Hello. This is a new chaptered fic, prologue plus 12 chapters. Aiming for one a week but no promises!

Author's notes: I don't work in TV and my entire experience of being on TV was in the audience as a student and walking past the filming of 'The One Show' when it first started and was filmed in Brum – on my way to the pub after work! – and my Mom saw me, hence I know sweet FA about the 'how to' and have made many (probably inaccurate) assumptions for dramatic effect.

The Apprentice is apparently actually filmed over 7-8 weeks and portrayed to be 12 weeks. I've tried to reflect this in the fic. Everything else is creative licence.

Disclaimers: I do not own any rights to Merlin, its characters or plots. This fic is written for fun and I make no money from it.

I have used an article in this week's (02/10/2010) TV & Satellite Week as a template for the article I have used and the quotes I have appropriated for some of my characters. If you are from TV & Satellite Week and would like this removed please contact me.


Late Spring 2009

For twelve weeks every year Merlin loved Wednesday nights. Will would refrain from going to the pub, Merlin would close the dark room door or shut off his laptop; they would order a takeaway, and sit in front of The Apprentice and mock the stupidity of the contestants.

Will would shout at the TV, and Merlin would mutter under his breath about the general incompetence of pretty much everyone on the screen. Both of them were of the opinion that either the brains of these supposed cream of the crop individuals went to mush as soon as they were on camera, or that the BBC deliberately picked total twats for entertainment purposes, or a combination thereof.

When Merlin had finally had enough by episode 9 and shouted, "For fucks sake, even I could do better than that!" when the Project Manager had made an almighty cock up and tried to pressure a man in a wheelchair to buy a parachuting experience.

Will had raised an eyebrow, "Why don't you enter next year then, if you think you can do better and face down Uther Pendragon in the boardroom?"

Merlin snorted back, "I would if I thought they'd have me. Don't they audition thousands of hopefuls, high flying mover and shaker types – what would they want with a wedding photographer?"

"Merlin, you're hardly just a wedding photographer, you run a successful studio and gallery. Anyone who's anyone wants you doing their wedding, your prints sell for hundreds, your workshop is a runaway success – you are a high flying mover and shaker!"

"All small time stuff," Merlin argued. "There's no way I'd get past the application stage."

Will's lips had twitched, "I never had you pegged as a chicken Merlin."

"I'm not a chicken!" protested Merlin indignantly.

"So, you couldn't do a better job than those dicks?" Will gestured at the screen, still paused to give audience to Merlin's rant.

"I totally could. I just don't think I'd get picked in a million years."

"If you don't apply you'll never know," challenged Will, the glint in his eye flipping an old almost forgotten switch inside Merlin; back to their childhood, Will daring Merlin to climb the tree, or jump off the top diving board, calling him chicken when he didn't want to do it. "Besides, it might take your mind off -"

"Right then," declared Merlin, interrupting Will before he could finish his sentence, folding his arms with purpose and glaring at Will. "I'm applying, and I'm going to get to the final, and Sir Uther Pendragon is going to be eating out of my hand, begging me to come and work for him, you see if he's not!"

"I knew you'd do it. Then of course, you'll tell him where to shove his job, right?" said Will, as though he'd planned this all along, and Merlin wouldn't have put it past him to have been waiting for this chance to present itself.

"Well, I don't want to work for him, I'm happy doing what I do," Merlin wasn't lying either, photography was his life. "It's not like they'll let me on anyway."

Will grabbed Merlin's laptop from the side of the sofa and went to The Apprentice homepage, "They're already advertising for next year – let's apply now – no excuses."

Merlin sighed and let Will complete the online form whilst he watched over his shoulder, correcting him if he tried to make Merlin sound more accomplished than he was. If he was going to do this, he was going to be honest on the form – it was always mortifying when candidates got caught in their own lies.

"There," Will slammed the laptop shut with a satisfied grin. "It's with the Gods now."

"Great," Merlin laughed. "The 'Gods' like me."

"I know...but Merlin, if you get through – no magic allowed!"

Merlin sighed again. He'd be able to win if he used his magic no problem, but he supposed that would be cheating. "Not even to make sure I get an audition?"

