The Apprentice 2023 in bullying scandal as candidate reports ‘disturbing’ incident off-camera

‘In all seriousness, in all of my career, I’ve never ever felt as bad’

The Apprentice 2023 has been hit with bullying claims, as a candidate has said she reported other members of her task team after a “disturbing” incident off-camera.

Shazia Hussain has said she was “attacked” by her fellow candidates, during the task which saw them create a cartoon for children. In a TikTok video, which has since been deleted, she explained the incident, which she reported to the show. She said the bullying was so bad, she no longer felt safe in The Apprentice 2023 house with her fellow candidates.

During the task, Shazia came up with the name Yogita for a giraffe cartoon, which her other candidates didn’t think would be a good idea. We saw them disagree with her name suggestion, but Shazia has said this escalated “severely” beyond what was shown on the episode.

via BBC

“I was actually really attacked for the name Yogita, which I can confirm happened really severely off camera,” she said in the video. “But the footage that they did capture on camera didn’t make it into the edit because I think that the viewers would have found it really disturbing, because at the end of the day we’re just trying to make a little cartoon character about an Indian giraffe.

“In all seriousness, in all of my career, I’ve never ever felt as bad as I felt when they removed me off that pitch because my experience in reality would have been an asset on that pitch and because I was so passionate about Yogita.

“Also, I’m an Asian female and we’re talking about representation and after that task I did actually have to report it (the bullying was logged) in all seriousness, I actually felt unsafe in that house living with that level of animosity that was directed at me.”

Shazia then went on to question if her team, who tried to make their task reflect diversity and inclusion, really understood what diversity and inclusion means. “Or do they seriously still think that Yogita is vile, horrible, toxic and awful?” she said.

Shazia continued by saying the name Yogita was actually really well received by the panel of experts judging the task, and the name was “one of the main reasons why we did win that task.”

The Apprentice 2023 hit with bullying claims

via BBC

She added: “One of the things I found really interesting was we actually all agreed to an animal collectively and we all came up with that idea but it was seen as though it was just, you know, like quite a singular effort. But with regards to the name, that was my idea and that was what made the cartoon unique and without it there would have actually not been much diversity inclusion.

“I really hope that they’ve all learnt something from when a [diversity] specialist was called to the house to speak to them about their understanding of what [diversity] is and also to remind them about what bullying is as well.”

A BBC spokesperson has said Shazia’s claims were investigated. They said: “As soon as Shazia raised a concern an investigation was conducted and she received in-person support from senior members of the production team. The Apprentice has a strict code of conduct, we take all complaints very seriously and investigate when needed. As a result, when action is required, we take it. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment. Duty of care to all our candidates is our highest priority.”

2023 isn’t the first year The Apprentice has been hit with bullying claims. Last year, Aaron Willis was accused of bullying fellow candidates and making them cry on set, a claim which he strongly denied.

At the time, a spokesperson for The Apprentice said: “The wellbeing of the candidates who take part in The Apprentice is of paramount importance. Thorough and robust duty of care protocols are in place which include an experienced network of support for candidates who are in regular contact before, during and after filming. All contributors agreed to a code of conduct which was put in place from the outset in order to protect and prioritise their welfare.”

The Apprentice continues at 9pm on Thursday evenings on BBC One. Episodes will also be available on iPlayer

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