investment amount should be much more. If you are starting a business, £250,000 is nice. But how far will it really take you these days?’ 

Economics: The £250,000 prize for the hit show’s winner was set a decade ago. But due to rampant inflation, the value of the pot has plummeted in real terms since then

Last year’s runner-up Kathryn Burn, who owns Pyjamily, said: ‘They definitely need to bump that up.’ 

She said: ‘I noticed that last year when I was on it. I was thinking it is about time they bumped it up to about £500,000 isn’t it?’

Lord Sugar last increased the prize – which is now a quarter of a million pounds as an investment in the winner’s business – way back in 2011. 

Before that, the tycoon offered the winner a £100,000 a year job. Hargreaves Lansdown business analyst Susannah Streeter said winning apprentices had ‘missed a trick’ by failing to point out the falling value of the prize pot, but added that the gruff peer would have given them short shrift if they had dared to confront him. 

But she added: ‘Such is the demand to go on the show, gain public attention for their fledgling businesses and potentially win financial backing, they know they’d have been met with short shrift if they’d made a stand before filming got underway. 

‘It’s not the cash prize itself, but the mentoring and exposure on prime time TV and social media which is the real pot of gold for wannabe winners.’ 

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