VW Caravelle on The Apprentice

You’re hired: how The Apprentice candidates hit the road

VW Caravelle on The Apprentice

The BBC’s The Apprentice returns to our screens this week, with Lord Sugar’s latest batch of supposedly business-savvy hopefuls gunning for his £250,000 investment and the opportunity to work alongside him.

Who’s the real star of the show, though? Not Lord Sugar, not his aides Baroness Karren Brady and Claude Littner  not even the Rolls-Royce Ghost that collects the series winner.

Rather, it’s the fleet of Volkswagen Caravelle Executives being used to ferry the candidates (usually in a hurry) from one location to the next. Expect bickering, shouting and tears in the back, and a quiet, calm chauffeur in the front. 

Look out for the Caravelles tonight (3 October) at 9pm on BBC1.

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The Apprentice Escort Cosworth

You’re hired: retro Fords were real stars of The Apprentice

The Apprentice Escort Cosworth

“Oh. My. God,” trumpeted Apprentice candidate Elizabeth McKenna as she strutted into a room containing a selection of Ford heritage vehicles.

The sight of an immaculate classic Ford is enough to send anyone weak at the knees, just ask our very own Tim Pitt, who hasn’t quite recovered from getting up close and personal with Ford’s ‘secret’ car collection.

For motoring fans, episode seven of The Apprentice promised to be the best yet, with the hopeless and hopeful remainers tasked with advertising a new car to avoid being given a hard exit.

“I’m giving each of the teams a brand new car out of the factory, and what you have to is come up with a campaign to launch it,” said Lord Sugar. Simple enough, when the car in question is the UK’s best-selling vehicle.

Only it proved to be anything but simple. The chosen names were terrible: ‘Expando’ sounds like a pair of elasticated slacks, while ‘Miami’ sounds like… well, a city in Florida.

It got worse. A terrible slice of misfortune (read: poor planning) led to one team arriving at a Norman settlement to shoot a TV ad for the all-new Expando (a de-badged Ford Fiesta).

“They’ve gone medieval. They didn’t even have cars then, did they?” questioned a deadpan Harrison Jones. Well, duh. Time to get on your packhorse and ride out of this medieval town.

What has this got to do with Motoring Research? Truth be told, not a great deal, we just thought it would be an opportunity to relive (shamelessly plug) our time at the Ford heritage warehouse and share a couple of old Retro Road Tests.

Still, if brazen piggybacking is good enough for Mike Brewer…

Here’s Tim Pitt’s pick of the cars hidden away in the Dagenham warehouse, displayed in less salubrious surroundings than a well-lit room in Dunton. But wait, because here’s a video of even more classic Fords – created by Bradley Lawrence. There’s no way Tim or Bradley would ever face the wrath of Lord Sugar in the boardroom.

Did you spot the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth on television? Tim drove it and managed to include a reference to Shakin’ Stevens in his Retro Road Test. But don’t let Cardiff’s ‘Shaky’ put you off, because it’s a good read.

Not to be left out, here’s our editor of all things Retro falling in love with a Mk1 Ford Expando. There’s a disappointing lack of Shakin’ Stevens in this Retro Road Test, but you’ll be pleased to know that Andrew resisted the temptation to drop in on his local Norman settlement.

NEXT> More retro content at Retro MR

The Apprentice Series 13

The Apprentice says ‘you’re hired’ to the Volkswagen Caravelle

The Apprentice VW Caravelle

Tonight, Volkswagen takes a break from playing pirates with Greenpeace and dealing with the continued fallout from dieselgate, when it appears in the new series of BBC’s The Apprentice.

The beleaguered firm has once again supplied a fleet of five sixth-generation Volkswagen Caravelles, all finished in Deep Black pearl effect paint and powered by a – whisper this – 2.0-litre diesel engine.

Volkswagen seized the opportunity to provide transport for the hapless and often hopeless hopefuls – otherwise known as the candidates – when Chrysler was famously fired from the UK. Goodbye Grand Voyager, hello Volkswagen Caravelle.

The Executive model – which costs from £43,219 – is certainly well-appointed and large enough to house even the biggest of egos. And with seats trimmed in Alcantara and leather, it provides adequate comfort for a hard day spent backstabbing your fellow candidates.

Much like Volkswagen, The Apprentice is suffering from a decline in popularity, but continues to soldier on in the face of adversity. While the rest of the world has turned its back on the show, the BBC stays loyal to the programme which has its roots in the US and a certain Donald Trump.

In the first US series, Trump chose Bill Rancic as his apprentice, netting him a one-year, $250,000 contract and a Chrysler Crossfire.

Bill Rancic Chrysler Crossfire

The American auto giant was a primary sponsor of the NBC show, with viewers asked to select one of four Chrysler vehicles for the winner. Some 291,000 people voted for the Crossfire, failing to see the potential of giving a PT Cruiser to the Apprentice champ. A missed opportunity.

As a BBC show, the producers are unable to capitalise on sponsorship deals in the UK, but that doesn’t stop Volkswagen benefiting from a prime product placement on BBC One.

It might not be the TV powerhouse of old, but seven million viewers have tuned in to watch the finals of the three most recent seasons. For Volkswagen, it’s a welcome relief from scandals, pirates and arrests.

For the candidates, everybody is hoping to avoid an early ride in the back of an LTI TXII taxi and to make it through to the final for an opportunity to win a £250,000 investment and a chance to go into business with Lord Sugar.

Who knows, by the end of series, the businessman formerly known as ‘Sir Alan’ might be rocking a new Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII and every fired candidate might be presented with an ageing Chrysler PT Cruiser Cabrio. That should keep them on their toes.