The Apprentice (British series 4)

Series four of The Apprentice (UK), a British reality television series, was broadcast in the UK during 2008, from 26 March to 11 June on BBC One.[1] Around over 20,000 applications were made by potential participants seeking to take part on the programme,[2] with the fourth series being the only one to date to feature more than two finalists moving on beyond the Interviews stage. Alongside the standard twelve episodes, four specials were aired alongside the series – "The Worst Decisions Ever" on 3 April; "Motor Mouths" on 18 April; "The Final Five" on 2 June; and "Why I Fired Them" on 8 June.

The Apprentice (British series 4)
Promo group shot of Alan Sugar standing amongst the candidates for series 4
Country of originUK
No. of episodes16
Original networkBBC One
Original release26 March (2008-03-26) 
11 June 2008 (2008-06-11)
Series chronology

Sixteen candidates took part in the fourth series,[3] with Lee McQueen becoming the overall winner. Excluding the specials, the series averaged around 7.29 million viewers during its broadcast.

Series overview

Applications were made available in late Spring/early Summer 2007, towards the end of the third series' broadcast. The number received by production staff reached a high of around 20,000,[2] leading to auditions and interviews being conducted regionally across London, Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol during the first two weeks of July, in order to assess each potential participant and narrow down the final line-up for the fourth series. Once the sixteen candidates for this series were finalised, filming of episodes took place between September and October. Although no major changes were made to the programme's format, the fourth series saw the introduction of another of Alan Sugar's closest business associate, Karren Brady, as a fourth member of the interviewing panel, prior to her eventual role after the following series.

For the first task, the men named their team Renaissance, while the women named their team Alpha. This series is notably significant for being the only one to date to feature more than two finalists after the Interviews stage, due to Sugar finding it difficult to determine which two to send through to the final, ultimately firing one candidate in the penultimate stage – although the seventh and eighth series also featured more than two finalists, the final task was the Interviews stage in both. The series also is significant for the creation of two records for teams that had the most wins and most losses respectively. Of those who took part, Lee McQueen would become the eventual winner of the series, going on to work initially for Sugar's company AMSHOLD,[4] and then for AMSCREEN as development director, under the employment of Sugar's son Simon Sugar. He would eventually leave his employment in 2010,[5] before leaving his employment to found his own recruitment agency.[6]


Candidate Background Age Result
Lee McQueen Recruitment Sales Manager 30 Winner
Claire Young Senior Retail Buyer 29 Runner-up
Helene Speight Global Pricing Leader 32 Fired in the Final
Alex Wotherspoon Regional Sales Manager 24
Lucinda Ledgerwood Risk Manager 31 Fired after Interviews stage
Michael Sophocles Telesales Executive 24 Fired after tenth task
Raef Bjayou Entrepreneur 27 Fired after ninth task
Sara Dhada International Car Trader 25 Fired after eighth task
Jennifer Maguire Marketing Consultant 27 Fired after seventh task
Jenny Celerier Sales Manager 36
Kevin Shaw Bank Manager 24 Fired after sixth task
Lindi Mngaza Business Liaison Manager 22 Fired after fifth task
Simon Smith Senior Satellite Television Engineer 35 Fired after fourth task
Ian Stringer Software Sales Manager 26 Fired after third task
Shazia Wahab Mosaic Artist and Company Director 35 Fired after second task
Nicholas de Lacy-Brown Trainee Barrister, Artist and Property Developer 24 Fired after first week

Performance chart

Candidate Task Number
Nicholas FIRED


     The candidate won this series of The Apprentice.
     The candidate was the runner-up.
     The candidate won as project manager on his/her team, for this task.
     The candidate lost as project manager on his/her team, for this task.
     The candidate was on the winning team for this task / they passed the Interviews stage.
     The candidate was on the losing team for this task.
     The candidate was brought to the final boardroom for this task.
     The candidate was fired in this task.
     The candidate lost as project manager for this task and was fired.


