Entertainment

Meet the The Apprentice candidates: A canon-firer and the Kim Kardashian of the business world

The Apprentice is returning to our screens this month and a new batch of candidates will be battling it out to win Lord Alan Sugar’s investment.

It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for a business owner, and the 18 entrepreneurs are all hoping to win the £250,000 cash injection and invaluable advice from Lord Sugar.

The full line-up for the show has been released ahead of it’s return on Thursday and this year’s looks more entertaining than ever before.

This year’s group features nine men and nine women who will all do their best to impress Lord Sugar and his advisors, Baroness Karren Brady, Tim Campbell and Claude Littner. 

The hit BBC show is now in its 17th season, and marks the first in person launch since 2019 due to the Covid pandemic.

It began in 2005 as a groundbreaking show which featured some of the country’s best young business minds hoping to secure a job with the then Sir Alan.

However the programme has slowly turned into a more reality TV-inspired fare, with big personalities gloating irreverently about their skills in business. 

Among them are two sweetshop owners, two hairdressers, a martial arts instructor, and a pest control company owner and they will be put through their paces through a series of tricky tasks, with the first set in Antigua.

The 20th anniversary of the series will air next year, with Lord Sugar saying he would do 20 years and then retire, having invested over £3million of his own money over the years. 

Meet all 18 candidates hoping to secure an investment for their business ideas. 

Meet the candidates: 1. Marnie Swindells 2. Simba Rwambiwa 3. Dani Donovan 4. Gregory Ebbs 5. Victoria Goulbourne 6. Reece Donnelly 7. Avi Sharma 8. Denisha Kaur Bharj 9. 10. Joseph Phillips 11. Mark Moseley 12. Megan Hornby 13. Shazia Hussain 14. Shannon Martin 15. Sohail Chowdhary 16. Kevin D’Arcy 17. Rochelle Anthony 18. Emma Browne

AVI SHARMA

Youngest: Avi is this year's youngest candidate, and works as a city banker in London. He describes himself as 'confident' and 'optimistic' and says he can 'bring a smile to the most miserable face!'

Youngest: Avi is this year’s youngest candidate, and works as a city banker in London. He describes himself as ‘confident’ and ‘optimistic’ and says he can ‘bring a smile to the most miserable face!’

‘Some say I’m delusional, I prefer the term optimistic.’

Avi is this year’s youngest candidate, and works as a city banker in London.

He describes himself as ‘confident’ and ‘optimistic’ and says he can ‘bring a smile to the most miserable face!’

He wants Lord Sugar’s investment to help get him out of the ‘rat race’ of a banking job, boasting: ‘I’m the hardest working rat he’ll ever meet.’ 

BRADLEY JOHNSON

Success: Bradley is a self-made businessman, who is the director of a construction company in North Yorkshire. He prides himself on his work ethic and drive which he claims has allowed him to create a business that turns over half-a-million after being made redundant just four years ago

Success: Bradley is a self-made businessman, who is the director of a construction company in North Yorkshire. He prides himself on his work ethic and drive which he claims has allowed him to create a business that turns over half-a-million after being made redundant just four years ago.

‘I have a business plan that will see us turn over seven figures after year three and who knows where else that could take us.’ 

Bradley is a self-made businessman, who is the director of a construction company in North Yorkshire.

He prides himself on his work ethic and drive which he claims has allowed him to create a business that turns over half-a-million after being made redundant just four years ago.

He admits that his biggest weakness is public speaking, confessing: ‘I was always the shy kid at school, I hated having to stand up and read in English lesson’. 

DANI DONOVAN

In it to win it: Dani owns a hair salon in Hertfordshire, which she started as a teenager and believes the key to business is 'passion'

In it to win it: Dani owns a hair salon in Hertfordshire, which she started as a teenager and believes the key to business is ‘passion’

‘My biggest weakness is also my biggest strength.’

Dani owns a hair salon in Hertfordshire, which she started as a teenager and believes the key to business is ‘passion’.

She says she has a ‘unique’ personality and describes herself as ‘a different kind of business owner, which is a lot more relatable to people.’

