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Bungling boys, bitching girls and a blast from Bill -- The Apprentice is back

THE latest series of The Apprentice is set to kick off with a bang tonight when the newest batch of wannabes receive the hairdryer treatment from Bill Cullen.

Viewers will see him lambast the bungling boy's team after they unwittingly try to sell to Cullen's own staff.

And viewers are set to see the nastiest crop of apprentices to date.

"Viewers will see the girls bitch and go head-to-head. They won't back down. They're willing to stab each other in the back to get ahead . . . really ruthless," said an insider.


And the show will also reveal the ladies' team are eager to jump into the boardroom, while the guys are desperate to shirk the possibility of facing Bill.

The two groups are trying to sell hotel vouchers for Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre and Dundrum Town Centre.

But boys' team Elev8 infuriate Bill when their sales team enters his own showroom and obliviously walks past a life-sized cardboard cut-out of the multi millionaire.

Despite the team being told by the boss that he can't take any vouchers as Bill already owns a hotel with which the garage is associated, the team continues to plead with him to buy some of the vouchers.

The move leaves Bill fuming; "What bright spark had the idea to visit my garage? Did you see my name in 12ft letters and still decide to go in -- even though I own a hotel? I own a hotel and I would hardly be looking for gift vouchers," he added.

And Bill warns the apprentices that this series will be the toughest ever.

Meanwhile the makers of the TV3 show have claimed this could be the last series if new product placement guidelines prove too stringent.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland is set to address product placement on television in the coming month.

But Larry Bass, executive producer of company Screentime ShinAwil which makes The Apprentice, said: "To have Irish content on Irish television we need to have a means of funding it. We can't just fund it through normal commercial channels through advertising. If the new regulations on product placement are prohibitive, and not in the spirit of the EU directive, it won't just be The Apprentice that is affected. It will be impossible to make other programmes like, for instance, The Rose Of Tralee which is sponsored by Newbridge Silver."

Although a board member of the BAI himself, the independent producer has played no part in the discussions due to an obvious conflict of interest.

In March the BAI ruled that an episode of The Apprentice had breached advertising rules when the contestants were asked to create a new style of Cadbury's chocolate bar.

Beginning on TV3 tonight at 9pm, The Apprentice will see 16 hopefuls undertake tasks over 13 weeks in the hope of securing a job in Mr Cullen's company.

Irish Insurance Company No Nonsense are the show's new sponsors after phone company Meteor pulled out.