Picture the scene: you've just received a call from the BBC announcing that you've been chosen to appear in the next series of The Apprentice. But how will you woo the formidable, saccharine-free Alan Sugar? And how the devil will you ensure that you'll be hired not fired?

1 Be nutty

For some reason, known only to himself, Sir Alan favours candidates who are slightly off their rockers - Jo this series, Saira Khan last. If you speak quickly and unintelligibly, flailing your arms for added drama, and insisting that he should have faith in you, you'll probably survive the boardroom chop.

2 Sir Alan

Always address the master as "Sir Alan", no matter how pretentious or snivelling it may sound. On no account call him "Al", "mate", or "sugar".

3 Do not grovel

Sir Alan hates brown nosers, allegedly, although that's sometimes hard to believe judging by his sidekicks on the show.

4 Stand up for yourself

Mister Sugar will be deliberately provocative in the boardroom in order to raise people's heckles - once it's down to the last three, he becomes extra nasty. Always reply to his criticism, fighting your own corner like a gladiator in a lion's den. You may be talking tosh, but you'll earn his respect. Staying silent like the Karen Bremners of this world will only get you fired.

5 Show spirit

Sir Alan loves a bit of spunk. Dullards he equates with people who have no passion. If you can't get excited about something, how will you perform in business, eh?.

6 Never sound like a toff or appear overeducated

If you've been to public school or have a very plummy voice, tone it down. Sir Alan seems to favour the slightly less eloquent candidates - witness Ben, Karen, Alexa and Mani's firings. He also doesn't have much time for further education, he himself having started work at 16. Maybe it's an affinity for the underdog, his humble Hackney roots or the fact that he has a giant (sweet potato) chip on his shoulder. Whatever. There's nothing refined about Sir Alan.

7 Do not admit your weaknesses

Even if they are glaringly obvious and over nine million viewers have spotted them. Admitting that you're not a very good sales person will ultimately get you fired - business is business: if you can't flog an Amstrad video phone or a private jet service, you're a sure-fire gonner.

8 Never be project manager at the start of the series

You will be a quivering wreck of nerves and will not know your fellow competitors strengths and weaknesses enough to delegate successfully. The first project manager of the losing team, Ben, was out on his ear in the first week. Be warned.

9 Be strategic

In essence, be very very smart. Earn the respect of your team mates by being a good leader. Listen to them, but don't be afraid to ignore their suggestions if you think they are flaky. Always appear decisive and in control during the task, even if you feel on the verge of a breakdown. The better you perform, the less likely they are to backstab you in the boardroom.

10 You're hired!

(But you'll still have to endure being mocked by Adrian Chiles on BBC3.) Ah, the sweet smell of success. The question is: do you really want to sell Amstrad anti-wrinkle cream? Then again, 100 grand per year can't be bad…