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The Apprentice is back: meet the 2015 candidates

Published 14/10/2015

Aisha Kasim: Aisha was born in Nigeria and moved to the UK when she was 15 years old. The owner of a hair accessories business which sells extensions, wigs and hair products, she has also invented a hair accessory which is a heated hair bun that curls hair and even wrote the jingle to accompany the product. She describes herself as hippy-ish, funny and quirky, and names Victoria Beckham as one of her business inspirations because she follows her passions which has led to her professional success.
Aisha Kasim: Aisha was born in Nigeria and moved to the UK when she was 15 years old. The owner of a hair accessories business which sells extensions, wigs and hair products, she has also invented a hair accessory which is a heated hair bun that curls hair and even wrote the jingle to accompany the product. She describes herself as hippy-ish, funny and quirky, and names Victoria Beckham as one of her business inspirations because she follows her passions which has led to her professional success.
April Jackson: Former Miss Jamaica, April was born in London, before moving to Jamaica and has lived in France and studied in New York. While living in Jamaica, she founded a successful event management company along with a children’s charity. She cites Skinny Girl Cocktails founder Bethenny Frankel as one of her business inspirations because of how she grew her company into a lifestyle brand. April describes herself as ambitious, honest and loyal.
Brett Butler-Smythe: Brett went straight to the Royal Navy after leaving school, where he worked as a marine engineer. He says starting his own property business from scratch is his biggest business achievement to date. He says his biggest strengths are being hard working, committed and trustworthy, and that he has no weaknesses. His attitude to business is ‘work hard, play hard, work harder’.
Charleine Wain: Charleine served in the Royal Navy for eleven and a half years before leaving the service to start her own hair and beauty salon and online clothing boutique. She is a passionate fundraiser and has raised over £20,000 for various charities. She cites hairdressers Patrick Cameron and Toni & Guy as her business inspirations because of the impact they made in the hairdressing world. She says her drive and determination are her biggest strengths.
Dan Callaghan: Dan’s first job after university was working for an MEP at the European Parliament in Belgium, where he lived for a year. He describes himself as bright, optimistic and cheerful. He cites turning his fragrance company around after a difficult few years as the business achievement he is most proud of. He names Jeff Bezos of Amazon as one of his inspirations, because he feels the company has redefined the way consumers see online shopping.
David Stevenson: David’s background is in sports marketing and his company specialises in increasing crowd attendances at sporting events. He says his greatest achievement so far was promoting a high profile football match between two women’s national teams at Wembley to sold-out capacity. He cites Elon Musk as his business inspiration because of the amount he achieved early on in his career.
Elle Stevenson: Elle describes herself as a ‘geezer bird’ and says she is effervescent, passionate and maybe ‘a little insane’. Though she’s the youngest candidate of the group, she says those who know her would say she is older than her years. As well as teaching herself fluent Latin, she lists her biggest business achievement to date as her previous role as Operations Director of a construction company at just 20 years old. She cites Taylor Swift as her business inspiration, calling her ‘the best businesswoman of the 21st century.’.
Gary Poulton: Gary spent seven years at a leading supermarket chain as a Programme Manager, developing new store sites. He describes himself as someone who likes to succeed in all he does, and his biggest achievement in business to date was delivering the largest property development programme in the history of the supermarket he worked at in 2010-11.
Jenny Garbis: Jenny graduated from university this summer, where she achieved the highest grades in her year for her Business Studies course. She describes herself as an adrenaline junkie who is only being happy when she’s busy. A keen feminist, she cites actress Emma Watson as an inspiration for her role in the recent ‘He for She’ campaign. She says that if she didn’t work in business, she would like to be in politics.
Joseph Valente: Joseph describes himself as successful, passionate and driven. He says he applied for the show because he feels it is his destiny to be Lord Sugar’s business partner. He currently runs his own plumbing company and feels having a business is like being a parent, as it needs undivided attention and nurturing, and that Hugh Hefner is one of his role models.
Mergim Butaja: Kosovan-born Mergim fled from the war-torn country to the UK with his parents and siblings when he was seven years old. Since the age of 18, he has been supporting his family by working in a range of jobs from sales to waiting tables. He names CEO of leisure retail chain The Range, Chris Dawson, as his business inspiration because of their similar backgrounds. Mergim says his determined attitude is his biggest strength and hopes he will inspire people who have lived through similar circumstances to succeed.
Natalie Dean: Natalie’s business background is in corporate management in the telecoms industry. She describes herself as a tomboy and has a passion for football, playing for a local women’s team and supporting Sheffield Wednesday. She says Liv Garfield, CEO of water company Severn Trent, is her business inspiration because she admires what she has already achieved in her career.
Ruth Whiteley: Ruth describes herself as positive, colourful and driven. Her background is in telephone sales, though she previously worked as a DJ on a mid-morning show for her local radio station as well as a stint as a court reporter. Her biggest business achievement to date was setting up the telephone sales teams for an online schooling company in Scotland and Australia, as well as expanding the growth of the sales team in Philadelphia, USA.
Sam Curry: Sam has been working as a tutor since leaving university, he has a passion for the arts and has taken part in numerous films and stage productions. He cites the fact that he’s always worked for himself as his biggest business achievement to date, and describes himself as loyal, honest and adventurous. Richard Branson is one of his main business inspirations because he agrees with the Virgin founder that you don’t need to be ruthless or cruel in business to succeed.
Scott Saunders: Scott’s business background is in sales, and he describes himself as sharp, motivated and obsessed with making his first million. He likes simple but effective brands such as confused.com and cites Richard Kiyosaki, founder of Rich Dad Company, as one of his business inspirations because he admires the way he does business.
Selina Waterman-Smith: Selina studied in the UK before setting up her own events company in Dubai. She incorporates her performing arts background with the circus into many of the events that her company hosts. She describes herself as feisty, strong and kind. She cites setting up her business in a foreign country as her top business achievement to date.
Vana Koutsomitis: Vana speaks five languages and grew up in New York but has also studied in Spain, France and China as well as living in Shanghai and London. She currently runs a networking site for finance professionals. She says she has been entrepreneurial since the age of seven, when she sold her old toys on the streets of New York. She cites Aston Kutcher as one of her biggest business inspirations because he has an eye for commercial ventures.
Undated BBC handout photo of (back row left to right) Richard Woods, Vana Koutsomitis, David Stevenson, Selina Waterman-Smith, Mergim Butaja, (second row left to right) Dan Callaghan, Sam Curry, Elle Stevenson, Natalie Dean, Jenny Garbis, Ruth Whiteley, Aisha Kasim, Brett Butler-Smythe, (front row left to right) April Jackson, Scott Saunders, Gary Poulton, Charleine Wain and Joseph Valente, the candidates in this year's BBC1 programme, The Apprentice.
Undated BBC handout photo of (back row left to right) Richard Woods, David Stevenson, Mergim Butaja, (second row left to right) Sam Curry, Joseph Valente, Brett Butler-Smythe, (front row left to right) Scott Saunders, Dan Callaghan and Gary Poulton , the males candidates in this year's BBC1 programme.
Undated BBC handout photo of (back row left to right) Natalie Dean, Aisha Kasim, Vana Koutsomitis, (second row left to right) Ruth Whiteley, Jenny Garbis, Elle Stevenson, (front row left to right) April Jackson, Charleine Wain and Selina Waterman-Smith, the female candidates in this year's BBC1 programme, The Apprentice.
Undated BBC handout photo of (left to right) Karren Brady, Lord Sugar and Claude Littner ahead of the start of this year's BBC1 programme, The Apprentice.
Apprentice newcomer Claude Littner

