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Why everyone on The Apprentice boardroom panel quit

Were they fired?

The Apprentice would be nothing without its leading man, Lord Sugar. But it could be argued that he would be nothing without his trusted advisors.

Recruiting long-term business associates and trusted confidantes, the 2022 series saw him flanked by Karren Brady for a tenth series, with previous winner Tim Campbell added to the fold.

But what happened to the original members of the boardroom, and why did they decide to leave the series. Were they... fired?

baroness karen brady, lord alan sugar, tim campbell, the apprentice

Actually, no. For the most part it seems departures were actually a little bittersweet, if anything.

So what actually happened?

Here are the board members who were previously pivotal in helping Lord Sugar make his hiring decisions.

Margaret Mountford (Seasons 1 to 5)

margaret mountford, the apprentice

Former Northern Irish lawyer and businesswoman Margaret Mountford was Lord Sugar’s first right-hand woman, working alongside Nick Hewer.

In series six (which aired in 2010), she reduced her role away from the boardroom in order to focus on completing her PhD in Papyrology. Instead, she acted as an interviewer to the candidates during the later stages of the competition for a further four series. After series nine, she bowed out completely.

She now boards the Bright Ideas Trust, an initiative helping young people start their own businesses, which was set up by series one winner Tim Campbell.

Nick Hewer (Seasons 1 to 10)

nick hewer, the apprentice

Nick Hewer was the longest-standing advisor for Lord Sugar, staying with the series for 10 series.

The businessman had a long relationship with the businessman, having started working with him in 1983 – some 22 years before The Apprentice appeared on our screens.

He later joined spin-off Young Apprentice and was a regular panellist on the weekly aftershow, The Apprentice: You’re Fired.

However, in 2014, Hewer announced series 10 would be his last on the show.

In a statement released by the BBC, he wrote: "I've been pondering my departure from The Apprentice for a while and have decided that year 10 is the appropriate time.

"So I leave with relief, tinged with regret. Anyone can do what Karren [Brady] and I have been doing, but it takes stamina to follow the candidates week after week, and my stamina is not up to those long weeks.

"I think The Apprentice is a truly valuable programme, teaching young people the basics of business – not in a classroom setting, but in a wonderfully entertaining format, and the winners each year validate the value of the show – talented, creative and hardworking young people, all of whom are making a great success of their businesses."

Later on Twitter, he said: "So farewell Apprentice – it's been 10 yrs of fun working on a worthwhile show but now it's time to file the notebook and throttle back. Bye."

Claude Littner (Seasons 11 to 15)

claude littner, the apprentice

Claude Littner took over from Nick Hewer in series 11, and remained on the show for five series. He was already known to long-time viewers of The Apprentice having been brought in for the interview stages of the process throughout the show’s run.

He also maintained his position as an interviewer, and made appearances on You're Fired.

However, in April 2021, while in London's Mill Hill, Claude suffered a major injury after coming off an electric bike.

The then-72-year-old was rushed to St Mary's Hospital trauma unit, where his leg was considered for amputation, but they were thankfully able to save it. However, he required a lot of physiotherapy and recovery time, having a total of nine surgeries.

Series one winner Tim Campbell was recruited to take his place for series 16 (which aired in January 2022) to give him time to recuperate.

His current status on the show is unknown, however at his hiring, Tim Campbell did note that he was "looking after Claude's chair" rather than taking it.

"I was saddened by the circumstances which led to getting the call from Lord Sugar, but having been on the show myself, I know the hard work that goes into it – so I didn't take the decision lightly," Tim said in a statement."I wish Claude the very best as he recovers."

The Apprentice airs on BBC One and is available on BBC iPlayer.

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