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A task to find a kosher chicken in Marrakech caused a stir on the BBC's version of The Apprentice this week, when the self-declared Jewish contestant headed straight for a halal butcher to procure the poultry.

The luckless Michael Sophocles came in for a blasting from the competition's businessman overlord, Sir Alan Sugar, himself Jewish, who questioned Sophocles' religious background after the contestant said that he did not know the meaning of the word "l'chaim."

"In your CV, what's the first thing you wrote on it?" Sugar demanded of Sophocles. "What did you say in there, you're a good Jewish boy? Is that right?"

Upon receiving an ambiguous response, Sugar told him: "If you're unsure you can always pull your trousers down and we can check."

"Is it right you went to a Muslim halal butcher and asked him to get you a kosher chicken? and he actually made a prayer over it?" Sugar asked.

When Sophocles replied in the affirmative, Sugar continued: "Are you having a laugh or what? I don't know why you didn't go the whole hog and find a Roman Catholic priest to take the butcher to confession."

Sir Alan then asked Sophocles if he knew the meaning of "l'chaim" - a Hebrew expression meaning "to life," which is frequently used by Jews in toasts. Sophocles admitted that he did not know what the word meant, but did know "what the word schmuck means."

Sugar's amazement at this gap in knowledge of Jewish custom elicited Sophocles' admission that he was in fact half-Jewish, which led Sugar to question the contestant whether he had included his religious background as "some kind of thing for me to sympathize with you, treat you a little bit differently."

Sophocles denied the charge, and Sugar let the issue go as he continued to lambaste the team for their poor performance.

Sophocles narrowly missed dismissal from the competition, whose prize is six-figure salary and a job in Sugar's organization, as task leader Jennifer Maguire was ousted.

In the discussion Sugar had with his two associates prior to the final elimination, Sophocles was branded a "waste of space" by one, while the other marveled that even he, as a Catholic, knew what kosher was.