A MONACO marketing boss who spent a season as a racing driver, the owner of a cupcake shop and a property company chief who idolises Napoleon are among those aiming to win the latest series of The Apprentice.
The 16 wannabe business moguls are all hoping to catch the eye of show boss Lord Sugar when the hit series returns next week.
The candidates, vying to win £250,000 of investment from the electronics tycoon, will be put through their paces over 12 weeks, hoping to avoid being fired in a boardroom confrontation with fearsome Lord Sugar.
The first challenge will see the entrepreneurs tackle the task of selling a shipping container full of goods, from novelty gifts to household necessities, to London’s traders in just one day.
Ranging in age from 22 to 41, the contestants hail from a diverse range of business backgrounds, from catering, leisure and recruitment to property, medicine and academia.
Monaco-based Myles Mordaunt, 39, spent a year racing cars before moving into sponsorship, property and marketing, as well as having shares in a private members’ club.
He claims to be “business perfection personified”.
Also taking part is Luisa Zissman, 25, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, who has a cake shop. She once posed naked for charity and says she combines the sex appeal of Jessica Rabbit with the intellect of Einstein.
Zeeshaan Shah, who was brought up in Pakistan but is now based in London, began as a waiter but is now CEO of a property firm. Speaking about his inspirations, the 27-year-old said: “I take inspiration from Napoleon; I am here to conquer.”
The group also includes jazz singer and qualified make-up artist Natalie Panayi, 30; former teacher Jaz Ampaw-Farr, 41, who now runs a literacy company; and business analyst Jordan Poulton – who claims to have got his first taste of business selling a litter of kittens as a child.
He said: “I know what it’s like to struggle to feed kids and I know what it’s like to fly in a private jet.”
Lord Sugar’s advisers, Karren Brady and Nick Hewer, will be on hand to provide shrewd insights and cutting comments as they observe the candidates during their series of tough tasks.
Lord Sugar said: “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.”
For the first time in the programme’s history, the contestants will reveal the business ideas they are aiming to persuade Lord Sugar to invest in from the very beginning, creating additional pressure for catering experts to excel in food-based tasks, and those with the gift of the gab to win the sales challenges. This series will see them competing to showcase every facet of their business sense, creativity and leadership, including creating and branding their own flavoured beer and selling caravans.
The ninth series begins as Lord Sugar celebrates winning a lawsuit against former Apprentice winner Stella English. Ms English, 34, who won the show in 2010, lost her claim for constructive dismissal against the businessman earlier this month after complaining she had been treated like an “overpaid lackey”.
The tribunal decided not to uphold Ms English’s complaint of unfair constructive dismissal as she had resigned from her £100,000 role in Lord Sugar’s IT division Viglen.
After his win, the tycoon took to Twitter to write: “The tribunal case brought by Stella English against me and my company has been dismissed. A victory for the law against the claim culture.”
• The Apprentice returns to BBC1 on 7 May, with the second episode on 8 May.