Her self-confessed weakness, is ‘that nothing is ever good enough and that I always want more. This is a weakness because then I’m never content with what I have achieved. But it’s also a humongous strength – it is what has pushed me to come so far.’

She believes she deserves to win the programme because her business fills a ‘huge gap’ in the market, saying: ‘It baffles me that no one has done it yet!’

DENISHA KAUR BHARJ 

Brave: Denisha works as a financial controller in Leicestershire and says she's not afraid of getting out of her comfort zone

Brave: Denisha works as a financial controller in Leicestershire and says she’s not afraid of getting out of her comfort zone

‘I have always known what I wanted in life. I know the dreams I want to achieve. There’s only one Denisha Kaur.’

Denisha works as a financial controller in Leicestershire and says she’s not afraid of getting out of her comfort zone.

She describes herself as ‘strong, motivated and hard-working’ and says she can work under pressure, overcoming both professional and personal tests to reach success.

Denisha says she wants the investment opportunity because she wants to ‘be  mentored by the best to be the best.’

She argues she deserves it, because: ‘I’m a woman who wants to create an empire and have it all; to be able to provide for my family and to be an inspiration to young women. I dream big, but I work extra hard and know everything is possible.’ 

EMMA BROWNE

'Workaholic': Emma is a senior account executive in County Kildare and says she is 'extremely competitive' and a 'workaholic' who will 'do anything succeed'

‘Workaholic’: Emma is a senior account executive in County Kildare and says she is ‘extremely competitive’ and a ‘workaholic’ who will ‘do anything succeed’

‘I am disgustingly competitive. I will go to any lengths to win this investment.’

Emma is a senior account executive in County Kildare and says she is ‘extremely competitive’ and a ‘workaholic’ who will ‘do anything succeed’.

She has over five years of hands-on sales experience and says she wants to ensure she will win tasks by being honest about her opinions.

Describing her business idea, she says: ‘I am confident that whether I win the investment from Lord Sugar or not, I am going to make my company one of the most successful ideas to ever come out of The Apprentice. Watch this space.

GREGORY EBBS

Interesting: Gregory is the owner of an online antiques marketplace based in Shropshire and is also a local coucillor, while he previously worked as a professional cannon-firer

Interesting: Gregory is the owner of an online antiques marketplace based in Shropshire and is also a local coucillor, while he previously worked as a professional cannon-firer

‘My biggest weakness, some could call a strength in my opinion, is sometimes being a little too unusual.’ 

Gregory is the owner of an online antiques marketplace based in Shropshire and is also a local coucillor, while he previously worked as a professional cannon-firer.

He says his USP is ‘my ability to think outside the box and try out new and different things’ and confesses to being ‘slightly more unusual than most’.

He says: ‘I would say, a willingness to try different things and not being afraid to be slightly different is one of my biggest strengths. 

Speaking on his business idea, Gregory said: ‘I think the chances of making this business super successful is greater than anybody else’s, because it’s such a fantastic principle.’ 

JOSEPH PHILLIPS

Unique: Joseph is a safari guide in South Africa, from Worcestshire and he believes that gives him the edge to be 'unique enough to succeed in the process', describing himself as the 'James Bond of the business world'

Unique: Joseph is a safari guide in South Africa, from Worcestshire and he believes that gives him the edge to be ‘unique enough to succeed in the process’, describing himself as the ‘James Bond of the business world’

‘If Lord Sugar wants to invest in a business to help save the ocean, one lip balm at a time, then I’m his guy.’

Joseph is a safari guide in South Africa, from Worcestshire and he believes that gives him the edge to be ‘unique enough to succeed in the process’, describing himself as the ‘James Bond of the business world’.

He admits that his biggest weakness is his dyslexia and say he ‘struggled to keep my head above water’ at school and keep up with his peers.

But Joseph said the diagnosis has now become a driving force to succeed and go further as he wanted to prove that you can still be anything you want to be with dyslexia.

He graciously adds: ‘I don’t deserve Lord Sugar’s investment more than anyone else in the process, but I do think I have something that they don’t.’  

KEVIN D’ARCY

‘With Lord Sugar as my business partner, I know we can ride that wave into the UK and beyond…’

Kevin is an accountant from Dublin who began his water sports equipment business during lockdown while juggling his job.

