Lord Sugar’s secretary on The Apprentice – Real job, replacement and alias
The Apprentice’s secretary has remained an enigma for the nearly 20 years of the programme’s life.
Known to the public as merely a glamorous back with the legendary catchphrase: "You can go through to the boardroom now", fans were still left shaken to their cores to find she had been replaced during the first episode of series 16.
As the new – and rather nervous – bunch of candidates gathered for their introduction to boardroom life, it was an American voice that instructed the candidates that Lord Sugar would see them now.
And shocked fans soon made their opinions known on social media, with one tweeting: “New receptionist getting her holiday spreadsheet up and running early doors."
Another posted: "Oooo new receptionist!"
But who are Lord Sugar’s receptionists? Daily Star takes a look…
Lord Sugar can sometimes be heard calling his on-screen secretary Frances – and some fans will be stunned to learn that this is not her real name.
In reality, his real-life receptionist for his company Amstrad was called Frances Penn – who would now be 75 – declined to appear on the TV show, and as of 2008 was officially retired from her job.
Instead, three younger members of the staff were used in Frances’ place for the early seasons of the show – and to make life easier for Lord Sugar, he decided to dub them ‘Frances’ too.
Frances reportedly lived in a former council house which she inherited from her parents in Edmonton, and did not have a car as Lord Sugar would send a taxi to her door each morning to pick her up for work.
Even the candidates began referring to her as Frances on the show.
In 2021, Lord Sugar headed to Australia to sit at the helm of a celebrity version of The Apprentice, accompanied by his very own Miss Moneypenny to Lord Sugar’s Bond.
This time, his secretary was mature model Natasha Young, who built her own social media fanbase from the show and has an Instagram profile where she says she is "flying the flag for silver hair".
Natasha has a husband, Gavin, who she has been married to for 21 years, and with whom she shares sons.
Outside of her modelling work, Natasha is a graphic designer and represented by Silver Fox Management.
In 2008, the third series of the UK show, Lord Sugar’s secretary was played by the then 29-year-old Samantha Moon.
She was a former receptionist herself at Talkback Thames, producers for The Apprentice, and was inducted into the role as the third ‘Frances’ to take part in the show.
Though viewers at home only caught glimpses of Shropshire-born Samantha’s hair, shoulders and back, were besotted with the enigmatic secretary – and candidates reportedly attempted to chat her up and give her little gifts.
Speaking to MailOnline in 2008, Samantha’s mum admitted her appearance on the show was an "open secret", explaining to the publication: "A lot of people have recognised her voice and asked me if that was her on The Apprentice."
And one series three candidate, satellite engineer Simon Smith, explained of the star: "She's really lovely. You go in at your lowest ebb because you've just come off the task and she always looks and smells great."
Sam would get a call from the production team at 5:30 in the morning and have to give the candidates a call on the house phone to tell them when the cars would arrive.
Her mum Gwen explained she would then do "a full day’s work" as a production assistant at Talkback Thames, before filming in the evening "which can last until 10pm".
Gwen added: "She has to have a different outfit for each show and, as you can imagine, she has a large wardrobe now.
"But she doesn't get paid anything extra for doing The Apprentice. Her only perk is the clothing allowance."
Brand-new secretary for the 2022 series of the show has finally been revealed as Ashley Young.
26-year-old Ashley, who is a congenital amputee and missing the lower part of her right arm, shared the news on Twitter, telling her fans: "Really excited to share with you all that I had the honour of being the receptionist on #TheApprentice this year."
On her Twitter bio, Ashley describes herself as an "American cyborg in London", and is an actor and model hailing from across the pond.
She was booked via specialist talent agency Zebedee Management, which intends to increase the representation of people who have until now been excluded in the media, including people with disabilities or alternative appearances.
Speaking to The Mirror about her starring role, Ashley said: "Everyone on the show was really lovely and it was like working in a big family. I filmed the boardroom scenes between June and the end of August.
"I’ve not worked as a receptionist before and this was my first acting role with a speaking part so I was quite nervous at first. Luckily they gave me a whole wardrobe of business clothes to wear.
"When I first had to take the boardroom call from Lord Sugar I was very nervous and sweating as all the contestants were looking at me, but I soon got used to it and relaxed."
Her acting CV lists her hobbies as horse riding, scuba diving, yoga and crossbow.
She has even worked as a scare actress at Orlando's Universal Studios in the past.
The Apprentice airs Thursdays on BBC One at 9pm
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