The infamous words “There’s No Such Thing As A Bad Idea” are routinely proclaimed at the start of brainstorming sessions to encourage innovation and trigger creative collaboration. But while risky and down-right ridiculous ideas are blurted out under the protection of these immortal words, is it really true? Is there such a thing as a bad idea? If The Apprentice is anything to go by, then yes, there are plenty of them. Love it or hate it, the popular BBC show has provided some spectacularly dreadful ideas, pitches and moments over its 10 year series. So if you’re in the midst of a creating a startup and looking for inspiration, we’ve put together a selection of some of the worst ideas and funniest moments from The Apprentice that you may want to avoid.

Don’t Try To Sell Your Business When It Belongs To Someone Else

When Jordan Poulton from series 9 reached the interview stage the scary interviewer noticed something a bit fishy about Jordan's business proposition. Part of the show’s appeal is that the winner will receive £250k investment in return for 50% of the business but Jordan not only tried to change the deal by offering Alan Sugar only 15.39% of the business, it turned out it wasn’t actually his in the first place and actually belonged to his friend! Understanding this minor oversight the interviewer ends with the following words of encouragement: “You’re a parasite.”

Not Paying Attention In Maths

This is a priceless moment when Paula Jones of team 'Empire' discovers that they have used the wrong oil (Sandlewood) that costs over £1,000 per kilo and they used 450 grams. When originally asked how much 450 grams would cost, she replies with £5. When Nick Hewer later points out the mistake, you can visibly see the pause between simple arithmetic, and sudden panic when she retorts with: “No, half of………..oh sh*t!

Don’t Punch Your Colleagues

While Jordan did prove to have some good ideas, ultimately getting through to the final stages, he did have some unusual (some may say bad) ideas on how to celebrate his victories. He slapped, prodded and punched his colleagues which offered viewers some of the most cringing examples of a man pumped sky-high by the aggressive drive to succeed.

Know When You’re Finished

Nargis Ara was a contestant on Series 2 of The Apprentice and had the sole responsibility for pitching her new calendar to a number of retailers. Admittedly Cliff Richard had pretty much sown up the calendar market over recent years, but determined to make an impact and show why she was considered to be one of the brightest business minds in the country, she came up with the idea of a calendar……with a cat on it. Amazing.

During the pitch Nargis had the sole responsibility of convincing the retailers why they should buy and stock her product. Armed with charm, wit and a unique ability to confuse people, she responded to the retailer’s questions with aplomb.

Pitch 1

Nargis – Ask me anything you want.

Buyer – What’s your cost price?


Needless to say the buyer bought nothing. However she did learn from her mistake.

Pitch 2

Buyer – I have a couple of questions, but have you finished?

Nargis – NO I HAVEN’T FINISHED……….(confused silence)…………OK now I’ve finished.

Never Use The Word “Nipple” On Your CV

Jamie Lester from Series 6 got through to the dreaded interview round where CV’s are examined, thoroughly researched and pulled apart at the seams. In Jamie’s case they didn’t have to look too far.

CV Question: What’s the most interesting thing about you? Answer: I have a third nipple.

Stating how many teats you have during an interview is definitely a bad idea. 

Don’t Interrupt A Pitch To Asda With Questions About A Microwave

The candidates have been set the challenge of creating their very own ready meals, but as Team Endeavour are presenting their product to supermarket giant ASDA, Alex Mills has a very bad idea, and starts preparing it in the microwave. Fellow team member Myles Mordaunt, who is giving the pitch, becomes increasingly distracted: "Excuse the noise in the background, he's just preparing something nice for you to eat."

Just as Myles gets back into his stride and much to the annoyance of the ASDA chiefs, Alex interrupts again and declares that he can’t figure out how to work the microwave. A member of the ASDA team replies: "Push the big button at the bottom?"

Sexist Ads & Children With Cleaning Products

These two ideas were part of the same project, albeit from the two opposing teams. The brief was to create a TV ad advertising a household cleaner. The first team created a sexist ad that depicted “the modern woman” who was at her wits end due to her cleaning duties. After using Octi-Kleen (something to do with having eight arms) the woman was finally free to please her man. Yes it is 1952. The second team created an ad that used children to promote cleaning products laden with chemicals. Hmmmm....I think we’ll just leave that one there.

Don’t Assume The French Are Strange

Susan Ma from Series 7 was only 21 when she entered The Apprentice so could be forgiven for being slightly naïve about the rest of the world. However her continued struggle with French culture proved that voicing inner thoughts before thinking is often a terrible idea. Some of her observations included:

“I don’t know any French people…..I know nothing”

“Do the French go camping?”

“Do the French like their children?”

“Do people in France drive?”

We hope our selection of the worst ideas from The Apprentice has given you ample food for thought. As a company formation agent who regularly helps entrepreneurs open or expand their businesses throughout France and the rest of the world, we’re always happy to answer any questions you have on any good business ideas you want to develop. And we can assure you - yes, the French go camping. Yes, the French can drive. And yes, strangely enough the French do actually like their children.

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