he BBC has been hit with complaints from The Apprentice fans who accused the show of ‘animal cruelty’.
Last week’s episode saw the candidates travel Cornwall as part of a task involving sourcing and selling crabs at one of the county’s biggest markets.
Some viewers reacted angrily with 102 complaints that the mission set in Newquay amounted to “cruelty to animals.”
A charity dedicated to protecting animals also weighed into the debate.
PETA’s director Elisa Allen said in a statement after the episode aired: “PETA urges the producers of The Apprentice to stop harming animals in the name of entertainment.
“And we call on viewers to help crabs and other crustaceans by leaving them in the ocean, where they belong.
“Crabs are fascinating, sentient beings who care attentively for their young and are loyal to those close to them - some even greet one another by waving their claws.”
She continued: “Those captured and hauled up from their homes may lose their fragile legs or sustain other painful injuries before being killed in crude ways, including by being boiled alive.
“Delicious, humane vegan options - including plant-based crab cakes and lobster rolls - are widely available.”
Viewers reacted with similar indignation with one tweeting: “Had to turn tonight’s @bbcapprentice episode off - too distressing and offensive. Huge fan for years.
“Why engage with the suffering and depletion of marine life through fishing? And subject vegan/vegetarian viewers (and participants?) to it, for the sake of a ‘task’? Not ok!”
Another added: “Hope that they released the 50kg of crab that was not needed ALIVE back in to the ocean. Disgusting that killing innocent animals is a task on #TheApprentice.”
A spokesman for the show responded to the backlash in a statement which said: “We consulted fishing governing bodies and industry experts in the development and filming of this task, including the Marine Conservation Society, DEFRA, the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide and the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation.
“Line catching and crab pot methods, both of which are sustainable commercial fishing practices, were used. Any fish and crab that the candidates failed to sell during the task, was then given back to the preparation companies and sold on by them to achieve zero fish food waste.”