The Apprentice has been criticised by a group of leading black entrepreneurs for “erasing” black and darker-skinned women from the popular BBC show.
The group, who were successful contestants on Dragons’ Den in season 17, questioned why darker-skinned women were being ‘erased’ from the show.
The duo, consisting of Natalie Duvall and Alison Burton, secured a £50,000 investment from Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones in 2022 for their business, March Muses.
They suggested that black and darker-skinned women are not represented on UK television enough and that this is not acceptable.
The last time that a darker-skinned woman appeared on The Apprentice was in 2017 after Joanna Jarjue made it to week 12 in 2017.
In an Instagram post, the two said they were “saddened” after seeing this year’s line-up.
They said: “Why are Black female entrepreneurs being erased on shows like these? More specifically… darker skinned representation? Where are they? We know they apply and we know there are lots of show researchers who look for “talent” to fill these roles. So what happened this year on @apprenticeuk?
“Yes we know it’s just a TV show… but it has an impact, and why can’t we be a part of it? So many young people watch these shows and you can’t be what you can’t see.”
They pointed out that they know of “hundreds of fantastic black female entrepreneurs who have succeeded without shows like these,” adding that they “shouldn’t have to fight to be seen.
“We need equity, investment and to be in the boardroom.
“@apprenticeuk 2023 is just a clear example of what is always happening in the corporate world. Black Women Erased!
“As gatekeepers, @bbc need to do better.”
This year’s season of The Apprentice saw the appearance of black and mixed-race contestants like Simba Rwambiwa, a senior sales representative from Birmingham, and business owner Rochelle Anthony from Bedfordshire.
In an interview with The Voice, Burton said she believes the BBC needs to actively “search to make sure they are properly ticking a diversity box.”
“I feel like with black women, they are using a BAME approach, and BAME is a term that I absolutely hate,” she said.
“But when they use BAME they can get away with throwing a melting pot of people to tick that diversity box and that’s where we get the ambiguous heritage thrown in there and people will say ‘ok well she’s not white’ or if you have an Asian woman that ticks a box.”
Burton also added: “It annoys me that for the men, the darker the berry the sweeter the juice, basically because they are fetishised and it’s that Idris, it’s that they can be whatever colour.
“But for the women, we have to always be the European beauty standard of what they want, that Kim Kardashian kind of exotic look and it doesn’t stop there.”