A tough talking teenager from Northern Ireland who “looks like a little angel” has promised to tear apart anyone who gets in her way in her bid to become the next Young Apprentice.
Don’t be fooled by her demure beauty, because ruthless Maria Doran is swapping the classroom for the boardroom for just one reason — taking home £25,000 of Lord Sugar’s cash.
When the new series of the Bafta-winning show returns to our screens next week, viewers will see the budding 17-year-old business mogul battle it out with 11 other teenagers from across the UK.
When Maria isn’t busy studying for A-Levels in business studies, drama and politics she earns money working in her father’s hotel and selling designer goods on the internet.
She has a passion for music, theatre and piano, plus brainstorming ideas for new TV shows, political news, charity work, and, naturally, shopping. “It would be the biggest mistake you could make to underestimate me,” said the Belfast student.
“I’m 5ft 1in and look like a little angel — but believe me I have the heart of a lioness and will take apart anybody that tries to mess with me.”
With a Hampstead mansion as their base, Maria and the other candidates embark on a series of tasks, designed to test their abilities to the limit.
Challenges include designing a new cookbook, sourcing props for the English National Opera, branding a hairstyling product and selling goods at Womad festival.
Young Apprentice insiders said the candidates will face the same cut-throat competition as the adult series.
Maria and her counterparts were selected from thousands of entrants after impressing Lord Sugar with their creativity, determination, entrepreneurial flair and smart business sense.
He has spotted something in all of them, but only one can succeed in becoming the next Young Apprentice.
Lord Sugar is laying down the law from the outset, advising candidates: “I don’t like teacher’s pets and I don’t like school bullies. This is about the real world. I’m not making you sit exams; the only grade you’ll get here is ‘F’ for Fired.”
Lord Sugar is once again aided by his no-nonsense advisers Nick Hewer and Karren Brady who will scrutinise the candidates every move during the eight weekly tasks.
Young Apprentice starts November 1 at 8pm on BBC1
James McCullagh from Portstewart, Co Londonderry, was runner up in the second series of Young Apprentice last year. He now works as an account executive for Saatchi & Saatchi in London. Lord Sugar’s aide Nick Hewer tipped him to be a future First Minister of Northern Ireland.