Ulsterman aims to be Alan Sugar's next Apprentice
He’s an Irish cycling champion who worked in his father’s fish and chip shop from the age of nine. Now Cookstown man Jim Eastwood has quit the fast food business for the limelight — as a candidate in the new series of The Apprentice.
Jim (32) hopes to land the coveted role of Lord Sugar’s business partner when the BBC1 series returns next week.
He is only the second Northern Irish contestant in seven years of the show, following in the footsteps of stockbroker Ben Clarke in 2009.
Comparisons to the unpopular Ben — who was fired after nine clashes in the boardroom — are already shaping public opinion about the Co Tyrone man.
In a statement released ahead of the first episode, which airs on May 10, Jim said he was ready for a challenge.
“I'm not a show pony or a one-trick pony, I'm not a jack-ass or a stubborn mule, and I'm definitely not a wild stallion that needs to be tamed,” he said.
“I am the champion thoroughbred that this process requires.”
Jim, a sales and marketing manager, attended St Mary’s Grammar School in Magherafelt and went on to study at the University of Ulster.
He describes himself as “driven, self-motivated and an eternal optimist”, and claims his idol is Virgin guru Richard Branson.
His athletic achievements include winning an all-Ireland cycling championship during his teens.
In Cookstown, friends and residents said they were optimistic about the local man’s chances of business success.
Jim’s father still runs Eastwood’s chip shop on the main street in the town and his family are well known in the area.
A schoolfriend from St Mary’s Grammar School said Jim had been “outgoing and very popular” as a teenager.
“When I first heard he was on the show I was really shocked, but thinking about it he is just the type to win it,” she said.
“He was a lads’ lad at school, very handsome and good with the teachers as well as pupils.
“Jim was always going places — he’s a bit of a charmer with a real gift of the gab.”
Cookstown councillor Tony Quinn said he was sure Jim would make it through the competition without facing Lord Sugar’s wrath.
“Jim has a strong personality and would be very suitable for the show,” he said.
“He’s got a good business approach and is an intelligent young guy.”
This series sees Lord Sugar joined by Karren Brady and Nick Hewer as he whittles down contestants competing for a £250,000 cash investment.
The wannabes will be set a series of tasks including designing a mobile phone application, creating a new pet food and launching a magazine.
Jim joins 15 other hopefuls taking part in the show, including former actress Felicity Jackson and market stall worker Edna Abgarha.
The first episode airs on May 10 at 9pm on BBC1.