For their third assignment, the remaining 14 candidates on The Apprentice were given the task of creating a new condiment. Both teams attacked this with relish but soon ended up in a pickle as production problems left them playing ketchup. In the end, it was Phoenix who bottled it, and in the boardroom Lord Sugar quickly concluded that furniture retailer Michael Copp didn’t cut the mustard and fired him with the dreaded Digit of Doom™. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen …

Week two. 5:30am. All the housemates are asleep. Oh, hang on, this is The Apprentice and not Big Brother, isn’t it? For their second task, the teams were asked to design and pitch a new household gadget. Phoenix’s Eco Press food waste compactor proved to be a rubbish-based idea that wasn’t so rubbish, while Sterling’s Splish Splash wipeable bath screen failed to make a splash. Having been caught napping – literally – loud-mouthed, purple eye-shadowed restauranteur Maria O’Connor became the second victim of Lord Sugar‘s Digit of Doom™. You snooze, you lose.

In the real world, quality matters. At the least, products must be of an acceptable standard or else customers will never return to buy again. Of course, this is The Apprentice, which is nothing like the real world. In this rarefied atmosphere, all that matters is taking the punters’ money and running. Which is why shoddy products which are unfit for purpose will always win over beautifully designed alternatives.

So it should come as no surprise how the opening task of season eight of the show turned out. Bear-faced cheek triumphed over superior design and loud-mouthed Bilyana Apostolova found herself silenced by the only voice that matters: that of Alan Sugar.

It’s that time of year again. For the next 12 weeks, millions of viewers will be glued to their TVs watching 16 people in business suits acting like petulant children and making frequently ludicrous decisions as they compete for the right to receive a £250,000 investment to fund their own business. Yes, The Apprentice is back!

This year’s 16 candidates were unveiled at the series’ press launch earlier today, complete with the obligatory bios and mean-and-moody profile photos. I’ve worked tirelessly (or maybe that should be tiredly?) to bring you the low-down on the names and faces we will come to know and love – or, equally likely, hate – over the coming weeks.