The Apprentice is nearing the finale, with the final five ready to face the Interviews tonight (14 March).
The series returned to BBC One in January, with Lord Alan Sugar confirming his aide Claude Littner would return in a reduced role due to “medical issues” and that Tim Campbell would once again be filling in. Littner was absent from season 16 of The Apprentice after he was involved in a bike accident that left him sustaining injuries so severe that doctors considered amputating his leg.
18 candidates have been whittled down to just five, vying for their chance to win the prize of £250,000 towards their business idea. The Interviews will see Lord Sugar’s advisors including Baroness Karren Brady, Mike Soutar, Linda Plant, and Littner challenge their business plans and see who has what it takes to be Lord Sugar’s business partner.
Fans had hoped that Littner would be returning to the new series full-time, but so far this season he will have only taken part in two episodes. Here’s everything we know so far about Claude Littner and what Lord Sugar has said.
Who is Claude Littner?
The 72-year-old American-born British business executive has chaired companies including Amstrad International, Dancall Telecom and Viglen for Lord Sugar.
He has been married to his wife Thelma since 1976, with the pair having two sons Anthony and Alex and five grandchildren. In 1997, Littner was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was given six months to live. He underwent three years of chemotherapy, as well as stem-cell transplant, and went into remission in March 2000. Littner joined The Apprentice as Lord Sugar’s aide in season 11.
What happened to him?
The 73-year-old was involved in a bike accident in April 2021. The incident, which occurred near his home in Mill Hill, London left him sustaining injuries so severe that doctors considered amputating his leg and left him having to undergo nine surgeries.
Littner told the PA media in June 2021: “I was just pottering along, I must have been doing no more than 10 kilometres an hour on this sort of two-track road. The next thing I knew, I was on the left-hand side of the street, my bike was in the middle of the road and I didn’t know what happened.
“My wife and my sons were there as well and [the doctors] decided they were going to amputate my leg. And then they had another chat about it and they said, ‘Look, let’s get him into theatre right away tonight and let’s see if we can save his leg’. And I went into theatre and it was a very long operation and they didn’t take my leg off.”
Asked about what had caused the accident, he struggled to recall what led to the injuries, explaining: “I suspect I hit a pothole or something like that, but I must have blanked out at the moment of impact, because the next thing I knew, I was lying on the ground.”
Is Claude Littner back on The Apprentice?
The businessman joined The Apprentice as Lord Sugar’s aid in season 11 following the departure of Nick Hewer. Prior to that in the previous 10 seasons he had featured as an interviewer in one of the last stages before the final.
It was hoped that Littner would return to the 2023 season full-time, however speaking to the Radio Times and other press outlets at a Q&A for the new season Lord Sugar explained Littner’s role would be reduced due to “medical issues” and that he would only feature in two episodes. Lord Sugar said: “Unfortunately, Claude suffered some medical issues and so I was asked to think of someone else.”
This means that Tim Campbell who previously filled in for Littner will once again be appearing in the upcoming season. Speaking about Campbell’s return Lord Sugar said: “Who better than somebody who’s actually been through the process?” He added: “It was a bit of a no-brainer really because when it comes to making the excuses that these candidates do, you’ve got Tim there, who’s seen it and heard it all.”
Lord Sugar confirmed that Littner would appear in the Interviews episode, sharing a clip from the upcoming show showing him interviewing candidates.
What is his net worth?
Reported by Birmingham Live, Littner is worth an estimated £34 million.
What contestants have made it to The Apprentice Interviews?
The 18 candidates have been whittled down to just five, with an all-female lineup. The contestants vying for the £250,000 prize and a chance to be Lord Sugar’s business partner include:
- Dani Donovan
- Marnie Swindells
- Megan Hornby
- Rochelle Anthony
- Victoria Goulbourne
The Apprentice Interviews airs on BBC One on Thursday 16 January at 9pm.