New look Apprentice: Meet the candidates vying for £250,000

New look Apprentice: Meet the candidates vying for £250,000Tuesday, May 03, 2011 by Matt

Lord Sugar returns to our screens with a seventh series of The Apprentice next Tuesday - and there's an interesting new twist. Instead of handing the winner a £100,000-a-year job in his business empire, Lord Sugar will invest £250,000 in their business idea.

While an apprenticeship under Lord Sugar has proven much coveted, there's always been a contradiction in the entrepreneurial aspirations of the show's candidates and the prize of ultimately working for someone else.

Indeed, it's telling that few of the previous six winners have hung around for too long, with most leaving to do their own thing.

So with a shift to a truly entrepreneurial prize, will Lord Sugar be searching for a different set of skills in this year's winning individual?

Apparently so. Makers Talkback Thames insists candidates have been 'selected for their entrepreneurial flair' and claims this year's tasks will be more aligned with the skills needed to start a business from scratch.

As you'd only expect, Lord Sugar has his own inimitable take on what he's looking for in a business partner. Here's what he tells the candidates in episode one:

"I'm going to inject £250,000 worth of cash and value into a business, your business, and you're going to run it. And I say you're going to run it because don't expect me to be doing all the work - I'm not looking for a 'sleeping' partner.

"I'm not Saint Alan, the patron saint of bloody losers... You can look at it as a bit of an uncivil partnership, so to speak. I want you to treat this first task as if it's your own business. Here's something to note, this is an investment, and I want some return on my money."

We've a week to wait until we see if the new look Apprentice really is geared to finding the next Lord Alan, but for now, let's meet the candidates:

The Apprentices (above):(l-r - back row) Zoe Beresford, Jim Eastwood, Ellie Reed, Leon Doyle, Tom Pellereau,Edward Hunter, Vincent Disneur, Felicity Jackson, Glenn Ward, Edna Agbarha(l-r - front row) Melody Hossaini, Gavin Winstanley, Helen Milligan, Susan Ma, Alex Britez Cabral, Natasha Scribbins


The girls

Edna Agbarha

Age: 36
Occupation: Business psychologist
Lives:  London

One of 10 siblings, London-born Edna rose from working as a teenager on her uncle's Covent Garden market stall to becoming a business psychologist and coach. Edna holds a degree in Psychology, two masters and enjoys cycling in her free time. 

She says: "Weak people in business are a waste of space and a limp handshake is unforgiveable."


Ellie Reed

Age: 33
Occupation: Managing director - construction recruitment
Lives: Yorkshire

The Bradford-born entrepreneur went from paper round to starting her own 'highly successful' recruitment business. Golf lover Ellie describes herself as 'positive, fun and driven' and once chased a burglar out of her house at 17.

She says: "I don't like lazy people... dole dossers that don't want to work. I don't like posh kids who have everything on a plate."


Felicity Jackson

Age: 23
Occupation: Entrepreneur - creative arts
Lives: London

Felicity worked at a hairdressers as a teenager before going into children's entertainment and eventually setting up her own company specialising in career development for actors. An avid fan of soaps and a trained actress, Felicity compares herself to MOBO founder Kanya King and is inspired by the T-Mobile brand.

She says: "Lord Sugar will probably find it difficult to ever say anything negative to me because I always turn it round to a positive."


Helen Louise Milligan

Age: 30
Occupation: Executive assistant to CEO 
Lives: Northumberland

Stockport-born Helen describes herself as 'calm, loyal and tenacious' and enjoys reading in her free time. A keen swimmer, she studied Law at university and climbed the ranks from part-time waitress to managing a restaurant before landing her role as executive assistant to the CEO of Greggs bakery.

She says: "I see my job as my complete life. I work 24/7. There isn't a cut off."


Melody Hossaini

Age: 26
Occupation: Founder & director - Global Youth Consultancy Business
Lives: Midlands

Born in Iran, Melody lived in four different countries before settling in the UK. Melody who speaks five languages, set up a renowned UK youth organisation at the age of 13 and has won the 'Woman of the Future' award for her voluntary work. Global Youth Sector Entrepreneur Melody has previously worked with 12 Nobel peace prize winners including Desmond Tutu, Dalai Lama, Sherin Ebadi and was trained on climate change by Al Gore.

She says: "Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon."


Natasha Scribbins

Age: 31
Occupation: Divisional manager - Recruitment
Lives: London

German born Natasha achieved only five GCSEs but went on to graduate from university with a degree in International Hospitality Management. Happy to get her hands dirty Natasha worked cleaning the bakeries of a major retail chain at the age of 15 before venturing into business. An avid fitness fanatic, Natasha is inspired by the Nike brand for their representation of women in sport.

She says:"I'm like a really fine tuned switch. If I need to turn it down then I turn it down. If I need to turn it up then I turn it up."


