The days are getting longer, the weather’s getting warmer and it’s almost time for Lord Sugar to begin his search for a new Apprentice (starts Wednesday 21 March, 9pm, BBC1).
Yes, another 16 would-be big shots have put their careers, reputations and sanity on the line in the hope of winning a coveted position within the belligerent boss’s business empire, and at last their identities have been revealed.
Above is a group shot of this year’s intake and the contestant’s résumés are below. So, meet this year’s Apprentices (or should that be “Apprenti”?) – and vote in our fun poll at the bottom of the page to let us know who you think will be hired, not fired, based on first impressions…
L-R – back row: Jade Nash, Duane Bryan, Maria O’Connor, Tom Gearing, Ricky Martin, Bilyana Apostolova, Stephen Brady, Adam Corbally
L-R – front row: Azhar Siddique, Jane McEvoy, Laura Hogg, Jenna Whittingham, Gabrielle Omar, Michael Copp, Katie Wright, Nick Holzherr
Occupation: Risk analyst
Bulgaria-born Bilyana is currently training to be a wealth manager for British entrepreneurs. The former head girl, who rollerblades to and from work, feels that her biggest achievement is her attitude to life and dedication to learning and working hard. She describes herself as positive and adaptable, but feels her greatest weakness is dealing with confrontation.
She says: “I got myself from a Communist block of flats in Bulgaria to the top of a skyscraper in the heart of the City of London.”
Occupation: National sales manager
Lives: Vienna, Austria
Stephen, who was born in Ireland, feels it is important to make every day count and tries to live life to the absolute limit. He loves learning new languages, reading and writing stories – but the cerebral salesman loves to be active, too. As a semi-professional footballer he once played in the FA Cup and he regards Muhammad Ali as his inspiration.
He says: “Enthusiasm is a huge asset of mine and I believe it’s caught and not taught.”
Occupation: Founder/director of a drinks distribution company
Duane says that his biggest strength is his creativity, but laments the fact that his attention to detail can be somewhat lacking. He enjoys going out to bars and clubs and says he is inspired by the Jaegermeister brand. He has met Tony Blair while doing voluntary work, and once chased and caught a hit-and-run driver trying to flee the scene of a crash.
He says: “I am a winner and I am a fighter, in order to be the best you’ve got to beat the best.”
Occupation: MD kitchen and bedroom furniture retailer
Michael admits that he can be impatient but says his biggest strength is his positivity. In his spare time Michael enjoys fishing, walking and boxing. Michael, who is dyslexic, regrets leaving school at 15 and not finishing his education, and says he admires technology giant Apple for the way in which it cornered the market with its products.
He says: “I’m better than unique; I’m naturally gifted in business.”
Occupation: Market trader
Father of two Adam says that he is confident and enthusiastic but that he is not ashamed to show his emotions. A keen sportsman, Adam enjoys swimming, playing football and cycling. He runs a wholesale and retail grocery business and manages his own property portfolio. He admires Virgin Galactic as a business prospect because it’s a world first, and offers people the chance to have their dreams come true.
He says: “I get too excited, but that shows my passion, it shows my drive and it shows my ability.”
Occupation: Director of a fine-wine investment company
Tom’s another candidate with a love of sports, playing golf, tennis and football for a Sunday League team, and watching West Ham matches in his spare time. As you might expect from his job title, his passions are fine dining and wine. He admires the brains behind interior design company Candy & Candy and online fashion outlet ASOS.
He says: “I’m confident, charismatic and some people say I’m quite good looking, so that adds to the bill.”
Occupation: Bridal shop owner
Former ice skater Laura is a mother of one who once skated with Torvill and Dean. While she admits to being stubborn, she says that she will go out of her way for others. Laura’s greatest inspiration is Michelle Mone, a powerful working mother from Scotland who created a business empire.
She says: “I am going to be one of Scotland’s next big exports.”
Occupation: Technology entrepreneur
Nick was named “emerging entrepreneur of the year” by Insider Magazine in 2010 and enjoys playing squash, snowboarding and cooking. Nick feels his intelligence is one of his strengths but knows his impatience can sometimes be mistaken for arrogance. Ideally, he would like develop his own businesses before becoming an investor in start-up companies; Steve Jobs is his inspiration.
He says: “I’ve got lots of ideas, I know how to whittle them down into ideas that will work and I’ve got what it takes to make them actually happen.”
Occupation: Recruitment team leader
A biochemistry degree led Ricky into a career as a recruitment manager operating across the UK science industries. He might be a professional wrestler and amateur bodybuilder, but he reckons his greatest strength is his people skills. Ricky wishes he had invented Facebook and once played tennis against Tim Henman at Wimbledon.
He says: “I truly am the reflection of perfection.”
Occupation: Co-founder of a food manufacturing company
Lives: Kilkenny, Ireland
Mother of one and animal lover Jane lives in Kilkenny, Ireland. She admits to being an opinionated workaholic but also claims to be honest and determined. She’s sporty, having played both hockey for her province and the Irish stick-and-ball game camogie for her county. Her role model is her grandmother, an empowered woman who has raised 12 children.
She says: “Anything is achievable if you have drive, determination, and a seriously good work ethic.”
Occupation: Business development manager
Former 18-30 rep Jade’s first experience of work was helping out at her parents’ caravan park as a youngster. She’s a resilient character who enjoys going to the gym and hosting dinner parties. She lists her business-minded parents as her role models and is proud of her father’s holiday park and her mother’s work as a funeral celebrant.
She says: “What I want is to be able to retire when I’m 45, but I’m such a workaholic that I’ll probably carry on until I’m 80.”
Maria opened her own Greek restaurant at the age of 19, taking inspiration from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. She claims to be cunning when it comes to business, and says that her persuasive charm helps her always get what she wants. Her passions are shopping and socialising, and Maria wishes she held the patent for cotton buds as they are cheap to make and used by everyone.
She says: “If you chuck me in the deep end I’ll swim, I won’t sink.”
Before entering the world of architecture, Gabrielle’s first job was helping at her parents’ fish and chip shop when she was 14. She learnt how to ride a bike last year and loves painting watercolours. As a result of relying on gut feelings, she claims that she never experiences regret. Gabrielle is a keen traveller and feels her persistency is one of her strengths, but her trusting nature is her Achilles heel.
She says: “When it comes to business I can be like an animal and I will roar my way to the top.”
Occupation: Founder and managing director of a catering and refrigeration company
Shark enthusiast Azhar feels his biggest strengths are his professionalism and integrity but admits that he gets restless very quickly. In his spare time Azhar enjoys martial arts, loves scuba diving and has two pet sharks. Azhar is inspired by Ikea’s founder Invgar Kamprad for running his business to a high standard.
He says: “It’s not who shouts the loudest; it’s who has the ability to control the conversation.”
Occupation: Beauty salon owner
Appearing on The Apprentice will be a culture shock for Jenna, who has never been away from home for longer than a week and can’t cook or clean. She’s a keen horse rider and has competed in numerous show jumping events, taking inspiration from her father who set up his own business building horse boxes. Jenna, who is dyslexic, is a self-described “people person” but also admits to being a bad loser and her ambition is to earn a million pounds before she turns 30.
She says: “My personality and character is ‘once seen never forgotten’.”
Occupation: Editorial and research director
Fulham fan Katie, who got married last year, is a gregarious soul who admits to talking too much. Her first job saw her washing up in a French restaurant at the age of 13. Katie wishes she had invented Heinz baked beans and says that she admires the charisma of Barack Obama.
She says: “I would call myself ‘The Blonde Assassin’. I let people underestimate me just so I can blow them out of the water.”