A former beauty queen, a builder and a private tutor are among the candidates hoping to secure Lord Alan Sugar’s financial backing in The Apprentice.
This year, a total of 18 contestants will be hoping to impress Lord Sugar and his aides Karren Brady and Claude Littner, who replaces Nick Hewer.
The popular BBC One show returns for its 11th series on Wednesday October 14, and in a new twist, the contestants will not be divided into male or female groups for the first show tasks.
Viewers will also be treated to a double helping of boardroom antics for the first week only, with the launch episode followed by another one on Thursday October 15.
Lord Sugar said the “process works”, and revealed: “I’ve invested one million pounds in all four winners and all four of those people are doing fantastically well and I’m expecting the winner of this particular process to carry on that trend”.
He described the £250k investment from him that candidates win as “an acorn which we want grown into a great oak tree”.
The first episode will see the business newbies being tested on key business skills of product creation, negotiation and selling.
The mixed teams are sent off to Billingsgate Market, the capital’s famous fish market, to pick up seafood at the best price possible. They then have to turn their stock into lunch produce and feed hungry Londoners while making as much profit as possible.
Other tasks in the new series will involve creating an advertising campaign for shampoo, selling pet products, closing real estate and producing a new health snack.
Meet the 18 contestants hoping to win Lord Sugar’s business investment:
30, inventor & hair extensions specialist, London
Key information: she was born in Nigeria, but has lived in the UK since she was 15. She owns a hair accessories business and says Victoria Beckham is one of her business inspirations.
Top quote: “Pressure makes diamonds. It’s something I respond well to, I think it’s go hard or go home.”
26, Jamaican boutique owner, London
Key information: Jackson is a former Miss Jamaica, who was born in London but has lived in Jamaica. She’s also lived in France and studied in New York. She’s founded an event management company and a children’s charity.
Top quote: “I’m Jamaican. We come first, we win on the track and we will win in the boardroom.”
28, builder, Plymouth
Key information: Butler-Smythe worked in the Royal Navy as a marine engineer, and later started his own property business.
Top quote: “I pride myself on not having any negative or bad traits about myself, they’re all good, they’re all positive.”
31, owner, hair and beauty salon, Plymouth
Key information: Wain served in the Royal Navy for 11 and a half years before starting her own hair and beauty salon, and online clothing boutique.
Top quote: ‘’I would describe myself as very determined, ambitious, and I always want to show that women can succeed in business.’’
23, director, fragrance retailer, Manchester
Key information: Callaghan landed his first job after university working for an MEP at the European Parliament in Belgium. His proudest business achievement is “turning his fragrance company around after a difficult few years”. He cites Jeff Bezos of Amazon as one of his business inspirations.
Top quote: “I’m just a generally all round quite entertaining person, I think. A lot of people laugh at me.”
25, owner, sports marketing company, Nottingham
Key information: with a background in sports marketing, Stevenson’s company speciality is increasing crowd attendance at events. He says Elon Musk is his business inspiration, and his proudest business moment was successfully promoting a high profile women’s football match, which sold-out to capacity.
Top quote: “Me and Lord Sugar will work together because you’ve got age and beauty and those two go hand in hand all the time. Sugar’s got the age and I certainly am beautiful.”
21, operations executive, construction, London
Key information: Stevenson is the youngest of the group and says she’s a “geezer bird” who is effervescent, passionate and maybe “a little insane”. She’s taught herself fluent Latin, and says a former job as Operations Director for a construction company at just twenty is one of her biggest achievements so far. She says Taylor Swift is her business inspiration.
Top quote: “I hate anything mediocre - I can’t be middle. I hate being the person that comes second... I’ve never been the person that comes second. I’d rather be the one who fell over at the start of the race and never make it to the finish line.”
34, programme manager, Nottingham
Key information: Poulton spent many years working for a leading supermarket chain as a Programme Manager. He cites his biggest business achievement as delivering the largest property development programme in the history of the supermarket he worked for during 2010-11.
Top quote: “I look like the nice, easy going, laidback Brummie but once I start doing my business, people know I’m the real deal.”
23, business management student, London
Key information: a recent university graduate, she reckons she’s an adrenalin junkie, albeit a smart one - who got the highest marks for her Business Studies course. She says Harry Potter star Emma Watson is her business inspiration.
Top quote: “You will see my name in lights - Jenny Garbis, don’t forget that. That’s going to be a global name. That’s going to be an entrepreneur everyone looks up to.’’
25, owner, plumbing business, Peterborough
Key information: Valente says business is like being a parent, as it needs undivided attention and nurturing. Hugh Hefner is one of his role models.
Top quote: “I am the definition of success, I’m a godfather of business and I’m here to make Lord Sugar a lot of money.”
23, sales account manager, Coventry
Key information: Kosovan-born Butaja fled from the war-torn country to the UK with his parents and siblings when he was seven. Since the age of 18, he has been supporting his family by working in a range of jobs.
Top quote: “Why am I a worthy business partner for Lord Sugar? I’d be a challenge to him. Everyone he’s met probably sucks up to him. I won’t. I’ll tell him like it is.”
25, corporate account manager, Telecoms, Coventry
Key information: Dean’s business background is in corporate management in the telecoms industry. She describes herself as a tomboy and has a passion for football, playing for a local women’s team and supporting Sheffield Wednesday.
Top quote: “If I set my mind to something, I won’t quit until I have done it.”
31, director, digital marketing agency, London
Key information: The only regret Woods has is not being a millionaire before turning 30. He cites Richard Branson as one of his inspirations.
Top quote: “I’m a Swiss army knife of bouncy skills, business skills, enthusiasm, I’ve got everything highly tuned and highly chiselled.”
47, owner, sales training consultancy, Harrogate
Key information: Whiteley previously worked as a DJ on a mid-morning show for her local radio station as well as a stint as a court reporter.
Top quote: “Lord Sugar might think I’m a bit gushing, he might find me over-zealous, but I think he’ll think I’m great.”
23, private tutor, London
Key information: Curry has been working as a tutor since leaving university. He has a passion for the arts and has taken part in numerous films and stage productions.
Top quote: “I’m an interesting mix between happy go lucky and adventurous and then quite logical and sensible. It’s a strange combination.”
27, senior account manager, sales, Hertfordshire
Key information: Saunders describes himself as sharp, motivated and obsessed with making his first million.
Top quote: “People do say to me they’ve never met anyone like me.”
31, owner, events agency, Dubai
Key information: Waterman-Smith studied in the UK before setting up her own events company in Dubai. She incorporates her performing arts background with the circus into many of the events that her company hosts.
Top quote: “I am strong-minded; I do like to be the leader.”
27, social media entrepreneur, Barcelona
Key information: Koutsomitis speaks five languages and grew up in New York, but has also studied in Spain, France and China. She sold her old toys on the streets of New York. She cites Ashton Kutcher as one of her biggest business inspirations because he has an eye for commercial ventures.
Top quote: “I believe this is a marathon and if you have stamina and if you do things with integrity, morals and direction, you can get where you want to go.”