Lottie Lion has called out The Apprentice’s aftercare following a number of serious threats she received online.
The 20-year-old has become the target of abuse after being told ‘to kill herself’ and one troll even threatened to throw acid in her face when she was out in public.
Lottie has accused her Apprentice co-star Thomas Skinner of fuelling the attack threats after claiming she cheated on her partner with Lewis Ellis.
The former librarian told how The Apprentice production company did reach out to her following the abuse, which started on Sunday 1 March, although she believes it was ‘just to tick a box’ as they were ‘preparing themselves for another Caroline Flack situation’.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Lottie opened up about how she has struggled to deal with negative comments after she thought it had all ‘died down’.
‘I got a call from a member of the production staff who reached out to me after the comments and asked “are you ok?” and I thought actually that is really kind but when I went to talk about it he said “oh sorry Lottie I’ve got to go now”,’ she began.
‘I feel like he was doing his duty of care but he wasn’t going above and beyond. They have to tick a box – they have got to look like they are doing it right. I think they were preparing themselves for another Caroline Flack situation. That is how I felt, it was horrible.’
She added: ‘They need to be more conscious of people’s feelings. I was a dancing monkey for the 12 weeks I committed to the programme, I went above and beyond.
‘They no longer care about your feelings or anything and it is quite sad.’
The threats were initially sparked when she tweeted about moving into her new flat in Bristol after she and her partner split up.
Along with a heart emoji, she said: ‘A week ago my partner (of nearly a year) left me, I moved out and was in an utter panic. Today with the help of my grandparents I’m moving to my new flat in Bristol. I couldn’t be more excited/ nervous and grateful to them.’
Thomas quickly responded and claimed that if Lottie had been with her partner for a year, then she must have cheated on him with their fellow candidate Lewis.
The pillow salesman wrote: ‘Sorry to hear about this but on the bright side if you was with him a year… you must have cheated on him with @ImLewisEllis in Finland so couldn’t have been that good.
‘Good luck in your new flat. Let me know if you need any pillows. I’ll send you some out good luck. (sic)’
Following the series of tweets, Lottie called Thomas out after claiming she had received a number of threats as a result of his tweet, including one suggesting they’d throw acid in her face.
She posted: ‘Day 2 after a s****y unnecessary comment: I have now received 1 message saying they’d throw acid in my face, 7 messages telling me I should commit suicide, over 10 hoping I would die, and over 70 either calling me a s***, a s*** or another negative word. Still a joke, Tom?’
Lottie’s pal and former co-star Marianne Rawlins stepped in to defend the businesswoman and stressed she became really worried.
She told Metro.co.uk: ‘This is what bothers me, the most recent tragedy was Caroline Flack. I was already worried about Lottie and then this happened.
‘I was hoping maybe people would see the connection there but she is getting abuse – and quite a bit of it at 20 years old. There doesn’t seem to be much learning at all.’
Since receiving the threats, Lottie admitted she is scared to go out on her own in case someone does throw acid in her face.
She continued: ‘It is daunting going out on your own when you get recognised in public. I think that what [Thomas] has done is not great and I think it makes me more of a target in a new area where I don’t know people.
‘It is so nerve-wracking and quite scary. I try not to go out late at night and I do get bad anxiety about living in a new area. When you get comments like “I am going to throw acid at you if I see you in public”, it doesn’t matter if that you take with a pinch of salt because you’re still looking over your shoulder.’
A spokesperson for The Apprentice responded to Lottie’s claims and insisted to Metro.co.uk they have an ‘experienced network of support for candidates’.
They commented: ‘The wellbeing of the candidates that take part in The Apprentice is of paramount importance, and we have a thorough and robust duty of care protocol in place which includes an experienced network of support for candidates before, during and after filming.’
A spokesperson for the BBC stressed a core part of the production is to help protect vulnerable contributors.
They explained: ‘For the BBC, planning around care for members of the public taking part in our programmes is always a core part of our production process and we have editorial guidelines to help protect vulnerable contributors.
‘We have plans which cover initial casting through to pre-production, to aftercare beyond transmission. Depending on the production we offer support such as meetings with psychologists, mental health first aiders on set, and advice on social media use and working with the press.’
The spokesperson insisted they have their ‘own safeguarding team of health and wellbeing professionals to give support.
They added: ‘We also carry out training for our staff to raise awareness of mental health issues of contributors. We work with indies to make sure best practice is applied across their programmes. We continue to work with independent producers, external specialists and others in the industry to develop best practice in this area.’
The Apprentice is available for catch-up on BBC iPlayer.
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