Award-winning and critically acclaimed series The Apprentice returns on Tuesday 7 May 2013 at 9pm on BBC One for a ninth season, as Lord Sugar and his advisors put 16 new candidates through the toughest business test going.
Viewers will be treated to a double dose of boardroom drama as the second episode airs on Wednesday 8 May, with the series then continuing on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One.
Sixteen determined candidates will compete to stay out of the firing line for 12 weeks in a bid to win Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment. They must demonstrate business sense, creativity and leadership in order to impress Lord Sugar, Nick and Karren, but only one applicant will triumph and become Lord Sugar’s next business partner.
This year, the candidates will reveal their business ideas right from the start of the process, not only creating an additional level of competition between the applicants but also challenging them to prove they have the skills to succeed in the business they are pitching to Lord Sugar. Will those planning a catering business come out top in a food task? Or those pushing a sales–based business succeed in shaking hands on the best deal?
This year’s budding business partners come from a diverse range of careers and backgrounds, from catering, leisure and recruitment to property, medicine and academia.
East End boy and entrepreneur, Lord Sugar started from modest beginnings to build a global business empire worth millions. He says: “This process is not about a job, it is about me ploughing £250,000 into a business. This is an unbelievable opportunity. For me to choose you, you’ve got to be brilliant.”
Lord Sugar is once again joined by his trusted advisors Karren Brady and Nick Hewer, who are on hand to observe the candidates throughout the process and report back on the successes and failures within each task.
As Lord Sugar greets the candidates in the boardroom for the first time, he explains what he expects from them in order for them to succeed from week to week: “As you can see, I’ve got a pile of CVs here – it’s full of the usual BS. You know, ‘I’ll give 110%, I’m the greatest entrepreneur since sliced bread, failure’s not an option, I think outside the box, inside the bleeding box.’ All those usual clichés. I’m sick and tired of all that rubbish to be perfectly honest with you, because I believe actions speak louder than words. And it’s going to be actions that I’m going to judge you on. Now the aim of this process is to get your business plans in front of me. The tasks are there to test you and take you through every facet in business.”
The first task kicks off at midnight with Lord Sugar asking the candidates to sell a shipping container load of goods to London’s trade in just one day. From novelty items to household necessities, each team must find suitable buyers for their different product lines and the team that makes the most money from the day’s sales will be declared the winner. Split into boys v girls, which team will avoid a trip to the Losers’ Cafe in their first week? It’s a super-sized straightforward selling task but Lord Sugar throws in a surprise twist right at the beginning, proving that the candidates can never be certain what to expect from the multi-millionaire tycoon.
The candidates will be put through their paces every week by a range of challenging tasks, from creating and branding their own flavoured beer and selling caravans, to putting together a corporate away-day for some very big clients. At the end of each day they will go home to their luxury town house in Central London, enjoying a taste of the high-end lifestyle that a successful business can make a reality.
But, as always, it ends in the boardroom. After each task, the losing team will return to face Lord Sugar and battle it out to keep their place in the process, before one candidate will hear the infamous words ‘You’re Fired’.
The ever-popular companion show The Apprentice: You’re Fired! will also return to air immediately after the main series on BBC Two. Host Dara O Briain will reflect on the fired candidate’s time on the show, asking for their insight on their best and worst moments, as they are interrogated by a panel of business experts and celebrity fans.
Meet the Girls
Occupation: Retail Entrepreneur
Lives: St Albans, UK
Mother-of-one Luisa describes herself as confident, logical and outspoken and cites her greatest business achievement to be the ability to create new jobs through the success of her businesses. She lists her favourite business brands as Christian Louboutin and Virgin Atlantic for their strong brand identities. Her first job was as a Saturday girl in an estate agent and she now owns her own cupcake shop, baking website and electronics business.
Occupation: Entrepreneur and Make-Up Brand Owner
Lives: London, UK
Uzma describes herself as confident, creative and spiritual, though says she can lack patience. She has set up a non-profit organisation to help women reach out to one another in times of need and lists being nominated for an Asian Women of Achievement Awards as one of her greatest business achievements. She says the brand she is most inspired by is MAC, because they have created a product that most women think they can’t live without.
She says: “If I believe in something, I will go to the end to make sure it’s done.”
Lives: London, UK
Born in Northern Ireland, Leah now lives in London and is kept busy by her work as a practising doctor. She is passionate about medicine and health and says her friends would describe her as caring, kind and professional, though she can be too ambitious.
She says: “I’m very hard working and feel I can bring youth, vibrancy, enthusiasm and a touch of class to any business I’m part of.”
Occupation: Literacy and Education Company Director
Married mother-of-three Jaz began her career as a teacher and is passionate about children’s education and learning. She believes her strengths to be her tenacity and determination, while her weakness is that she has no time for those that don’t share her business vision. Her interests include stand-up comedy and lifestyle photography.
She says: “I’m half machine. I can process things at a speed that is out of this world!”
Lives: Bristol, UK
Malaysian-born Sophie says her greatest strengths are creativity and the ability to ‘think outside the box’, but her weakness is mental arithmetic. She first worked as a catering company waitress and at the age of 19, began running her own restaurant while still studying as a student. She is passionate about food and describes herself as innovative and intelligent.
She says: “I don’t have a multi-million pound business but what I do have is the raw talent, the drive and the competitive streak.”
