BBC The Apprentice's return is just around the corner and 16 more people are going head to head in a bid to win Lord Alan Sugar's £250,000 investment. The popular series once again sees aides Karren Brady and former winner Tim Campbell help Lord Sugar to find his next business partner, there's also a brief appearance from fan favourite Claude Littner in the first two episodes.
With its first series airing in 2005, The Apprentice has become a fan favourite TV show and has gifted viewers with many memorable contestants. Over the years, the likes of 'Queen of Mean' Katie Hopkins, the eccentric Ryan-Mark Parsons and Celebs Go Dating's Navid Sole have all tried and failed to secure Lord Sugar's investment.
With its 17th series on the way, what better time to look back at some of The Apprentice's former winners. These are the people who truly had what it takes to be hired by Lord Sugar. For more showbiz and television stories get our newsletter here.
Read more: BBC The Apprentice: What is the start date for the 2023 series?
Series 16: Harpreet Kaur
2022 winner Harpreet Kaur impressed Lord Sugar with her desserts parlour business, Oh So Yum. The business star who lives in West Yorkshire has grown her business from strength to strength since winning the show.
In August 2022 she opened another Oh So Yum dessert parlour in Bradford and since leaving the show began dating fellow The Apprentice candidate Ashkay Thakrar. The pair met while on the show in 2022 and went official with their relationship on Instagram in August 2022.
This year also saw the series return after a two-and-abit year break, thanks to the pandemic.
Series 15: Carina Lepore
Lord Sugar crowned Carine Lepore and her artisan bakery Dough Bakehouse winners in 2019. In September 2020 she opened her second bakery in Beckenham, alongside her bakery in Herne Hill.
Series 14: Sian Gabbidon
Sian Gabbidon won in 2018 with her swimwear line Sian Marie already established before she went on the show. The brand has since expanded to be sold through popular online fashion hotspot ASOS and sells party clothes and loungewear as well.
Her swimsuits have been worn by a range of famous stars including Michelle Keegan and Maura Higgins. Sian also has her own Apprentice podcast.
Series 13: Sarah Lynn and James White
Series 13 in 2017 was the first and only year so far to see joint winners, Sarah Lynn and James White. James used his money on his Right Time Recruitment company, which he originally set up in 2016.
However, it reportedly struggled with 'unfortunate setbacks' in the first few months and it is also reported that James had a fall out with Lord Sugar. Sarah used her cash prize to launch her confectionary company called Sweets in the City. It appears to have been a huge success and is available in WHSmiths, Holland & Barrett and Waitrose.
Series 12: Alana Spencer
Welsh businesswoman Alana won in 2016 with her luxury cake company Ridiculously Rich by Alana. Her business boomed reaching annual sales of £500,000, suports almost 50 franchisees and she even has a YouTube baking channel.
Recently she has had to temporarily close her Aberystwyth cafe for the winter. Posting the message to her 50.5K followers on Instagram, the entrepreneur, who regularly features in Wales' - and the UK's - many summer food festivals and Christmas markets, wrote alongside a stormy picture of the business's first 'By The Sea' store front: "With the weather getting more grizzly, the storms getting more fierce and the days getting darker we have made the decision to close Aberystwyth cafe by the sea until 2023. With the exception of a few days around Christmas time (dates tbc)."
Series 11: Joseph Valente
After narrowly edging out co-finalist Vana Koutsomitis to win in 2015, Valente used Sugar's £250,000 investment to expand his gas and heating business, ImpraGas. He has said the funds enabled him to take on more staff, update technology and open four more offices around the UK. Lord Sugar left the company in 2018, after Joseph bought back all his shares.
He later sold the business and is now the CEO of his company Trade Mastermind, which gives advice and training to businesses in the construction industry. He also penned his own book which was a bestseller on Amazon called Expelled from the Classroom to Billionaire Boardroom.
Another star of the series was Welsh beauty salon owner Charleine Wein, who was desperate to be the first Welsh winner. It didn't work out but that hasn't stopped her having plans to expand her business.
She revealed after being fired that a private investor, impressed by her vitality and business acumen on the show, has pledged to invest £250,000 in her expansion plans which also involve her moving into dress designing.
Series 10: Mark Wright
Aussie Mark dangled the 'digital era' carrot to Lord Sugar who invested £250,000 into his new search engine optimisation firm, Climb Online, which turned a profit in its first year of trading.
The confident 25-year-old from Down Under, who used to psych out fellow 2014 candidates by not packing his suitcase before trips to the infamous boardroom, was the tenth winner of The Apprentice and was a 50/50 shareholder at Climb Online alongside Lord Sugar. Mark sold Climb Online in November 2022, but said he would be staying on as a shareholder and board member.
Series nine: Leah Totton
Leah from Londonderry in Northern lreland was the third winner to pick up a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar who is now an equal shareholder in her cosmetic skin clinic based in Moorgate, London. She won in 2013.