"Not even then."

October 2010

The Apprentice article in the TV Guide:

Sir Uther will see you now...

Sir Uther Pendragon returns to the boardroom to hunt for another budding entrepreneur – but this year's prize holds a new twist..

In the five years since the famously hard to please Sir Uther Pendragon first began to search for new business protégés, it has become abundantly clear that shrinking violets need not apply.

As The Apprentice kicks off its sixth series this week, the current economic climate has made the tough talking tycoon even more resolute about what he expects from the winning candidate.

"This series has been filmed in the middle of the credit crunch and when you have to start dreaming up ideas to generate some income, you need a risk-taker and a gambler, not a steady Eddie or a cautious Carol," he says. "People with a bit of fire and special spirit about them are the only people who are going to survive in this depressed climate."

The recession has certainly had a personal impact on several of the 16 candidates embarking on their 12 week job interview from hell.

"Because of the crunch we wanted to give opportunities to people who had been made redundant. We also have a couple of people struggling to start their own businesses and youngsters who have just left university and can't get a job," says Pendragon. "We have for some very serious contenders this time and it's a good blend."

The prize on offer also offers a new twist this year, and candidates have been offered the option of taking the £100,000 a year job with Sir Uther or alternatively they can take a £75,000 prize to help them set up or improve their own business. Sir Uther is kept in the dark regarding which option the candidates have chosen, and candidates do not have the option to change their mind regarding which prize they want once the show has started shooting. Sir Uther says, "Offering an alternative prize has enabled us take on a wider range of candidates and for whom a job working for me might not be the dream, but having their own business – with some input from my advisers – could be the way forward for them."

Serious the candidates may be but, thankfully, the usual hilarious back-stabbing and outlandish self-aggrandising are still present from the outset as the aspiring entrepreneurs are thrown straight in at the deep end for their first task.

Sir Uther is playing his cards very close to his chest about that nature of the first task, but he does add that whatever the candidates do will be under the watchful eye of his shrewd aides, Gaius Wilson and his son – making his first appearance on the show – Arthur Pendragon.

On the subject of his son Sit Uther states, "My son Arthur is set to take over the business from me some day. He is excited at this new challenge, and I look forward to working closely with him and Gaius over the coming weeks."


The Apprentice Wednesday, BBC and BBC HD, 9pm

Who's in the firing line?

Merlin Emrys, 24, Photographer and artist, Worcestershire

"I'll weave my own brand of magic and knock the competition out of my path."

Gwen DeGrace, 25, Wedding dress designer, Cornwall

"Keep business simple and get on with the people you work with."

Lancelot DuLac, 26, Publishing, Somerset

"Always stand by your word, and business will find you."

Vivian Olaf, 27, unemployed estate agent, Edinburgh

"If you get in my way, I'll mow you down."

Nimueh Slater, 29, Restaurateur, Milton Keynes

"I'm like a dog with a bone, I can't let go. If I want something, I get it."

Myror Hunter, 29, Recruitment, London

"My first word wasn't 'mummy' it was 'money'."

Sophia Sidhe, 23, National Accounts Manager, Manchester

"A lot of people talk the talk, but my results are hard proven."

Morgause Gorlois, 30, HR Consultant, Stratford-upon-Avon

"I'd liken myself to a Lamborghini: fast, exciting, stylish and successful."

Gwaine Noble, 28, Lawyer, Dublin

"Don't go for the quick win, look after your clients."

Valiant Bolton, 33, Car Sales, Chester

"I'm Valiant Bolton, the brand. I've got a certain charisma."

Mordred Drew, 21, unemployed graduate, Brighton

"I'm ruthless, even in Monopoly."

Morgana LeFay, 31, Advertising Executive, London

"I'm a hyper achiever. Everything I do is always a success."

Helen Myles, 36, unemployed Retail Business manager, Cardiff

"In business there's no place for shirkers. People who work for me deliver."

Cenred King, 35, Investment banker, London

"Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."

Freya Donnelly, 26, Business Owner, Norwich

"Be careful who you tread on as you go up; you'll need them on the way down."

Leon Castle, 31, Architect, Birmingham

"I fight hard, but fair."


Week one is already posted...