Interviews

Winners of "The Apprentice" and what they're doing now

20 min read

04 October 2018

Reporter, Real Business

Which past-winners have gone on to bigger and better things?

If you can stand up to Lord Alan Sugar, you can handle anything right?  These past winners of the hit TV show “The Apprentice” had to put their business cards on the table, and bravely present their ideas to this most unforgiving of entrepreneurs.

So where are some of Alan’s best and brightest today?

Which winning contestants have scaled to great new heights, and what others have been fired from the business rooms of life?

Surely the latter is a tougher and far more brutal experience than any determined finger pointing that Lord Sugar can give?

Below are some of the best, brightest and downright weirdest Apprentice winners throughout the years:

Season 1 (2005): Tim Campbell, an impact business success story

Tim was the UK show’s first ever winner, and boy did he set the standard for future budding entrepreneurs on the show.

After coming out on top in 2005, and gaining that crucial employment contract from Alan Sugar, Campbell was kept on for an additional year at Sugar’s electrics company, Amstrad.

But the corporate life was not enough for the future mogul, who parted ways with Sugar to found ‘The Big Ideas Trust‘, a charitable initiative that helps young people forge careers in business.

Following this, another high-point came in 2012, where he was awarded an MBE for services to enterprise culture in the UK.

But an MBE wasn’t enough, It’s all about ‘the up’ for Campbell, who then co-founded digital marketing agency, Marketing Runners.

So despite winning the show back in 2005, no-one could accuse Campbell of being an old-fashioned entrepreneur.

Season 2 (2006): Michelle Dewberry, a brexit brigader

Source: Digital Spy

These days, Michelle Dewberry is often seen on television voicing her opinions on various political issues.

Although for us, it may seem strange that an Apprentice winner has become an impassioned social commentator, however, we can assure you that Lord Sugar sure isn’t.

Apparently, Dewberry’s courting of the press displeased Sugar following her winning of the show. Further to this, she didn’t perform as well in her job placement (this time at Xenon Green, Sugar’s energy company) as well as her predecessor did at Amstrad.

Most strange of all, Dewberry has announced her intention to run as a pro-Brexit MP candidate for her local constituency, Hull and West Hessle.

So with all the Brexit madness going on, perhaps Dewberry will make a name for herself as a politician.

Season 3 (2007): Simon Ambrose, a steady property guy

This winner gives the term ‘steady Simon’ a whole new meaning, but his slow-and-steady approach ensured his long-term success as an independent entrepreneur.

Ambrose worked for Sugar’s property company, Amsprop, for three years before deciding to go it alone.

Clearly, he built up a wealth of slow-burning knowledge and industry experience, as he set up his own firm, Ambrose Property Service, after leaving.

But steady Simon was soon to showcase his wilder side by expanding into the hospitality sectors and has since opened up restaurants in central London.

He has even chaired the London Contemporary Orchestra.

Season 4 (2008): Lee McQueen, a winner with experience

Unlike so many of the previous winners, McQueen had spent years carving out his own professional management skills before he even thought of applying for the show.

Leaving school with only a diploma, McQueen hustled his way into the recruitment industry before heading to ‘The Apprentice’.

By the time he found himself in front of the snowy-haired Sugar, he had already spent over half a decade working in recruitment, and for Capita Resourcing no less, where he was in charge of managing a team of over 30 people.

Clearly, his managerial experience impressed Sugar and McQueen emerged as ‘top dog’ in 2008. However, his road to TV-show-success did not run smoothly.

During the filming, he found himself as the project manager of a series of less than impressive schemes, and even lied on his CV about his level of education.

Even after his won the top prize, and started work for Sugar’s digital signage company Amscreen, McQueen had the cheek to ‘call in sick on his first day’ as Development Director.

However, Sugar clearly has a knack for seeing the potential in people, as despite this initial hiccup, McQueen soon secured a deal with BP that opened up a series of commercial opportunities with the behemoth’s numerous partners.

But if McQueen’s past revealed anything, it’s that he’s mighty ambitious. And only two years into the £100k role, he left to set up his own company.

In 2010, he launched Raw Talent Academy, an organisation that aims “to provide SMEs and corporate organisations with the vehicle to build internal sales academies into long-term staffing plans”.

