The BBC has announced that Sir Alan Sugar is to put a group of 10 teenagers through their paces in a youth version of The Apprentice. The Junior Apprentice will feature five girls and five boys aged 16 and 17, who will be set a variety of business tasks to test their entrepreneurial skills.
The five part series will follow the same format as the original show, although some adjustments will be made to take in to account the age of those taking part. As with the main series, the losing team will end up in the boardroom and the project manager will have to choose two people to join them in the firing line. With the show only running for 5 weeks it is expected that more than 1 person will be fired each week.
However, the winner will not claim a job with Sugar, instead being given a prize tailored to their individual career prospects up to the value of £25,000.
Sir Alan has long held an ambition to launch a young version of the hit reality show, telling the BBC News website last year: "I believe it would be an absolute one-off blockbuster.
The entrepreneur left school at the age of 16 with no qualifications and started selling car aerials and electrical goods out of a van he bought for £100. In 1968, he founded the electronics firm Amstrad, and now, more than 40 years later, he is a multimillionaire, ranked 59th in the 2009 Sunday Times Rich List. He is also currently fronting a government campaign promoting the benefits of apprenticeships.
"It is my long-held belief that we should be doing more to promote enterprise among young people, as the future of our economy relies on them," Sugar said.
"I passionately believe that the key to business success lies in hard work and common sense and that we should encourage our young people as much as possible. Understandably, the contestants won't have any previous business experience, but all I want to see from them is an entrepreneurial aptitude and an enthusiasm to succeed," he added.
Candidates from all social backgrounds are being encouraged to apply - whether they are straight A students, from grammar or public school or have no academic qualifications.
"Understandably, the contestants won't have any previous business experience, but all I want to see from them is an entrepreneurial aptitude and an enthusiasm to succeed," said Sir Alan, who left school at 16 with no qualifications.
Anyone wishing to take part should apply at www.bbc.co.uk/apprentice. Junior Apprentice is expected to get a peak-time slot on BBC1, although scheduling details have not yet been confirmed. The five-part series will be shown on BBC One next year.
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017