No. in
TitleOriginal air dateUK viewers
411"Fishy Business"[8]26 March 2008 (2008-03-26)6.73
Sir Alan begins a new search for his next apprentice for 2008 amongst sixteen new candidates. Their first task sees each team selling around £600 of seafood at markets across London, where profit will be determined from identifying the more valuable stock. The women manage large orders of sales and perform efficiently on the task, despite struggling to identify and price their stock. The men struggle with making sales due to a delayed start, some stock being incorrectly priced, and problematic sellers reducing prices further. In the boardroom, the women secure victory with their performance, leaving the men arguing over their team's sales strategy before focusing on who was culpable for the loss. Of the final three, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown becomes the first to be fired for his weak arguments and his mistakes with pricing the team's stock.
422"A Dirty Job"[9]2 April 2008 (2008-04-02)6.73
In their next task, teams find themselves operating a laundry service, each seeking out customers across London and ensuring their work is satisfactory to achieve a high profit. Renaissance focus on a strategy that secures plenty of work from large companies and door-to-door, while managing an efficient operation that ensures their laundry is completed on time and to a high degree of satisfaction from customers. Alpha focus on targeting businesses for custom but secure less work, while facing issues from problematic members and a delayed start, effectively leaving customers less than satisfied with their work and losing some items of clothing in the process. In the boardroom, the men secure victory with their performance, while the women clash during discussions on their loss. In the end, Sir Alan fires Shazia Wahab for contributing to her team's failure on the task with the mistakes that she made.
43SP–1"The Worst Decisions Ever"[10]3 April 2008 (2008-04-03)2.07
In a special episode, former candidates from the past three series and celebrity fans look back over some of the worst decisions made within the tasks that Sir Alan set out in his search for an apprentice.
443"Cooking with Gas"[11]9 April 2008 (2008-04-09)7.32
Pub cuisine is the basis for the next task, as each team host a themed food day at an establishment that has never offered meals before. Renaissance opt for an Italian theme with the meals they create, managing good sales and service, yet face issues from sourcing the ingredients they require for their creations and lacking proper cost control on the task. Alpha opt for a Bollywood theme, managing a good income due to a focused sales tactic and keeping costs low, despite not being able to make any lunch-time sales. A review of expenditure against income soon reveal that Renaissance mismanaged their performance, compared to the Alpha's more controlled effort. Amongst the final three, Ian Stringer finds himself dismissed from the process over his inadequate leadership and lack of strategy on the task, alongside his failure to admit to his mistakes.
454"Photo Finish"[12]16 April 2008 (2008-04-16)7.43
Teams find themselves in charge of a running a photography business, where each must maintain careful management of the operation to ensure the finished product is value for money for their customers. Alpha focus on enticing customers with being photographed with a celebrity look-a-like, managing to complete a majority of their orders despite issues from a problematic leader, communication problems between the shop floor and photo studio, and poor allocation of members who lacked technical skills. Renaissance focus on photos with a "glamour and beauty" theme, yet complete less orders due to problematic communication amongst the team, and clashes with a difficult leader. The damage from these mistakes leave Renaissance losing out to Alpha's sales total. Amongst the losing team, Simon Smith finds himself fired over his failure to be a strong leader and for being the major contributor to the team's problems.
46SP–2"Motor Mouths"[13]18 April 2008 (2008-04-18)1.73
In a special episode, former candidates and celebrity fans look back upon those candidates who failed to impress Sir Alan across the past three series.
475"Mid-Series Sales"[14]23 April 2008 (2008-04-23)7.85
Sir Alan tasks the candidate to help specialist farms that make ice cream, with each team having to create new flavours and then find markets for these around London. Alpha devise flavours involving avocados and toffee apples, managing reasonable orders, but are compromised by problematic members wasting time and violating one of the task's rules with a deal they make, which is later disallowed. Renaissance devise flavours involving berries and cider, securing a last-minute order for a large volume, despite conducting market research without a focus group and struggling to secure sales with other possible customers. The tally of orders soon reveals Renaissance had luck to secure victory, with Alpha facing scrutiny over the mistakes that were made, with members questioning the deal that contributed to their loss. Of the final three, Lindi Mngaza is fired over arranging the disallowed deal, alongside her negative attitude towards the criticism of her performance.
486"Yours Truly, Angry Mob"[15]30 April 2008 (2008-04-30)7.28
Each team faces the challenge of making a new range of greeting cards, looking for a new market to have yet been tapped, pitching their concept to retailers. Alpha opt for a design tailored towards single people as an alternative to Valentine's Day, making a considerable number of orders despite two retailers criticising an aspect of their concept. Renaissance are forced towards a design with an environmental theme, securing less orders due to questions being raised over the concept's theme and the aggressive pitching by one member. Alpha win the task when their design is deemed the more successful in securing orders, leaving Renaissance to argue amongst themselves over the faulty pitching and card design. Of the final three, Kevin Shaw is fired over his arrogant attitude and his poor decisions as leader.
497"Marrakesh"[16]7 May 2008 (2008-05-07)7.17