Occupation: Medical Rep
Lives: Wigan, UK
Rebecca would describe herself as authentic, generous and adventurous, though says she can be very impatient. Now working in medical sales, her first job was in a Post Office shop. She lists Alex Polizzi and Mary Portas as business figures that inspire her because they are willing to take on any challenge.
She says: “I’m a pretty tough person. I don’t let people walk all over me in life or in business. And if somebody crosses me, it’s game over.”
Occupation: Dance and Entertainment Entrepreneur
Lives: Leeds, UK
A classically trained dancer, one of Francesca’s first jobs was teaching baby ballet at her local dance studios. She is now is the founder and director of a dance studio, a professional dance agency and a lookalike agency. She describes herself as determined, driven and fun, and quotes Debbie Moore and Arlene Phillips as the business figures she is most inspired by, for their creativity and vision. She cites being a hard-worker as her greatest strength, though admits she can be a ‘control freak’ at times.
She says: “I’m prepared to fight to the death to become Lord Sugar’s business partner.”
Occupation: Recruitment Manager
Lives: Rickmansworth, UK
Natalie’s first job was as a pub waitress and says her dad is her business inspiration, as he built his success from nothing through his strong work ethic. Her passions include fashion and money and she is also a trained jazz singer and qualified make-up artist. She says her friends would describe her as headstrong, determined and caring, though one of her most annoying habits can be interrupting people.
She says: “When it comes to business, I am the complete package and when it comes to sales, I’m the best.”
Meet the Boys
Occupation: Mexican Food Entrepreneur
Lives: Birmingham, UK
Tim lists his passions in life as food, travel, business and money, and the achievement he is most proud of is launching a business while still studying in his final year at university. He describes himself as happy-go-lucky, energetic and with a ‘never give up’ attitude, though admits he can lack focus. Moving up from his first job on a paper round to starting a leaflet distribution service before founding his catering company, Tim now wants to use business as a vehicle to bring new culinary experiences to people.
Occupation: Regional Manager – Soccer Centres
Lives: Altrincham, UK
Neil says he would be described as focused, determined and driven, by those that know him well, though his weaknesses include being overly competitive and very opinionated. He is a Manchester United supporter and plays football regularly in an amateur league, having played semi-professionally in the past. One of his first jobs was in telesales, which he cites as the role that kicked off his career.
He says: “I’m here to win. If that means being tough and making tough decisions, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
Occupation: Company Director
Lives: Cardiff, UK
Alex says his greatest strengths lie in design and calculations and he describes himself as passionate, hardworking and determined. He began his working life as a housekeeper in a hotel and started his first company at 19. He is inspired in business by brands such as Tom Ford and figures such as James Caan, and enjoys playing the guitar and sport shooting in his spare time.
He says: “I’m an old head on young shoulders. I believe that I’m the new breed of businessman that this process requires.”
Occupation: CEO of Property Investment Company
Lives: London, UK
Zeeshaan, who grew up in Pakistan, believes his greatest strengths are that he is an eternal optimist, street-smart and well-connected. He says his weaknesses would include bossiness and that he can’t do something if his heart isn’t in it. Starting his career as a part-time waiter, he believes his greatest business achievement is still yet to come.
He says: “I’m a ‘Great’ of my generation. I’m an innovator and leader in business. I take inspiration from Napoleon; I am here to conquer.”
Occupation: Historian and Property Entrepreneur
Lives: London, UK
Born in Athens, Jason says he has never been ‘formally employed’, instead remaining self-employed and a student throughout his career to date. His hobbies include gardening and croquet and he lists his passions as knowledge and language. He cites himself as a devotee of Question Time and says that the brands he has the most respect for are John Lewis/Waitrose and American Express, as they stand for quality and high-standard customer service.
He says: “Some people might come to this process with a game plan. I just feel my effortless superiority will take me all the way.”
Occupation: Business Analyst
Lives: London, UK
Jordan says his first experience in business was at the age of six, selling his family’s litter of kittens in the playground. He describes himself as optimistic, charismatic and calm under pressure, though he thinks he can also be unforgiving and finds it difficult to ask for help. He enjoys going to technology events and recording his own podcasts and is passionate about encouraging young people to start their own businesses.
He says: “I’ve worked in third-world countries and first-world countries. I know what it’s like to struggle to feed kids and I know what it’s like to fly in a private jet.”
Occupation: Health Drink Entrepreneur and Health & Safety Manager
Lives: Liverpool, UK
Kurt says his friends would describe him as intelligent, argumentative and ambitious. His first job was washing dishes as a kitchen porter and he says his greatest business achievement to date is running his own smoothie business after suffering many knock-backs and rejections.
He says: “I’m an alpha male; I always get my own way and know how to make people do what I want.”
Occupation: Marketing Company Co-Founder
Lives: Monaco, Monaco
Myles has lived in Monaco for the past 10 years and says that people would describe him as passionate, charming and determined, but he can be too much of a perfectionist. He was a professional racing driving for a short period of time and he now works in luxury brand marketing. He says the business figures that most inspire him are Bernie Ecclestone and Richard Branson, for their vision and commercial power.
He says: “I’m business perfection personified.”
After the first episode on Tuesday 7 May, The Apprentice will air on BBC One on Wednesdays at 9pm, from 8 May.