He claims his business has turned over just under half a million in two years and says that combined with his 10-year career in financial service sets him apart from the rest.

Kevin admits his biggest weakness to be: ‘I can be a little outspoken, so probably not knowing when to shut up.’

MARK MOSELEY

Ready: Mark is the owner of a pest control company in London, arguing that Lord Sugar can invest because the industry is worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year in the UK

Ready: Mark is the owner of a pest control company in London, arguing that Lord Sugar can invest because the industry is worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year in the UK

‘If Lord Sugar doesn’t pick me, then he’s missing a trick.’ 

Mark is the owner of a pest control company in London, arguing that Lord Sugar can invest because the industry is worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year in the UK.

He is also a former soldier who has worked all over the world in remote and hostile environments, meaning he should be right at home in the boardroom.

He describes himself as ‘very talkative with the charm to match – I can sell to anyone’ and claims to have met celebrities and members of the royal family.

Mark confesses he can be ‘a little bit over-confident from time to time’ but explains that ‘people buy into confidence’.

MARNIE SWINDELLS 

Impressive: Marnie is a court advocate in London who is also a gold medal-winning boxer and imaginative businesswoman who is ready to face off against the other candidates

Impressive: Marnie is a court advocate in London who is also a gold medal-winning boxer and imaginative businesswoman who is ready to face off against the other candidates

‘I have fought tooth and nail to get to where I am today with my business.’ 

Marnie is a court advocate in London who is also a gold medal-winning boxer and imaginative businesswoman who is ready to face off against the other candidates.

She says her USP is her ‘imagination and creativity’ but admits her passion and eagerness can sometimes translate as being too ‘headstrong’.

She says she deserves Lord Sugar’s investment because: ‘I think that taking the experience I have in the boxing industry and all the experience that he has in the business industry, together we would be a winning combination.’

MEGAN HORNBY

Hopeful: Megan is the owner of a sweet shop and café in East Yorkshire and says her business has a 'real niche' in a gap in the market

Hopeful: Megan is the owner of a sweet shop and café in East Yorkshire and says her business has a ‘real niche’ in a gap in the market

‘I think that no matter what situation I am thrown into, I will always give one hundred percent truth, even if it’s hard to hear.’

Megan is the owner of a sweet shop and café in East Yorkshire and says her business has a ‘real niche’ in a gap in the market.

She says her biggest asset is her honesty, saying it’s the ‘most important thing in business’.

Her biggest weakness is her ambition, confessing: ‘I can take too many things on, and sometimes I need to focus on certain aspects.’

She says she should have the £250k because: ‘I really think that with Lord Sugar’s investment, my business could be nationally recognised’. 

REECE DONNELLY

Savvy: Reece is the owner of a performing arts school in Glasgow who is determined to become the first Scottish candidate to secure Lord Sugar's investment

Savvy: Reece is the owner of a performing arts school in Glasgow who is determined to become the first Scottish candidate to secure Lord Sugar’s investment

‘I’m going to be turning over a million pounds before I’m thirty.’

Reece is the owner of a performing arts school in Glasgow who is determined to become the first Scottish candidate to secure Lord Sugar’s investment.

He says he is the youngest CEO of a further education college in the UK and says he has ‘all the experience, drive, and personality’ to succeed.

He admits that he can be guilty of neglecting the grunt work, saying: ‘Admin or accounting tasks aren’t quite for me’ but that this makes him a better leader who is able to delegate.

Reece says he wants to prove: ‘Scotland is filled with forward-thinking entrepreneurs and that we are not in fact a haggis-eating, kilt-wearing nation.’

ROCHELLE ANTHONY

Glam: Rochelle owns a hair salon and academy in Bedfordshire and has compared herself to Kim Kardashian in the business world

Glam: Rochelle owns a hair salon and academy in Bedfordshire and has compared herself to Kim Kardashian in the business world

‘I’m always being compared to the Kim Kardashian of the business world because I’m doing business with a hint of glam.’

Rochelle owns a hair salon and academy in Bedfordshire and has compared herself to Kim Kardashian in the business world. 

She describes herself as ‘tenacious, fierce and determined’ and says together with Lord Sugar they would be ‘an absolute force to be reckoned with.’