Sent abroad to Marrakesh, each team is given a new list of ten items that Sir Alan wants, where negotiating each purchase to secure low price bargains is key to victory. Alpha focus on sourcing items before seeking out bargains, managing to acquire all of them with reasonable negotiations made on most. Renaissance manage to secure most of the items, as some purchases are disallowed for not matching the list's specifications, yet the team's performance is dogged by disorganisation and bad negotiations, while two members attempt to sabotage Alpha's efforts during the task. Brought back to the boardroom over their loss, Renaissance descend into a heated argument over who to blame for their loss. Sir Alan soon determines from their responses that two candidates are firmly at fault for their dismal performance – Jenny Celerier is fired for her negative behaviour towards other candidates and her actions during the task, with Jennifer Maguire joining her for her disorganised leadership and the mistakes she made.
508"Wedding Hell"[17]14 May 2008 (2008-05-14)7.11
Each teams find themselves choosing wedding dresses and accessories, and selling their selection to visitors at the National Exhibition Centre. Alpha opt for high-end dress and lingerie, making good sales from their choices despite struggling initially during the beginning stages of the task. Renaissance focus on mid-range dresses and cakes, managing to sell a good number of their dresses owing to a strong seller, but failed to sell any of their chosen accessories due to problematic salespeople using aggressive sales techniques. Alpha soon secure victory after their sales figures are found to be greater than those of Renaissance, despite issues raised on their choice of dresses. Amongst the losing team, while some members are criticised over their contributions on the task, Sara Dhada is dismissed by Sir Alan for her aggressive salesmanship and failure to sell accessories, not listening to others, and her poor contributions on tasks.
519"Tissues"[18]21 May 2008 (2008-05-21)5.73
Left with a blank box of tissues, each team find themselves tasked by Sir Alan to create a new tissue brand, complete with advertising campaign, and pitch their concept to industry experts. Alpha devise a clever brand name and product-focused campaign that is well received by experts for being attention grabbing and providing a clear marketing message, yet face criticism over their box's design and their TV advert. Renaissance devise a simplistic brand name with a box design that is praised for its appearance, yet face criticism over the choice of name and the poor TV advert they produce. With the feedback from the experts, Alpha's concept is deemed the most effective, leaving Renaissance to face questions over the poor creation they offered. Amongst the final three, Raef Bjayou finds himself ejected from the process after demonstrating a lack of focus on the task's critical aspect and for raising questions over his overall performance by this stage of the process.
5210"Re-inventing the Wheel"[19]27 May 2008 (2008-05-27)6.84
Teams find themselves demonstrating their sales skill, as each face the challenge of renting out two high-value cars, from a selection of six, to customers who have a desire get behind the wheel of one of their choices. Alpha handle renting out an Aston Martin and a Pagani Zonda, yet while they struggle to make sales initially, they soon manage to strike up deals through perseverance with their choices. Renaissance handle renting out a Ferrari and a Spyker, but make fewer sales due to weak salespeople within the team and struggling throughout the task. Alpha secure a far greater total of sales to achieve victory, leaving Renaissance to be questioned over their weak performance. Amongst the losing team, Sir Alan decides to fire Michael Sophocles over his actions on the task and his overall performance in the process.
53SP–3"The Final Five"[20]2 June 2008 (2008-06-02)N/A
As this year's series of The Apprentice draws closer to its finale, this special episode takes a look at profiling the true story behind the five remaining candidates. Discussing their backgrounds, experiences, personality, and strengths and weaknesses, are a selection of each candidate's friends, family and colleagues, as well as Sir Alan's aides, Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford.
5411"Interviews"[21]4 June 2008 (2008-06-04)7.94
After facing ten tasks as teams, the five remaining candidates now compete as individuals in their next task – a series of tough, gruelling interviews with four of Sir Alan's most trusted associates. Each member faces scrutiny over their backgrounds, work experience and performance within the process when questioned by the interviewers. Feedback to Sir Alan, alongside observations by his aides, leaves him with a tough decision on who will be his finalists, eventually culminating in him only firing Lucinda Ledgerwood for being deemed unsuitable for his job offer. Despite criticism, each of the remaining four move into the final – Lee McQueen, for being a good all-rounder; Claire Young, for receiving the best report from interviewers; Helene Speight, for her good business skills; and Alex Wotherspoon, for his proficient sales skills.
55SP–4"Why I Fired Them"[22]8 June 2008 (2008-06-08)N/A
As the final looms, Sir Alan takes a look back to the tasks he set for this year's series of The Apprentice. From the shopping trip in Marrakesh, to the greeting cards designs and luxury rental car challenge, he relieves all of the mistakes and doomed decisions that were made, and gives out his reasons for what made him fire a candidate in that respective task.
5612"The Final"[23]11 June 2008 (2008-06-11)9.29
After facing a multitude of business tasks and a tough interview, the four finalists are split into two teams to face one more challenge – helped by old friends, each team are tasked to market a new line of male fragrance. One team opt for a brand involving a dual-bottle design containing two different scents, but face issues over co-operation on the first task and questions over the design's cost. After a review of their design, Sir Alan deems it problematic, firing Helene Speight for her performance on the task and her negative attitude throughout the process, and Alex Wotherspoon for demonstrating no other skill than sales and his weak overall performance. Of the remaining two finalists, who opt for a fragrance with a casino-themed brand that is considered more appealing despite some issues, Sir Alan decides that Lee McQueen shall be his new apprentice for 2008, due to his ability to improve himself over the process, leaving Claire Young to become the runner-up for raising doubts over giving her long-term employment.