Overall a shaky start, but an example of an entrepreneur that built up winning business skills despite a lack of formal education.

Season 5 (2009): Yasmina Siadatan, the ‘alpha-female’ who was (gasp) – a victim of sexism?

Source: Daily Mail

A little like her Apprentice winner predecessor Lee McQueen, Yasmina Siadatan was a budding entrepreneur in her own right before she applied for the show, having run a successful restaurant in Caversham, Reading with her brother.

After winning the show in 2009, she went on to work for Sugar’s company Amscreen in the role of Business Development Manager.

But a year into the position, the winner, (described by tabloids at the time as a ‘steely’ brunette and an ‘alpha-female’ character) fell pregnant after ‘engaging’ in an affair with a work colleague.

But Siadatan was not to return to Amscreen as she announced her second pregnancy shortly after her maternity leave had come to an end.

This was an awkward time for Sugar, who saw himself increasingly embroiled in the politics of office-based maternity leave upon saying that he believed that “maternity laws had gone ‘too far’” and were “putting employers off hiring women of childbearing age.”

Awkward news for the 31-year-old twice pregnant Apprentice winner then…

But Siadatan has (post-pregnancy) gone onto some new and exciting things. She forged a surprising business relationship with another TV entrepreneur, this time Dragon’s Den star James Caan, and began working for his private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw.

From 2013 she then turned her attention to helping out other promising entrepreneurs and their associated startups.

In what is probably her most impressive career move to date, she became the creative director at the Start-Up Loans Company, an initiative that offers millions of pounds worth of funding money to new companies.

Season 6 (2010): Stella English, from winner to disgraced ex-favourite

Source: The Guardian

After emerging victorious on the 2010 show, Stella went on to what should have been a promising career via a position at Sugar’s IT company Viglen, however, it wasn’t to be.

The experience was not only a failure, but it was also a well-covered drama ridden one.

She only stayed at the company for a few months, and left because she felt dissatisfied with the job position, in her own words, she claimed she was treated as a “glorified PA”.

But the drama didn’t end there, in 2013, she even took the business mogul to court on the grounds of constructive dismissal, albeit unsuccessfully.

Sugar even tried to sue her back to regain some lost fees, but he was similarly unsuccessful.

However, English has since had a career resurrection of sorts via a TV presenter gig on Sky TV show Crowdbox TV.

Season 7 (2011): Tom Pellereau, a winner who broke the business mould

Source: BBC

When it comes to ranking all the UK Apprentice winners, we must admit that Tom Pellereau is a special case.

But why? Well, he was the first winner that Sugar wanted to start a business with.

Since winning the show, Pellereau became an unlikely beauty entrepreneur and has launched a series of products such as safety conscious nail clippers, non-damaging gel polish remover, and hygienic makeup brush cleaners.

By combining the insatiable consumer lust for short-cut beauty goods and business (as well as scientific) innovation, his products took off on a global scale, and are stocked in British high-street stores such as Boots and Argos and further afield.

Pellereau, who has always been a passionate inventor and a self-proclaimed ‘ideas man’, uses independent laboratories to bring scientific grounding and expertise to his products, to ensure they are really as efficient and as hygienic as possible for customers.

No doubt, next time you venture into the beauty section in stores such as Boots, you’ll notice the array of Styl by Tom products available!

Season 8 (2012): Ricky Martin, an ‘apprentice winner’ (not a singer)

Source: Express

Don’t let the name fool you, Ricky Martin was a winner of the UK Apprentice, and not, ( in this case) the snake-hipped Latino singer.

The ruddy-cheeked biochemist rose up through the ranks of the show and was eventually crowned its winner in 2012, where Martin secured a £250,000 investment from business partner Lord Sugar and started his own specialist science and technology recruitment business called ‘Hyper Recruitment Solutions ‘.

Martin marked a change in the usual type of candidate that tended to win the UK Apprentice. As never before had we seen a winner, and such a highly qualified one at that, seek to combine the worlds of science and commercial enterprise in their post-Apprentice business endeavour.

