But when it came to his boardroom decision, the Apprentice boss could not choose between the two and opted to fork out for both businesses, paying £250,000 for a 50/50 partnership in each company.
“Well, there I was. Torn, I just couldn’t choose between one or the other,” he said after announcing his unprecedented move. “The only fair thing to do was to choose them both. Thing is, it’s now going to cost me half a million pounds.”
He added: “This is a historic moment, I suppose, in the 13 years we’ve been doing this. And it’s really because of what I said in the episode. I couldn’t make a decision, it had to be both of them. They were two genuinely great experts in their field and I’m looking forward to going into business with them.”
The Apprentice, Taylor Herring, SL
Lord Sugar will now have a stake in James’s recruitment business and Sarah’s sweet company after both convinced the business veteran – and the show’s two advisors, Claude Littner and Karen Brady – when they pitched their business plans at London’s City Hall.
“I think you have got a problem because as it’s turned out, I think they’re both investable,” Claude told Lord Sugar. “With Sarah, I think you’ve got slow and steady, but with James I think you’ve got someone who’s going to go out and really go for it.”
After their unprecedented double win, James said: “I have always since I was a young boy looked up to Lord Sugar as a businessman and to now be his business partner is literally a dream that I’ve always had and for that dream to come true… it’s just very, very humbling.”
“I’m just shocked and amazed and so proud that Lord Sugar found enough in both of us to make a double investment,” added Sarah. “The future is definitely sweet and it’s going to be a great adventure.”
Lord Sugar will join Sarah and James on Rhod Gilbert’s You’re Hired on BBC2 on Sunday from 10pm with the episode available on BBC iPlayer afterwards.
The Apprentice is due to return to screens in 2018 – you can apply here to be on the show.