Life//Film / TV
by Matt Ayres
The overwhelmingly lovely Great British Bake Off might have just left our TV screens, but it’s about to be replaced by something much more mean.
In the tenth series of BBC’s The Apprentice, Lord Alan Sugar will blast the dreams of 19 candidates into smithereens with a single finger point and dismissive “You’re fired,” leaving one winning candidate with a £250,000 investment for their own business and the esteemed guidance of the Amstrad founder himself. Of course, we’re mainly watching for the string of business disasters and petty boardroom quibbles that always ensue when entrepreneurial egos clash.
So far 141 business hopefuls have passed through Sugar’s boardroom, some brilliant and some bafflingly awful and we’ve picked out 12 of the most memorable Apprentice stars and found out what they’re up to now.
Remembered for his reliably dapper appearance and eloquent professions of self-belief (“The spoken word is my tool” was one of our favourites), Raef was dismissed in week nine of series four. The unflappable gent has since appeared on a variety TV programmes, from Richard and Judy to Celebrity Juice. Nowadays he owns a property development company and has reportedly inherited a £6.5 million Mayfair flat from his uncle.
'Baggs the Brand' might be the most quotable Apprentice candidate ever, but not for the right reasons. “I’m not a one-trick pony, I’m not a 10-trick pony,” he declared during his stint in series six, “I’m a whole field of ponies – and they’re literally all running towards this job.” Despite his optimistic equine metaphor Stuart was given the boot mid-series. He’s now found tweeting @stuartbaggs and runs an Isle of Mann-based telecoms company called BlueWave Communications.
Luisa lost out to cosmetician Dr Leah Totton in last year’s final, but has since stolen the spotlight as a Celebrity Big Brother contestant and Twitter celebrity. The bio on her account (@TheLuluLife) claims that she is an 'outspoken party princess', as well as an entrepreneur, so perhaps Lord Sugar made the right decision by giving Leah the money.
Jim displayed unprecedented confidence during his appearance on The Apprentice in series seven. Persuasion was his greatest asset, making him one of the strongest sellers that the show has ever seen and leading to the coinage of his nickname 'Jedi Jim'. The force was sadly lacking, however, when Jim was fired after reaching the final four. He now runs his own business as a public speaker and sales professional.
Obnoxious contestants are often the most entertaining, and series one’s Paul Torissi was The Apprentice’s first true villain. Although aggressive Paul managed to impress Sugar with his tenacious business approach and was offered a job at his private jet business Amsair despite being ‘fired’ in week 11. He now writes regularly for Start Your Business magazine and has made made appearances on BBC Radio programmes, mainly discussing business.
Series two’s Syed could be considered Paul’s spiritual successor, taking the role of argumentative egotist until he was fired in week 10. Nevertheless his shrewd business approach and quick wit made him a series favourite. He now heads business operations as CEO of SAVortex, a company that specialises in high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryers.
On the other end of the personality spectrum was lovable buffoon Jason. A charismatic toff with all the business acumen of a Golden Retriever he managed to get by on charm alone until week eight, when he made Apprentice history by resigning as project manager mid-task. In a dramatic career U-turn Jason has recently started tweeting via @JasonMeetsWorld about launching a YouTube sitcom.
Ben became notorious for boasting about his scholarship to Sandhurst, but it was Sugar’s fantastic retort that made the lasting impression. "I was in the Jewish Lads' Brigade, Stamford Hill Division, trainee bugler, but it didn't make me sell computers when I got older!" he quipped, moments before sending Ben to the taxi rank in week nine. After The Apprentice Ben was trained by ex-Goldman Sachs trader Anton Kreil and now runs his Institute of Trading and Portfolio Management.
Although perceived as a dependable, consistent victor when she won series six, it’s all gone downhill for Stella since she quit the six-figure job and entered a series of legal battles with Lord Sugar. After losing her initial case, the judge commented that that "Ms English, instead of appreciating a job with enormous scope for advancement, had been more interested in a glamorous role and travelling in private jets." Sugar lost a subsequent case to reclaim legal costs, but in February this year it was announced that two contractors working for a failed events company started by Stella would be suing her for unpaid fees.
Unlike the majority of Apprentice standouts Tom didn’t come across as the typical bolshy business-head when he arrived on our screens in series seven. Nevertheless his inventive approach to each task gave Lord Sugar the confidence to invest in his ideas, ultimately making him the winner. A true inventor, Tom is apparently addicted to creating new products – since the success of his first, a curved nail file, Tom’s conceptions have ranged from a bowel cancer detection test to a children’s storytelling app called Timmy Tickle.
If the name Philip Taylor isn’t familiar to die-hard Apprentice fans, the name 'Pants Man' certainly will be. Indeed poor Phil will forever be remembered for donning the guise of a superhero in prominent Y-fronts and singing the jingle for a concept cereal called Wake Up Call. Since being chucked out of the boardroom in week seven of series five he has redeemed himself by creating a successful core training unit called Body Rocka. He is still in a relationship with series runner-up Kate Walsh.
The fiery runner-up from series two was seen by many as the stand-out contestant. Since narrowly losing out to the six-figure position offered by Sugar Ruth went on to present her own Sky One show, Badger or Bust, helping to turn failing businesses into successful companies. She now runs her own business consultancy.
Series 10 of The Apprentice starts tonight (Tuesday 14 October) at 9pm on BBC1.