To this day, Martin has stuck to his guns and continues to serve on the board of the business he founded with Sugar. However, he is also using his recent wealth to invest in a budding property portfolio alongside his main role at his company.

He also speaks in schools, universities and is a regular on the science conference circuit speaking about job opportunities in the science sector.

Season 9 (2013): Leah Totton, the physician on a business mission

Oh, it looks like we spoke too soon about the lack of medically trained candidates on the show.

Totton’s idea, namely setting up a high quality (and medically sound) cosmetic treatment business, ensured she was picked as the 2013 winner and received the £250k cash prize.

Thereafter, Totton and Sugar set up the business, Dr. Leah Clinic, together in Central London.

A year after it’s opening, the Irish-born entrepreneur told the Irish Post that the business had delivered on its financial targets earlier than expected.

Apart from setting up a thriving cosmetic surgery business in one of the greatest centers for urban wealth in the world, Totton is outspoken about ensuring best practices in the cosmetic surgery industry and wants to use her influence to ensure the sector follows medical compliance laws as closely as possible.

Season 10 (2014): Mark Wright, (not the TOWIE star)

Source: The Sun

Now before you start envisioning the Herculian jawline of the breakout star from The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE), this ‘Mark Wright’ is a little different.

The budding Aussie entrepreneur entered the show during its tenth outing and emerged victorious, clutching the warm soft palm of Alan Sugar who heralded his success with glee.

So what did Wright do with Sugar’s £250k prize money?

He only went and started his own digital marketing agency ‘Clime Online’! What a modern chap…

Since gaining his ‘Apprentice crown’, Wright has experienced some great success with his company, and having established digital hubs in London and Bristol, he expanded his brand to Manchester in 2017.

Season 11 (2015): Joseph Valente, a smooth named winner with a razor sharp edge

Source: BBC

The dishy season 11 winner may have looked like a pussy-cat, but he showed his business teeth soon after he accepted Sugar’s generous £250k offer to help start his plumbing business.

The company in question, ImpraGas, was not to be a dual-run affair for long, as the plucky young entrepreneur soon wanted to take full control of the endeavour, – without Sugar.

Now, you would expect the notoriously stormy Sugar to react with anger or resentment to Valente’s decision, and say something along the lines of ” Who does he think he is, I’m Alan Sugar, he’s just a silly t***”.

But instead, Sugar’s response to Valente’s ambitious move of independence was to congratulate him warmly, wish him well, and even suggest that he, daddy Sugar, would be there for Valente, whenever he needed him:

“I’ll still be on hand to offer any help and advice required. I wish Joseph and ImpraGas all the very best for the future and will follow their progress with much affection”. – Alan Sugar

So congratulations Joseph Valente, you’re the winner that conquered the indomitable fortress that is Alan Sugar and his business super-ego.

Season 12 (2016): Alana Spencer, a sweet winner that hit a ‘rocky road’

Source: Daily Post

Beating out stiff competition from seventeen other contestants, Spencer came out on top in 2016 and went into the sweet treats business with Sugar.

But only a year later, Spencer ran the risk of steering her business right into the centre of some choppy brand controversy.

In 2017, her ‘Ridiculously Rich’ cake label had to recall a number of products due to some discrepancies about allergy risks.

Just imagine having to ring up Alan Sugar –  and give him THAT  kind of lowdown?

But despite this stumbling block, the brand still survives.

There’s even talk that Spencer may be working ex-Bake off winner Candice Brown in the future, so who’s knows what the future will hold, and if it will continue to include Sugar’s sweet tooth?

Season 13 (2017): Sarah Lynn and James White, the latest winners

Sweet entrepreneur Sarah Lynn and recruitment agency owner James White were the winning pair for 2017.

This was the first time at Sugar invested in two different businesses in one show.

Both walked away with £250,000 each and were offered a 50% partnership in their businesses with Sugar.

The money helped expand Lynn’s ‘Sweets in the City‘ brand, a product that is now stocked in high-end retailers such as Harrods, whilst White was given a much-needed cash injection to expand his Right Time recruitment business.

All in all, the 2017 show produced some rather successful, and dare we say..sensible entrepreneurs, perhaps the 2018 finalists may be a little different.

We’ll just have to wait and see…