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The Apprentice: What time does it start and who are the contestants?

Eighteen candidates are suited, booted and ready to face Lord Sugar

Published 06/10/2016

Jessica Cunningham, Michelle Niziol and Grainne McCoy, candidates in this year's BBC1 programme, The Apprentice. PA
Jessica Cunningham, Michelle Niziol and Grainne McCoy, candidates in this year's BBC1 programme, The Apprentice. PA
Natalie Hughes, Alana Spencer, Aleksandra King, Rebecca Jeffery and Frances Bishop, candidates in this year's BBC1 programme, The Apprentice. PA
Rebecca Jeffery, Frances Bishop, Grainne McCoy, Jessica Cunningham, Natalie Hughes, Alana Spencer, Michelle Niziol and Trishna Thakrar, candidates in this year's BBC1 programme, The Apprentice. PA
Mukai Noiri, Karthik Nagesan, Sofiane Khelfa, JD O'Brien and Courtney Wood, candidates in this year's BBC1 programme, The Apprentice. PA

There’s not long to go now until we hear those two immortal words on The Apprentice once more: ‘You’re fired!”

Lord Sugar returns with aides Karren Brady and Claude Littner to judge this year’s 18 entrepreneurs in a bid to find himself a new business partner.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new series:

What time is it on and how can I watch it?

Catch The Apprentice from 9pm on BBC1 every Thursday, starting on 6 October (we'll be live blogging the launch). The shows are followed by You’re Fired on BBC2, hosted this series by Rhod Gilbert instead of Jack Dee. Head over to iPlayer if you have other evening plans.

Who are the candidates?

This year’s 18 candidates include 31-year-old Grainne McCoy, a makeup studio owner from Newry in Northern Ireland, Jessica Cunningham, owner of an online fashion company, Essex boy Courtney Wood and IT consulting company owner Karthik Nagesan, who claims that if he wanted to be like everyone else, he’d “have waxed [his] monobrow”. Really, with a motto like that, the other contestants are barely worthy of consideration. Hire the monobrow Sugar!

What is the first challenge?

The new series’ first task will test the candidates’ skills in negotiation and selling, with each team attempting to spot the rough diamonds among a stash of antiques and collectibles. 

Other tasks to expect throughout the series will see candidates devise an advertising campaign for jeans, manufacture a range of sweets, design virtual reality games and host “late night opening” events at well-known attractions.

Read more

Antique dealing task for new hopefuls in The Apprentice  

What does the winner get?

The winner secures Sugar’s £250,000 investment into their start-up plan and will work with him as a business partner.