Leah, a qualified doctor and now one of the UK's youngest cosmetic surgeons, offers anti-ageing treatments, laser hair removal and effective alternatives to surgical liposuction through her clinic which is appropriately named Dr Leah. Leah has successfully set up sites in central London, Moorgate and Loughton, Essex.
Series eight: Ricky Martin
The former pro wrestler who famously dubbed himself 'the reflection of perfection' won over Lord Sugar in 2012 with his business plan for a specialist science and technology recruitment company.
Today they are partners in Hyper Recruitment Solutions with Ricky managing the day-to-day running of the firm. Ricky is also a dad to two children with his wife Gemma, with the pair welcoming daughter Olivia in August 2020.
Series seven: Tom Pellereau
Tom was the first winner of The Apprentice in its new format where, instead of a job, Lord Sugar awarded his champion a £250,000 investment into their own business. This was in 2011.
Known by his moniker 'Inventor Tom', he is involved in numerous innovative products including the Stylfile, the extra safe baby feeding brand Babisil, as well as a screen to prevent damage to musicians’ ear drums.
Tom's victory in The Apprentice came despite him being the worst-performing winner in the show's history losing eight of the eleven weekly tasks. He now runs a beauty accessories company with Lord Sugar called AVENTom.
Series six: Stella English
Series six, 2010, winner Stella made the headlines for taking Lord Sugar to court for constructive dismissal – a case she ultimately lost. She had initially impressed on the show and was tipped for triumph from start to finish, so it was little surprise she was hired and rewarded with a job at Lord Sugar's Viglen IT company.
However, Stella quickly became disillusioned in her role and described herself as an 'overpaid lackey' on £100,000 a year doing 'menial' jobs. She now works as a host on Crowd Box, the world’s first crowd funding TV channel, and says she has no regrets with how her Apprentice experience concluded. Stella found happiness with snooker player boyfriend Ali Carter in 2016 and they got pregnant in 2017.
Series five: Yasmina Siadatan
Yasmina was second favourite in 2009 to Kate Walsh in a hotly contested series five final but overcame the odds to win a £100,000 job at Lord Sugar's Amscreen Healthcare division, working alongside his son Simon. After a year in the role, Yasmina went on maternity leave but never fully returned to work after falling pregnant again just months after giving birth to her first child.
She resigned in 2011 to concentrate on her family and these days, she is the creative director of Start Up Loans – a company that provides mentoring and finance to 60,000 entrepreneurs and is funded by the UK Government. She also co-owns the Mya Lacarte restaurant in Reading, which specialises in produce grown in Britain. Yasmina currently helps run a fintech company called Dynamic Planner based in Reading.
Series four: Lee McQueen
In 2008 Lee was infamously chosen to be Lord Sugar’s apprentice in series four despite lying on his CV about the amount of time he spent at university. He survived that and also managed to survive calling in sick on his first day at Amscreen before going on to spend two years at the company as development director in 'digital signage'.
In 2010 he set up a recruitment and training company called Raw Talent Academy based in Oxfordshire. He has also developed Talent Hub, a division of the business which specialises in experienced sales people.
Series three: Simon Ambrose
2007 winner Simon worked in the Amsprop Estates division but decided to walk away from the £100,000-a-year job to pursue a variety of interests including investing in a London restaurant, members club and art gallery and running an events production company as well as working as a property developer.
Series three is now also renowned as 'the one with that Katie Hopkins' in it. He is also believed to be serving as a chairman of the London Contemporary orchestra.
Series two: Michelle Dewberry
Michelle was the second winner of The Apprentice in 2006 fending off the no-nonsense Ruth Badger in a fiercely contested final. However her career working for Lord Sugar was short-lived and he later commented that Michelle, and series six winner Stella, are the only apprentices to leave their new jobs before the end of the initial 12-month contracts – though Michelle and Lord Sugar did part on good terms.
These days, in addition to appearing on Sky News alongside host Eamonn Holmes, Michelle works with the Sun newspaper on their unemployment roadshow, runs two businesses and is about to launch a new business in the New Year aimed at helping job-seekers get back into work.
She recently gave birth to a baby boy and stood as an independent pro-Brexit candidate in the 2017 general election in Hull West and Hessle, but failed to win.
Series One: Tim Campbell
In 2005 Tim became the first ever winner of The Apprentice landing a job at Lord Sugar's Amstrad division but two years later, he left his 'comfort zone' to setup the social enterprise Bright Ideas Trust designed to help young entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds. The self-confessed 'Frank Bruno of the business world' was quickly becoming a heavyweight in the world of social enterprise.
In the 2012 New Year Honours List, he was made an MBE for his services to enterprise culture. He is also currently London’s Ambassador for Training and Enterprise, appointed by the former Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
In 2022 Tim stepped up and was Lord Sugar's assistant on The Apprentice after Claude Littner was injured in a bike accident. Claude has resumed as aide for the 2023 series.
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