The Apprentice changed my life...

Some past candidates tell us what happened next...

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The Apprentice changed my life...
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LEE MCQUEEN

Before the show: Recruitment sales manager

On the show: McQueen won the 2008 series of The Apprentice, but not before some fibbing on his CV - and a performance of his patented “reverse pterodactyl” move during an interview - threatened to scupper him at the 11th hour

After the show: Helped launch new company Amscreen, with Lord Sugar’s son Simon, before setting up Raw Talent Academy, a sales recruitment business inspired by the Apprentice format

“I had a complex – and to a certain degree I still have – about my lack of education. People judge you. I made a mistake [in lying on my CV], I’m not proud of it, but ultimately The Apprentice just goes to show you that if you give people the chance, they can achieve.

“My new business invites the client - the Lord Sugar, if you like - to come and see for themselves what the candidates can do by putting them through business tasks and assessments, rather than one-to-one interviews or by judging them on qualifications and CVs.

“Out of the 16 candidates in my series, I’d say 50 or 60 per cent of them were only there because they wanted to get TV exposure… Don’t get me wrong, everybody that goes on The Apprentice has an ego, but at least I did it for business reasons. That said, I’d still go on Strictly Come Dancing - can you imagine me going up in front of the panel and weaving the reverse pterodactyl into my routine? It’d be fantastic.”


RAEF BJAYOU

Before the show: Entrepreneur

On the show: Debonair and charming, but almost fired in week one, 2008, after an incident with some fish. Recovered, then fired week nine

After the show: Entrepreneur; appeared on Celebrity Come Dine with Me and Celebrity Coach Trip

“I run Infinitate, a company selling home HIV testing kits in Mozambique, The Gambia, South Africa and Senegal. I’m also producing a play called Pierre and Marie. It’s the life story of the rather inspirational physicist Marie Curie. Hopefully I’ll be playing a lead role, but anybody who auditions who’s better than me, which they probably will be, will get it.

“And I’m working on a TV series, The Gentleman’s Academy. It’s Ladette to Lady for guys: taking individuals who are slightly rough round the edges, and propelling them forward. We won’t give them patronising lessons on how to get out of a car and hold cutlery, but proper skills to add value to their CVs: oratory, teamwork, how to host functions. Channel 4 has expressed an interest.

“If you appear on TV even for the minimum of 15 minutes, you’re suddenly perceived to be more interesting. You’re worth more if cameras have documented what you’ve said, even if those things were preposterous. Absolutely I’ve capitalised on The Apprentice, yes. One should not be in any way ashamed of that.”


DEBRA BARR

Before the show: Digital media saleswoman

On the show: Described as an “ice queen” and “six feet tall - seven feet with her mouth open”. Fired week 11, 2009

After the show: Briefly tabloid fodder when old photos of her in her underwear surfaced; now commercial manager for stockshifters.com

“As soon as I finished I had employers contacting me – one said, ‘I’m setting up an online business to help retailers and manufacturers clear stock.’ That was two years ago and I’m still here. I’ve got equity and a five-year plan to sell it.

“I wanted to buy my flat, which I did last year. I’ve got a nice car. There were things I wanted to achieve, and being an Apprentice alumnus has allowed me to do them a lot more quickly. I used it as a platform to get out and meet people.”

“I wouldn’t have wanted pictures of me in my underpants on Google, but it was out of my control. When I was 19, I’d had some photos done. I paid for them, so I thought I owned the copyright. But when a PR agency called and said, the News of the World have got them, I took legal advice and they said you only own a percentage. But it didn’t affect my career. And yeah, I did look good. I’ll remember that when I’m fat and ugly!”


KATE WALSH

Before the show: Licensing development manager

On the show: “Too perfect and robotic.” Lost grand final to Yasmina Siadatan, 2009

After the show: Presenter, OK TV!, weeknights, Channel 5

“When Channel 5 asked me to go in for a screen test, I thought it was a long shot, but two weeks later they offered me it. If it all ended tomorrow, the skills I’ve learnt - working under pressure, thinking on your feet – mean I’d have no qualms about going back into a job.

“I was worried about what Lord Sugar in particular would think. Although he didn’t end up being my boss, I didn’t want to let him down. But on reflection, I don’t think he’d have a problem. He’s on TV every week.

“I’ve got his mobile and email. If I’d gone into business, I’d call him up. But a nightly celebrity gossip show isn’t really up his street. I’d love to interview him for the show, but bear in mind I know the Apprentice process intimately. If I were him, I wouldn’t want to be interviewed by a previous contestant! I can’t see it happening."


RUTH BADGER

Before the show: Sales manager

On the show: Highly outspoken and soon known simply as “The Badger”, but surprisingly lost grand final to Michelle Dewberry, 2006

After the show: Runs own training firm and business consultancy. Presented Badger or Bust, Sky1, 2007

“On the day I didn’t win, I thought: I’m unemployable! But now I can do what I want and make as much money as I want. When I left Lord Grumpy-Chops, I launched The Ruth Badger Consultancy and it’s going from strength to strength.

“I have regular contact with Lord Sugar. I used to be in touch with Michelle Dewberry, but not any more. If you worked with someone for two months five years ago, would you still know them now?

“The Apprentice taught me how to come out of my comfort zone, and it put my feet on the floor. When I’m bored, I look at other former candidates’ websites and they say ‘I’ve got a business’, but there’s no phone number, no staff, no offices. What I’ve done is real, tangible.

“Have I got one of Syed Ahmed’s all-over warm-air body driers? The thought of anything produced by Syed being all over my body would send me into cold shivers. So, no.”


STUART BAGGS

Before the show: Ran Isle of Man telecoms company Bluewave Communications

On the show: Launched Stuart Baggs: The Brand on the 2010 series. Lord Sugar thought he'd glimpsed something of himself in Stuart, until he came unstuck in the interview round. Sugar labelled Baggs “full of s***” and fired him in one of the most brutal boardroom scenes ever

After the show: As well as running Bluewave, Stuart continues to work in the media, having made numerous TV appearances, not to mention a weekly Apprentice 2011 video diary for RadioTimes.com

“If you look like me you never get any female attention unless you’re on reality television. Reality TV has been helping ugly people get laid since 2000. So that’s probably the biggest difference, the amount of attention you get – and it hasn’t really waned for me...

“The Apprentice opens loads of doors. I’d always fancied doing stuff on TV and I’ve done everything from quiz shows to celebrity travel series Five Go to South Africa – to The Alan Titchmarsh Show! I’ve been all over the world with different people, doing different things - it’s been an absolutely crazy time."