According to Rochelle, her biggest weakness is she doesn’t like the word ‘no’ and can’t let go, instead turning it into a ‘not yet’, but learns from her mistakes.

SHANNON MARTIN

Here comes the bridal expert: Shannon is the owner of bridal boutique from West Yorkshire and is hoping to be the first business partner to bring Lord Sugar into the lucrative bridal industry

Here comes the bridal expert: Shannon is the owner of bridal boutique from West Yorkshire and is hoping to be the first business partner to bring Lord Sugar into the lucrative bridal industry

‘Lord Sugar needs to be my next business partner, so I can make him millions.’

Shannon is the owner of bridal boutique from West Yorkshire and is hoping to be the first business partner to bring Lord Sugar into the lucrative bridal industry.

She admits she struggles to prioritise and plan because ‘I want everything now’ and that it can cause a bit of stress.

She believes she deserves the investment because: ‘There are not many other businesses that design, and manufacture wedding dresses made solely in the UK, which is exactly what my business plan is.’

SHAZIA HUSSAIN

Inspiring: Shazia is a technology recruiter in London and wants to inspire a varied representation of diverse women in the world of business

Inspiring: Shazia is a technology recruiter in London and wants to inspire a varied representation of diverse women in the world of business

‘I don’t need any friends in business. I am here to win this.’

Shazia is a technology recruiter in London and wants to inspire a varied representation of diverse women in the world of business.

She says her ADHD is both her USP and biggest weakness, saying she can process information faster, react quicker and see things differently, but can lose concentration quickly.

She says she should get the win because: ‘It’s important to see a varied representation of women, including women with neurodiversity in business, as people with neurodiversity are linked to being increasingly successful within the corporate sector. I hope that I’ll encourage more people like me not to be ashamed of their difference.’

SIMBA RWAMBIWA

Perfectionist: Simba is a senior sales representative from Birmingham and says he's a perfectionist as he always wants to 'get things right'

Perfectionist: Simba is a senior sales representative from Birmingham and says he’s a perfectionist as he always wants to ‘get things right’

‘My USP is myself. If people can’t buy into you, they’ll never buy anything from you.’

Simba is a senior sales representative from Birmingham and says he’s a perfectionist as he always wants to ‘get things right’.

He says he deserves the investment opportunity because his business guarantee prpfit, ‘but also guarantees to improve the quality of peoples’ lives’.

SOHAIL CHOWHARY

Kickass: Sohail owns a martial arts school in Southampton and wants the other candidates to be 'wary' of him

Kickass: Sohail owns a martial arts school in Southampton and wants the other candidates to be ‘wary’ of him

‘I am calm and collected, but if they do come at me? I will bite and I will sting, and I will leave my mark.’ 

Sohail owns a martial arts school in Southampton and wants the other candidates to be ‘wary’ of him.

He says his biggest asset is ‘turning my laziness into a positive by creating smart solutions and simple shortcuts to difficult problems.’

He admits his biggest weakness is not listening to others when ‘on the very rare occasion I might be wrong’ but says: ‘I’ll always be the person that looks out for the little guy and sometimes that means that I will put emotions before business.’

Sohail is proud to have grown up in a council house and worked his way up and adds: ‘Owning a martial arts business means Lord Sugar can learn how to kick ass for free.’

VICTORIA GOULBOURNE 

Success story: Victoria is the owner of an online sweet business in Merseyside, which she began in lockdown and has since become a social media success

Success story: Victoria is the owner of an online sweet business in Merseyside, which she began in lockdown and has since become a social media success

‘My business took off quickly and with Lord Sugar’s investment I know it could fly.’

Victoria is the owner of an online sweet business in Merseyside, which she began in lockdown and has since become a social media success.

Thanks to her experience as a former flight attendant she has travelled all over the world and says: ‘I’m not afraid to take on a challenge.’

Victoria says she can be ‘direct and outspoken’ but puts this down to her passion and knowledge of what works.

She says she deserves the investment because she is ‘adaptable’ and has a ‘keen business acumen’ after changing careers in the pandemic.

The Apprentice, from Thursday 5th January, on BBC One and iPlayer 

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