Midlands' bosses should take care before echoing Sir Alan Sugar's catch-phrase You're Fired, one of the region's employment lawyers has warned.
With the hit TV series The Apprentice back on BBC2, Fergal Dowling, partner and head of employment at the Birmingham office of law firm Irwin Mitchell, says bosses must not confuse entertainment with reality.
The new series involves 14 contestants, whittled down from more than 10,000 applicants, battling it out for a £100,000-a-year job with the Amstrad founder.
Mr Dowling said: "More than 2.5 million people watched Sir Alan bluntly dismiss hapless would-be apprentices each week in the first series and the viewers could be forgiven for assuming that getting rid of staff is actually that simple.
"In the real world, however, there are rules protecting employees that simply must be followed. They demand that employers follow a series of steps required by law, including written information, a disciplinary hearing and the right of appeal.
"Employers should also consider formal discussions and written warnings, before workers are sacked. Staff could take employers who did not follow the steps to a tribunal, citing unfair dismissal."
Mr Dowling went on: "Seeing Sir Alan putting his potential apprentices through their paces is hugely entertaining and informative. But The Apprentice is not the real world and bosses must understand that confusing the two will have significant painful results for their companies."