Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Let battle begin: Apprentice girls Leah and Luisa go head-to-head for Sugar crown

Luisa Zissman and Leah Totton are in the final of The Apprentice

Sixteen candidates. Two finalists. One investment. Lord Sugar's search for his business partner is almost over ...

Avid viewers of The Apprentice will find out tonight if perfectly-groomed Londonderry doctor Leah Totton can secure the tycoon's £250,000 investment to launch a range of cosmetic treatment clinics.

The 25-year-old is in the final of the BBC1 show along with baking entrepreneur Luisa Zissman. If victorious, the A&E doctor will be the first candidate from Northern Ireland to win the long-running programme.

After a gruelling 11-week journey, Lord Sugar has fired 14 other candidates and has admitted going into business with either finalist is "a risk".

Viewers will tonight see Leah and Luisa try to convince Lord Sugar that their respective business plan is the one for him.

Speaking ahead of the final, the Derry woman said she would not have applied for the process if she'd known how tough it was going to be.

The qualified doctor and cosmetic enhancement expert said: "I think it's been worth it for me because I've got to the final and have a chance of winning it – but I don't know if I could put myself through it again, I found it really hard."

In preview scenes released by the BBC, Lord Sugar is seen addressing the glamorous female entrepreneurs, telling Luisa she needs to explain her business plan better.

Meanwhile, he tells Leah she has to convince him he should be investing in something that is "completely alien" to him if he goes for her proposed chain of medical cosmetic clinics.

Both women then have to put their business plans into action to impress.

Leah selects previous candidates Francesca MacDuff-Varley, Alex Mills, Myles Mordaunt and Uzma Yakoob to help launch her business while Luisa selects Neil Clough, Zeeshaan Shah, Jason Leech and Natalie Panayi to help with her baking brand idea in the final task.

Outlining her concept, Leah said: "It's a medical cosmetic clinic and I want to start a chain across the UK.

"We'll be offering anti-ageing treatments, anti-wrinkle injections, facial fillers, and it will be a professional, ethical service and that's what I am really, really keen to get across."

Stressing she has never had any work done herself, Leah added: "I don't have wrinkles, I'm only 25 and they're not treatments that are aimed at my age group.

"They're anti-ageing treatments and at 25, certainly no – I have not had any. And I'm certainly not looking to have any in the near future."

Leah also said she didn't expect craggy-faced show boss Lord Sugar to become a client any time soon. He famously had some work done on the bags under his eyes, but Leah wisely answered: "I think Lord Sugar's face is fine as it is."

The London-based woman's efficiency impresses Lord Sugar's aide Karren Brady but she is seen to have some reservations too.

Karren said: "From the crack of dawn this morning Leah had very firm ideas from branding and website and logo.

"She's been very calm, very decisive, very clear about what she wants to achieve for the brand.

"She's gone very corporate, very safe, it's medical.

"The only problem is, it's a bit bland."

Once both businesses have finessed their branding, viewers will see them head back to the house for a night's rest before starting work the next morning on their promotional videos.

Then on the third day of the task, the teams head off to make the final preparations before pitching their launch campaigns to 100 industry experts and Lord Sugar.

The Apprentice Final is on BBC One tonight at 8pm followed by You're Hired with Dara O Briain at 9pm.

The Irish comedian will interview Leah, Luisa and Lord Sugar himself to discuss the trials and tribulations of the past 12 weeks.

They will be joined by all the candidates, Karren, Nick Hewer and a panel including Lorraine Kelly and Moshi Monster mogul Michael Acton Smith.

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