Lord Sugar, Karren Brady and Nick Hewer’s terrifying replacement Claude Littner have been assigned their latest batch of The Apprentice candidates ahead of the show’s highly-anticipated return.

Eighteen potential business partners - nine men, nine women - will be vying to win a £250,000 investment into their proposed new company, so expect plenty of showy displays of ruthless ambition.

The aspiring entrepreneurs come from a mix of careers and backgrounds, from hairdressing, construction, plumbing and telecoms to fragrance retailing, sports marketing, events management.

Despite the tough challenges that lay in store, confidence is running high. “Pressure makes diamonds. It’s something I responds well to, I think it’s go hard or go home,” says hair extensions specialist Aisha Kasim, while builder Brett Butler-Smythe insists he has “no negative or bad traits”.

Self-confessed “geezer bird” Elle Stevensen “hates anything mediocre”, plumber Joseph Valente describes himself as “the definition of success, the godfather of business” and sales account manager Megrim Butaja promises not to “suck up” to Lord Sugar.

The first episode will see the contestants haggle for first class fish and seafood in Billingsgate Market, before mass manufacturing their stock into lunch items to sell to Londoners.

The team that makes the most profit will avoid the drama of the boardroom and escape Lord Sugar’s wrath.

Other tasks to look forward to include selling pet products at the National Pet Show, party-planning, creating a new health snack, starting a DIY company and coming up with an advertising campaign for a new shampoo.

Tune in to The Apprentice at 9pm tonight on BBC One.

Independent

Undated BBC handout photo of Lord Sugar in front of the candidates fo this year?s BBC1 programme, The Apprentice (back row left to right) Natalie Dean, David Stevenson, Mergim Butaja, Richard Woods, Vana Koutsomitis, Ruth Whiteley, (second row left to right) Scott Saunders, Charleine Wain, Jenny Garbis, Brett Butler-Smythe, Elle Stevenson, Sam Curry, (front row left to right) April Jackson, Joseph Valente, Selina Waterman-Smith, Aisha Kasim, Gary Poulton and Dan Callaghan.
Undated BBC handout photo of Lord Sugar in front of the candidates fo this year?s BBC1 programme, The Apprentice (back row left to right) Natalie Dean, David Stevenson, Mergim Butaja, Richard Woods, Vana Koutsomitis, Ruth Whiteley, (second row left to right) Scott Saunders, Charleine Wain, Jenny Garbis, Brett Butler-Smythe, Elle Stevenson, Sam Curry, (front row left to right) April Jackson, Joseph Valente, Selina Waterman-Smith, Aisha Kasim, Gary Poulton and Dan Callaghan.

Independent News Service

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