Carina Lepore has won The Apprentice 2019, beating 15 other contestants to claim the top prize – a £250,000 investment in her artisan bakery and a business partnership with Lord Sugar.
The last 12 weeks have featured a gruelling list of mettle-testing tasks, such as organising South African tourism tours and running a corporate away day on a steam train.
In the final, Carina was pitted against recruitment company owner Scarlett Allen-Horton. Both candidates had to prepare a high-pressure business pitch, which was delivered to Lord Sugar and a panel of experts. As has been the case in previous series, previously fired candidates returned to aid both finalists in their task.
In the last boardroom segment of the series, Lord Sugar weighed up advice from his two aides Karren Brady and Claude Littner before delivering his decision.
“Shops, I’ve never had”, he admitted. “The only thing going for you is that it’s food and that when you look at the high street these days that’s all it’s packed with – food.
“I’m trying to think of the scaling up of your business, but I like the idea of more bread – so Carina, you’re going to be my business partner.”
Speaking to RadioTimes.com afterwards, Carina said: “I’m so excited, I cant wait to start building the empire. There’s going to be new shops in 2020. Hopefully get Dough’s Bakehouse in other locations.
“Me and Lord Sugar are thinking of sticking in a five mile radius for the instantly new shops just so we can transport the goods as fresh as possible. There is that artisan feel, and that family feel.”
But would the extra investment mean her bakery will start feeling more like other chain bakeries? “No,” she says. “It’s definitely not going to be going down that fast food route. That’s why I put Greggs on my business plan. I see Greggs as a fast food, you’re rushing, there’s not that feel of sitting in and ambience.
“That’s not what they’re known for and I wouldn’t want to move that way because I’ve got to stick to what I believe in. I wouldn’t want it to move to fast food too quickly. It is quick paced but it’s not going to be Greggs.”
The Apprentice is set to return next year