Lord Sugar Finger Analysis: Who will win The Apprentice?

Posted in Articles By Sam Applegate


For those of you that don't know, The Apprentice is a BBC reality TV show which follows 16 candidates as they attempt to secure a £250,000 investment from business legend - Lord Sugar.

Each week, Lord Sugar sets a business task, and the most stupid candidate gets fired. Lord Sugar points the finger and says those magic words, sending them home in a little black cab. The last candidate remaining at the end of the 12 week process, wins.

Lord Sugar boardroom 2012

I'm a huge fan of the show, and after watching zillions of episodes I noticed something quite interesting (well, I thought so away). At the end of each show, there's a 30 second clip previewing next week's episode. During the trailer, there's a brief shot of Lord Sugar's finger, firing one of the candidates.

By watching the direction of Lord Sugar's finger, you can guess who's going to get fired next week!

The Theory - How to Guess who will be Fired

The camera man is roughly fixed, Lord Sugar doesn't move seats and neither do the candidates. So by looking at the angle of his finger (and sometimes his head), you can work out where the fired candidate will be sitting.

From what I can tell, there are 4 camera positions used when filming 'the final 3' scene. Here are some shots to demonstrate, from series 8 - episode 1 with Bilyana, Gabrielle and Katie.

BBC The Apprentice camera angles

Camera 3 is usually used for 'the finger' shot. As you can see, the angle to each candidate varies by about 15 degrees. This should (in theory) be clearly visible by eagle eyed viewers.

Lord Sugar boardroom plan view

However, there's one more thing to think about. Camera 3 does move its position slightly, so this needs to be taken into consideration when guessing who's going to get fired. If you can't see Nick in the shot, the camera man has moved slightly.

The Apprentice camera different camera angles

The Apprentice camera angles plan

Some Examples - Can You Guess who will be Fired?

Take a look at these fingers from previous episodes of The Apprentice series 8. Can you tell which seat (left, middle or right) is getting fired? (Tip: look at Lord Sugar's head direction as well as finger angle).

Press the 'Toggle Answer' button to reveal who got fired.

Lord Sugar finger from The Apprentice series 8 episode 6

Lord Sugar finger from The Apprentice series 8 episode 8

Lord Sugar finger from The Apprentice series 8 episode 9

Lord Sugar finger from The Apprentice series 8 episode 2

Lord Sugar finger from The Apprentice series 8 episode 5

So, who will get Fired on the Next (Episode 10) Show?

At the time of writing this, I have only seen the first 9 episodes of series 8. Let's put our finger analysis to the test and predict who's going to get fired on episode 10, due to air on Wednesday 23rd May 2012. Here's the all-important preview clip from last week's episode.

The first thing to point out here, is that the camera man has moved into a 'pos 1' position (as described above). Nick is clearly visible in the shot and there's even a gap between him and Lord Sugar.

lord sugars face from series 8 episode 10 of the apprentice

Comparing the head angle to the Jenna Whittingham example above, it's clear that this isn't a candidate in the left seat. Even when considering the narrower angle created by the camera man, Lord Sugar's eyes are definitely looking towards the middle or maybe the right seat.

lord sugars face from series 8 episode 10 of the apprentice

Looking at the hand, I believe this is a middle seat (project manager) finger-point. Although the knuckles can be seen over the thumb (suggesting the right seat direction) I think this can be explained by the camera man adopting a 'pos 1' position. As we already know that Stephen Brady is the PM, it will be him who gets fired if they lose.

Watch episode 10 - BBC1 21:00 on Wednesday - to see if my finger analysis is correct!

UPDATE: Wednesday 30th May 2012 (Before Episode 11)

So I was half right! Although, the double firing made it pretty easy to guess - Stephen and Gabrielle both got fired last week.

Lets try again. Who is going to get fired tonight? Here is the still from Lord Sugar's finger, taken from the trailer to series 8 episode 11:

lord sugars face from series 8 episode 11 of the apprentice

lord sugars face from series 8 episode 11 of the apprentice

This looks like middle, again, to me. Therefore, the project manager is going to get fired tonight.

UPDATE: Sunday 3rd June 2012 (Before Episode 12)

Correct again! Adam Corbally was fired, as the Project Manager (sitting in the middle). Tonight is the final, here are the preview 'finger shots', first the seat positioning of the candidates:

The Apprentice series 8 episode 12 final boardroom

The first candidate to get fired:

The Apprentice series 8 episode 12 fired 1

Then the second...

The Apprentice series 8 episode 12 fired 2

Finally, the candidate that gets hired:

The Apprentice series 8 episode 12 hired finger

Well, the first thing I notice, is that the camera angle has changed! Now we're looking from a new position from behind the candidates.

The other thing to point out here, is the format of the final four - two candidates are fired, then the remaining two candidates are sent out the room while Lord Sugar discusses their fate. When they return to the boardroom, they can be sitting in different positions.

I think the first candidate to be fired will be Jade, followed by Nick. Then the hired candidate will be sat in Jade's original seat, on Lord Sugar's right.

Enjoy the show tonight, 8:30pm on BBC1.

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Sam Applegate

About the Author

is a UK based SEO consultant. He is also a keen blogger, poker player, world traveller and fitness enthusiast. Read more on his about page.

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