Susan Ma

Age: 21
Occupation: Natural skincare entrepreneur
Lives: Croydon

Born in Shanghai, adrenaline junkie Susan moved to Australia at the age of six before eventually settling in London aged 13. With her mum having no grasp of English, Susan succeeded in getting herself into a school despite her young age and went on to study Philosophy and Economics at University. She describes herself as 'ambitious, optimistic and easy going'. Her first ever job was working on a market stall selling skin care products which she has now turned into a lucrative business.

She says: "I'm short, sweet and smiley but when I do business I mean business."


Zoe Beresford

Age: 26
Occupation: Project manager - Drinks manufacturer
Lives: Cheshire

Born in Stoke on Trent, Zoe joined her family firm straight from university and played an integral role in the company's development working in sales and marketing. Zoe, who bought a house with her sister at the age of just 12, describes her attitude as not 'why' but 'why not'. Zoe was awarded the 'Rolls-Royce Manufacturing Technology Prize' for the highest dissertation mark in the school of engineering.

She says: "I will do whatever it takes to win."


The boys

Alex Britez Cabral

Age: 28
Occupation: Estate agent manager
Lives: London

Motorbike enthusiast Alex describes himself as 'ambitious, driven, and extremely focused'. Born and raised in London, Alex's first job was making tea in a small estate agents before becoming a thriving agent himself. His greatest achievement is taking a business losing money and turning it around to a fast growing profitable business within 12 months.

He says: "Fear is a great motivator. If you are successful, you are unpopular, so unpopularity is a good thing."


Edward Hunter

Age: 25
Occupation: Accountant
Lives: Reading

Half-British and half-Afghan, Reading born and raised Edward's first job was as a gardener at the age of 12. He successfully applied for a role in a global professional services firm headquartered in London after university and was hired as senior associate in the audit team before becoming an accountant at a FTSE 30 energy company. Trained at one of the world's leading accountancy firms, Edward describes himself as a 'man with strength of character and conviction who is honest and direct'.

He says: "I'm the wheeler dealer who accidentally became a finance professional and wants out."


Gavin Winstanley

Age: 27
Occupation: Managing Director - Opticians
Lives: Liverpool

Gavin's first foray into working life was as a salesman at a high street clothing store and was made a manager at the age of 16. A passionate football fan, Gavin started up his own online opticians, which now has two high-street stores, after noticing the profit margins on glasses when working in a London department store.

He Says: "I want to be a big name in UK business.....I'm everything. I'm all mouth. I'm a doer. I'm a leader."


Glenn Ward

Age: 28
Occupation: Senior design engineer
Lives: Hertfordshire

Glenn Ward took apart and rebuilt an entire computer aged 8 and his entrepreneurial streak ensued when he began washing cars in his local area at age 14. An amateur footballer, Glenn cites Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as his inspiration and describes himself as 'an intelligent man with a dry sense of humour' who can 'read between the lines'.

He says: "Aggression isn't the best form of strength…I bring a marriage of technical thinking with a bit of salesman bravado."


Jim Eastwood

Age: 32
Occupation: Sales & marketing manager
Lives: Northern Ireland

Jim started work in his father's fish & chip shop chipping potatoes from the age of nine and went on to achieve top sales performances as a sales and marketing manager. Jim, who was All Ireland cycling champion as a teenager, idolises Sir Richard Branson and describes himself as 'driven, self-motivated, resilient and an eternal optimist.'

He says: "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. I am the champion thoroughbred that this process requires."


Leon Doyle

Age: 26
Occupation: Fast Food Marketing Entrepreneur
Lives: Leeds

Harrogate-born Leon, a former paper boy and lorry driver, describes himself as 'charming, genuine and honest'. Leon, who survived a near fatal fall from a tree at the age of 12 once completed the Great North Run for charity. A director and founder of an online takeaway ordering site and publishing business, Leon also notes Branson as a hero and Apple as his inspirational.

He says: "I don't like your gimmicky salesman who thinks he can sell ice to an Eskimo. Chances are he probably can't, and why would an Eskimo buy ice".


Tom Pellereau

Age: 31
Occupation: Inventor
Lives: London

London born Tom's first job was working on a farm sorting agricultural bulbs from mud. A keen inventor and sports enthusiast, Tom succeeded in taking a prototype made in his kitchen to the shelves of two leading pharmacy outlets in the UK. He describes himself as 'creative, adventurous, loyal and enthusiastic', and cites Thomas Edison as an icon.

He says: "For me The Apprentice is a bit like the Olympics or the World Cup for entrepreneurs… I want to challenge myself, find out if I am ready to step up to this level."


Vincent Disneur

Age: 29
Occupation: Sales Manager - Telecoms Software
Lives: Canterbury

Half-Belgian and half-Swiss, Glasgow-born Vincent is a film buff and frequent traveller with a penchant for theatre. The self-confessed perfectionist who was a Liverpool mascot as a child, names Bill Gates and, again, Mr Branson as role models and would love to have been the brains behind Microsoft.

He says: "My positive approach and very good looks make me stand out from the crowd."