After a two year hiatus, The Apprentice is back in business with Lord Alan Sugar berating another 16 entrepreneurs over a series of 12 tough tasks.
With a life-changing £250,000 investment in their business up for grabs, the stakes are high for the candidates, who must impress Lord Sugar week in, week out if they are to avoid the dreaded “you’re fired” finger point.
As always there are big characters in the boardroom of all ages, experiences and personalities, all united by a fiercely competitive streak and seemingly boundless confidence. We’ll just have to see who has the business acumen to back it up.
Meet the candidates
From: Chorley, Lancashire
Occupation: Flight Operations Instructor
Aaron Willis has worked many different jobs over the years, being a milkman, a horseman and a butcher at various points, as well as serving in the RAF for 12 years as a Flight Operations Instructor. He has since started his own security business and is “hungry for success,” being at a stage now where he “can’t let anyone stand in his way.”
“My strongest point is that I can sell to anybody,” he says, “and I think that’s the reason why my business will be a success, because people will buy from me.”
Occupation: Strategy Manager For A Financial Firm
Akeem is one of the many self-described “people persons" in this year’s edition, but he is also a “numbers guy” which he feels gives him a more “calculated point of view” than his contemporaries.
“My growing up has made me who I am,” he says. “I’m able to converse with everyone, but also be able to show that financial, business side to myself.”
Occupation: Owner, Digital Marketing Agency
According to Akshay, he’s been a Wolf of Wall Street since he came out the womb. His first word was apparently “profit,” he says sleeping is simply “a waste of time” and he believes he was put on earth to do just one thing: make money.
“My friends call me AK47 because I’m a killer salesperson,” says Akshay. Although as Lord Sugar points out in the first episode, AK47s also get fired very quickly.
Occupation: Owner, Commercial Cleaning Company
Alex left school after the first year of sixth form and has had to face up to several obstacles since, but that he has now almost tripled the turnover of his commercial cleaning business is credit to his drive and focus.
Says Alex, “I would compare myself to a Ferrari: shiny on the outside but under the bonnet, there is a lot of fire and I’m coming for you.”
Occupation: Owner, Beauty Brand
Having previously worked in “sales, showbiz and jingles,” Amy started up her beauty brand a little later in life. But she is determined, persistent and a “tough boss.”
“I can be nice when I need to be,” she says, “but when I unfortunately have to be a bitch, I will...” Watch out fellow candidates, we’ve got a badass over here.
Occupation: Hotel Front of House Manager
“People person” number two, Brittany, also describes herself as kind, sociable, enthusiastic and someone with a positive outlook. She comes into the competition ready to learn and confident she’ll reach the final, where she’ll hope to win the investment for an idea she’s had for the first alcoholic protein drink.
“My motto for life is ‘always look on the bright side and be grateful for everything’– every day when I wake up, I write 10 things that I am grateful for and when I go to sleep, I reflect on 5 things I am grateful for from that day,” she says.
Occupation: Sales Executive, former Professional Rugby Player
Conor is hard-working and “hyper-motivated by money” with a record for getting deals done, and he reckons the “high-pressure situations” he experienced as a professional rugby player will make the coming weeks “a walk in the park.” He would invest the cash prize in his idea for a fleet of quirky food and beverage vendors at music and sports events.
“I’m going to be the corporate panther in the boardroom, I’m going to get it done, and I’m going to be Lord Sugar’s perfect business partner,” he says.
Francesca Kennedy Wallbank
Occupation: Owner, Sustainability Company
Coming from a line of successful entrepreneurs, eco-conscious maths graduate Francesca is confident of victory because she has apparently “never lost anything.” She is looking for investment in her next venture providing product carbon footprint service for businesses with a simple equation she created herself.
“There are two types of people in the world,” she says, “there’s people that say they are going to do things and people that actually do them, and I’m a doer.”
From: West Midlands
Occupation: Regional Operations Manager
Harry entered the boardroom boldly proclaiming himself to be the “Asian version of Lord Sugar” and hoping for the two of them to become “the bad boys of the bath bomb world,” only to be fired in the very first episode.
From: West Yorkshire
Occupation: Owner, Dessert Parlour
Harpreet describes herself as a born leader, both fearless and funny, with major plans to turn her six-figure coffee and cakes business into one of the leading brands in the UK.
“I’m definitely not in business to make friends,” she says. “I’m here to make money, and I’m pretty sure Lord Sugar isn’t looking for a new mate.”
Kathryn Louis Burn
Occupation: Owner, Online Pyjama Store
A former mortgage advisor and events manager, Kathryn now has ambitious plans for her pyjamas, which she says will one day be “worn by everyone.” She says she is kind but often “savage”: a side we saw on full display in the first episode when she defied democracy in the very first task.
“My dreams in my head are absolutely huge and I believe I can achieve them,” she says.
Qualified pharmacist and Nicki Minaj superfan Navid claims people visit his pharmacy for his quirky personality. He plans to win Lord Sugar’s help and expertise to expand his pharmacy business, all the while staying true to himself.
“Nothing intimidates me because I just feel like I’m a strong character, strong person, strong mindset,” he says.
Occupation: Finance Manager
Nick is a qualified accountant but hopes to make a name for himself in the drinks industry with his line of flavoured water. Being “people person” number three and fun to be around, Nick is taking the unique approach of beating the competition by “kill(ing) them with kindness.”
“In business I’m a bit of a force to be reckoned with. I know what I’m talking about, I know how things work and I’m extremely experienced. So, I’m a bit of an animal in the boardroom,” he says. Sounds like the panther’s met his match.
Occupation: Owner, Boutique Cocktail Bar
According to saleswoman turned businesswoman Sophie, she is “magical and enchanting,” which probably has something to do with her witch school qualifications. Coupled with her positive attitude, she believes winning is “in her DNA,” and is looking to win big here to finance her renovation plans for her cocktail bar.
“Failure is not an option, winning is part of my DNA,” she says.
Occupation: Owner, Children’s Day Nursery
Shama is a mother of five and, as the owner of a day nursery, is passionate about childcare. She is loyal, determined and outspoken, and ready to prove she has the “skillset that is required to be one of the best, successful businesswomen in the early years sector.” Although she admitted in the first episode that it’ll be nice to get some rare peace and quiet.
“Being a lady of colour, wearing a headscarf as well, and the challenges that we face on a daily basis, I just want to be a living example for the Asian women and South Asian women out there,” she says.
Occupation: Owner, Online Children’s Store
Stephanie describes herself as confident, decisive and brutally honest, and aspires to become part of the fast growing second-hand fashion industry with her designer children’s wear store.
“I’m an East London girl,” she says, “and I’ve got that no nonsense sort of work ethic. I’ve got grit, determination and I’m determined to be successful.”
The Apprentice airs on Thursdays at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.