Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014, bagging a whopping £250,000 business investment from the boss of the boardroom, Lord Sugar.
The impressive lump of cash will enable Mark to launch his internet business, Climb Online, which (among other things) helps small and medium-size businesses get their websites higher up search engine rankings.
It was a tight (ba-dum-dum, tssh!) contest with eventual runner-up Bianca Miller, whose hosiery business offers women a greater range of skin tone tights.
Ahead of the final decision, both candidates had the chance to impress Lord Sugar one last time, launching their respective businesses in tonight’s final episode.
There were some recognisable faces back to help out. Semi-finalist Daniel Lassman returned (on Bianca’s team, of course – “I’ve got a chance to beat Mark here,” he grinned), Solomon Akhtar and James Hill were doing what they do best over on Team Mark – choreographing guys in morph suits to dance around.
Sanjay Sood Smith was also back on Mark’s team, as was Sarah Dales who didn’t once mention anything about cutting up lemons. Meanwhile, Katie Bulmer-Cooke, Felipe Alviar-Baquero and Lauren Riley helped give Bianca’s idea legs (literally, they had a car full of them).
The two Project Managers quickly got down to the job of launching their ideas Climb Online and True Skin. Promotional videos were made, market research collected (and, of course, widely ignored), packaging and logos were whipped into shape. It was all going on.
Both candidates had to deliver a pitch to a ballroom full of industry experts, as well as fend off questions about the nitty-gritty details of their plans. Mark proved his winning credentials by avoiding criticism that his business idea was old-fashioned, quipping to a soon-to-be competitor that he’d never even heard of him.
Then it was back to the boardroom for one last grilling. Sugar was armed with enough jokes to keep us going until next series: did James know SEO wasn’t the search for Thomas the Tank? Had Felipe ever finished putting that paper skeleton together..?
But eventually, it was all eyes on the boss of the boardroom for that all important result.
He had concerns that both businesses would send his £250,000 up in smoke. “I’m not Sugar bank,” he asserted. There’d be “no sob stories” about running out of money. “You’ve got to make it work on the £250,000 investment.”
“I’m torn between two industries,” he admitted to aides Nick Hewer and Karren Brady. “They’re both credible.”
Nick was backing the hosiery, earlier joking he’d had “minor palpitations” watching the tights models do their thing. “Bianca’s got a great concept, you are a product man, you always have been,” he urged Lord Sugar. “You know full well if you ramp up production, in volume, drop the price, market it correctly – you’ve done it time and time again – I think it’s a goer, I really do.”
But Karren was sure of Team Mark. “What you’re getting with Mark is an exceptional individual, his USP is himself,” she argued. “I’ve seen him manage a team really well. He will get the best people he works with. All he needs to start his business, Alan, is a telephone. He knows this business inside and out and he won’t need a lot of hand-holding.”
And, ten weeks of tasks later, it was Mark that won out, as Lord Sugar puts his business weight behind Climb Online.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Mark tells RadioTimes.com of the win. “I can’t wait to get stuck in next year.
“There were a couple of shakes in the boots when I thought I wouldn’t win it, but I was always very confident with myself and the business plan.”
Lord Sugar’s hunt for his next Apprentice, returns next year on BBC1