Lord Sugar returns with The Apprentice from October 6 (BBC/PA)
Lord Sugar returns with The Apprentice from October 6 (BBC/PA)
Grainne McCoy, one of the candidates in this year's BBC1 programme, The Apprentice.
Frances Bishop Age: 25 Occupation: Owner, Children’s Clothing Company Lives: Doncaster Frances is the owner of a children’s clothing boutique and describes herself as talkative with a feisty personality, which she believes is what has got her so far in the business world. She wants to impress Lord Sugar with her strong positive outlook. She says: “I’m a pocket rocket. I’m quite fiery and live by the rule ‘kill them with kindness’.”
Dillon St. Paul Age: 37 Occupation: Art Director, Fashion Magazine Lives: Dublin, Ireland Describing himself as super-creative, Dillon is currently a freelance Art Director at a fashion magazine. He describes himself as talented, kind and very funny. He intends to be ‘Machiavellian’ about tasks and says he will tell white lies if he needs to. He says: “Sometimes batting the eyelashes can get you a lot in business. Hence, the mascara comes in handy – so they can see those lashes.”
Courtney Wood Age: 29 Occupation: Owner, Novelty Gift Company Lives: Essex Courtney designs and creates novelty gifts which he supplies to national and international retailers. He describes himself as fun with a positive attitude and he believes his confidence is one of his strongest attributes. He says he is not one to sit back and plans to assert his authority in the process. He thinks his cutthroat tactics will help him reach the top. He says: “How would I describe myself in one sentence? I'll give you one word: awesome.”
Aleksandra King Age: 38 Occupation: Owner, Business Consultancy Lives: London Aleksandra owns and operates a business consultancy company. She describes herself as altruistic and extremely confident, believes she has a gift for spotting a good business opportunity and can sell to anyone. She cites her mother as an inspiration as she is fluent in seven languages and has an ability to ‘get people’. She says: “Like the Tasmanian devil in the famous cartoon, I will torpedo my way through to the win.”
Jessica Cunningham Age: 29 Occupation: Online Fashion Entrepreneur Lives: Derbyshire Jessica is owner of an online fashion company and the Operations Director for a PR and marketing agency. She believes her positive helpful attitude will propel her through the tasks, and says she wants to get close to the other candidates to find out how they operate, analyse their strengths and weaknesses and attempt to use them to her advantage. She says: “A motto I live by is: there is no competition if you're already winning.”
Trishna Thakrar Age: 28 Occupation: Recruitment Agent, IT Lives: London Trishna works for a large IT company to provide internal recruitment services. She used to play football semi-professionally, and says her friends would describe her as engaging and funny. She believes her best business skill lies in her charm, but suspects her sensitivity could be her downfall as, if you cross her, she will not hold back. She says: “My only tactic is to be myself; this alone will make sure I win.”
Sofiane Khelfa Age: 32 Occupation: Senior Sales Executive, Technology Lives: Essex Sofiane works in a high-end retail store, negotiating technology sales with high profile clients. He says he has the ability to adapt, deliver and build lasting relations with people in business, but his friends would say that he can sometimes be overzealous. He believes when he gets down to business, his skills and personality will shine through. He says: “The best survivors in the world are the people who adapt, and I’m the best at adapting. I’m like a chameleon. I adapt to anything, anywhere, anytime.”
Alana Spencer Age: 24 Occupation: Owner, Cake Company Lives: Ceredigion, Wales Alana is the owner of a baking company and describes herself as determined, creative and charming. She started her first business at age 17, a chocolate company, before moving on to selling cakes. She believes she is an adaptable businesswoman who will not shy away from any task Lord Sugar sets. She says: “I am incredibly hard working, driven, and I'll stop at nothing to get what I want.”
Rebecca Jeffery Age: 31 Occupation: Owner, Design & Marketing Agency Lives: Greater Manchester Rebecca is the owner of a marketing and design business, working as both the account manager and creative director. She prides herself on being relentless and possessing an infectious enthusiasm, but admits that numbers and calculations are a weakness for her. She says: “People often foolishly mistake my enthusiasm for silliness or positivity for naivety. I’m proof that you can get things done without whinging.”
Mukai Noiri Age: 36 Occupation: Digital Marketing Manager, Fashion Lives: London Mukai has lived in over six countries across three continents and recently gave up his position as a senior communications manager to focus on his business idea. He believes his charm is one of his strongest qualities, though he is a straight talker which he thinks some people might perceive as being insensitive. He says: “I feel sorry for Lord Sugar because previous applicants have been weak.”
Karthik Nagesan Age: 33 Occupation: Owner, IT Consultancy Lives: Northamptonshire Karthik owns an IT consulting company and says his friends would describe him as a born leader who takes charge and blazes a trail. He cites his role model as Alexander the Great because he is a master strategist and a brilliant tactician. He believes he is firm yet polite, making him the ultimate ‘human magnet’. He says: “If I wanted to be like everyone else, I’d have waxed my monobrow.”
Oliver Nohl-Oser Age: 33 Occupation: Owner, Food Distribution Business Lives: Wiltshire Oliver is the founder and director of a sausage manufacturer which supplies supermarkets both in the UK and internationally. He believes his greatest business skills lie in his marketing ability and his powers of persuasion. When it comes to winning, he regards honesty as the best policy but says he won’t be befriending other candidates as he wants to focus on the prize. He says: “Sometimes I feel like James Bond when I’m in my suit.”
Natalie Hughes Age: 30 Occupation: Owner, Hair and Beauty Salon Lives: Glasgow Natalie owns and runs two beauty and clothing businesses. She considers her best quality to be her quick-thinking, but she is also a persuasive talker who insists that nothing embarrasses her. She prides herself on her ability to buy and sell with ease and believes she has the motivation to win. She says: “I started at a young age, I'm a hustler, I've got the hustler’s ambition.”
JD O’Brien Age: 37 Occupation: Owner, Beachwear Company Lives: London JD is the founder and owner of a men’s beachwear company. He believes he can make the best of any situation whilst still being a ‘good bloke’. He says he is going to put in the hard work and aims to make no mistakes along the way. He says: “I won’t suffer fools. I will get upset by other candidates who don’t know their arse from their elbow.”
Samuel Boateng Age: 27 Occupation: Sales Manager, Major Car Brand Lives: London Samuel is responsible for managing and generating new business for over 700 businesses across London. He regards his ability in developing new and innovative ideas to be his strongest business skill. He says he has excellent public speaking abilities and admits he will be ‘on the charm offensive’, but doesn’t want to seem an easy target. He says: “My creativity, my passion, my charm, and my likeability all roll into one, creating one perfect guy.”
Michelle Niziol Age: 35 Occupation: Owner, Property Consultancy Lives: Oxfordshire Michelle is the founder and owner of three companies in mortgages, property and lettings. She describes herself as straight-talking, passionate and honest but admits that she can sometimes be bossy and impatient. She says letting others take the lead could be challenge for her. She says: “I work 15 to 17 hours every day. 100 per cent, I'm a workaholic.”
Paul Sullivan Age: 38 Occupation: Owner, Marketing Agency Lives: Chigwell, Essex Paul is the owner and director of a marketing company specialising in finance, technology, construction and property. He is a self-proclaimed charmer but doesn’t think he needs a ‘USP’ to win; consistency and sincerity will put him ahead. He says: “I'll play the team when I need to be part of the team, but I'm here to win; I'm not here to make up the numbers.”

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