Criticism and controversy

Alleged effects on candidate's health

Following her appearance on The Apprentice, Helene Speight made allegations against the programme, claiming that it had a bad influence on people who took part, stating that participating on the fourth series had been the worst mistake she ever made, after it "made her life a nightmare" and caused her serious health worries. These allegations were made, after it was revealed that she had collapsed with stress during filming of the series and had to be rushed to hospital, before later being diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome after the producers took her to Princess Grace Hospital in London's West End to be checked over, when she began feeling sharp abdominal pains during filming of the eighth episode. In an interview she made, she noted that:[24]

The doctors said it was all due to the pressure of the show and the diet I was eating. Hours later I was getting a boardroom grilling from Sir Alan after the wedding task. I was shaking with nerves convinced I was about to throw up all over Sir Alan and his sidekicks, Nick and Margaret.

Death threats to candidates

After their participation on the show, two contestants claimed that they had received death threats. The first to reveal such threats, Nicholas De Lacy Brown, claimed that they had come from the show's viewers, with the messages threatening to either harm him or give explicit intent to kill him, with one message reported to read as "If I see you, I'll hurt you". However, Nicoholas commented that he remained defiant and that he wouldn't be intimidated by such messages.[25] The second to receive threats, Alex Wotherspoon, was reported to having one of them, an e-mail, being investigated by the BBC.[26]


Official episode viewing figures are from BARB.[7]

weekly ranking
126 March 20086.738
22 April 20086.739
39 April 20087.326
416 April 20087.435
523 April 20087.855
630 April 20087.285
77 May 20087.175
814 May 20087.116
921 May 20085.739
1028 May 20086.846
114 June 20087.944
1211 June 20089.291


BBC Two/One
weekly ranking
The Worst Decisions Ever3 April 20082.0715
Motor Mouths18 April 20081.7325
The Final Five2 June 2008N/AN/A
Why I Fired Them8 June 2008N/AN/A


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  2. "The Apprentice – Let the boardroom battle commence!", BBC Press Office, 18 March 2008
  3. "Meet this year's boardroom..." Metro. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
  4. "Apprentice 'off ill' on first day". BBC News. 2 July 2008.
  5. Gary O'Shea (1 July 2010). "Now that's what I'm talking in public about". The Sun. London.
  6. "Apprentice winners through the years – and where they are now". Daily Star. 1 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  7. "Weekly Top 30 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  8. "Episode 1, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  9. "Episode 2, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  10. "The Worst Decisions Ever, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  11. "Episode 3, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  12. "Episode 4, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  13. "Motor Mouths, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  14. "Episode 5, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  15. "Episode 6, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  16. "Episode 7, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  17. "Episode 8, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  18. "Episode 9, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  19. "Episode 10, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  20. "The Final Five, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  21. "Episode 11, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  22. "Why I Fired Them, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  23. "The Final, Series 4, The Apprentice – BBC One".
  24. "Apprentice made me a MONSTER Helene says show wrecked her". Daily Mirror. 8 June 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  25. "'Apprentice' reject receives death threats". Digital Spy. 30 March 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  26. "Return of the rejects: Fired Apprentice contestants back for a special last show". Daily Mail. 10 June 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
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