Creative Brand Communications

The Apprentice returns to BBC One.

16 potential business partners. 12 tough weeks. One life changing opportunity…

LONDON, Tuesday 13th March 2012: BBC One’s multi award-winning and critically acclaimed business entertainment series The Apprentice returns for an eighth series on Wednesday 21st March, as the latest line-up of budding business partners faces Lord Sugar in the battle for boardroom supremacy.

From across the UK and Ireland, this year’s selection of entrepreneurial hopefuls have come to London to face the biggest challenge of their careers – fighting it out in a business battle over 12 tough tasks to impress multi-millionaire tycoon, Lord Sugar.

(l-r – back row) Jade Nash, Duane Bryan, Maria O’Connor, Tom Gearing, Ricky Martin, Bilyana Apostolova, Stephen Brady, Adam Corbally
(l-r – front row) Azhar Siddique, Jane McEvoy, Laura Hogg, Jenna Whittingham, Gabrielle Omar, Michael Copp, Katie Wright, Nick Holzherr

The candidates’ CVs reveal everything from a professional wrestler, a show jumper and a shark diver to entrepreneurs in fields as varied as architecture, beauty, bridal, technology, fine wine and greengrocery.

Selected for their burning passion for business and naked ambition, only one can succeed in proving they have the commercial insight and business sense to be worthy of entering into a partnership with Lord Sugar as the winner of The Apprentice 2012.

In business, times are tough and investment is hard to come by. The 16 ambitious applicants are determined to win the backing they need, but to get funding they’ll face the fight of a life time. On offer, 40 years of experience and a quarter of a million pounds.

From market stall to market leader, Lord Sugar is a global success story. Willing to invest when others won’t, he’s now on the hunt for a new business partner. Once again he is putting his money on the line, offering the winner both the opportunity to be his partner and an investment to the value of £250,000 founded on the basis of their business idea.

Failure is not an option and errors will not be excused as Lord Sugar wastes no time in informing his 16 possible partners of his high expectations:

“This is not about a job anymore and I’m not looking for a friend, if I wanted a friend I’d get a dog. I’m looking for a partner, the ‘Marks’ to my ‘Spencer’, the ‘Lennon’ to my ‘McCartney’. This is about me investing £250,000 into a business with one of you and I’m expecting you, as the so called entrepreneurs, to make the money for me.”

“Some of you may come here with preconceived plans of how this is going to play out. Let me give you a warning, don’t try and hide. We’re not playing ‘Where’s Wally’ here. I’m not looking for Lord Lucan, I’m looking for somebody who is going to put themselves forward and show me that they have got the aggression and business acumen to be my partner.”

To help him keep an eye on how the candidates perform over the 12 challenging tasks, Lord Sugar will be aided once again by his trusted advisors Nick Hewer and Karren Brady.

It will be the candidates’ plan and Lord Sugar’s money, but in order to get it a punishing selection process awaits.This year’s candidates face a series of demanding tasks, each designed to push their skills to the limit.

Although the candidates will live in a lavish four storey Bayswater townhouse and be given a taste of the high-flying life they dream of, the weeks ahead will be anything but glamorous as they roll up their tailored sleeves and embark upon weeks of hard graft with only one of them emerging victorious. Their rivalry and competitiveness will be unearthed as the 16 challengers vie for the chance to go into business with one of the world’s most renowned business moguls.

Episode one follows the candidates as they are split into two teams, boys versus girls, with Nick and Karren closely monitoring their every move. Appropriately, in the first task the prospective candidates must start with a blank canvas. The teams are set the challenge of starting their own print businesses. They must buy £500 worth of bare materials, from mugs to mouse mats, create designs to print on to them and then sell their unique products to the public. The decision of what products to choose and which customers to target is theirs but only one factor will be considered in the first boardroom showdown – who has made the most profit?

Series eight will see personalities clash and tempers soar as the cut-throat competition gets tougher with every task.

With each task based on new business opportunities, the candidates will design a new household gadget, produce a condiment, open a junk shop, create a fitness DVD, represent urban / street artists and promote English sparkling wine.

For these elite professionals it is make or break time in the most daunting challenge they will ever face. With gripping boardroom showdowns and opinionated candidates, this series promises to be the most intense and unpredictable yet.

16 potential business partners. 12 tough weeks. One life changing opportunity. Lord Sugar’s search for his new business partner is about to begin…

Ultimate fan show, The Apprentice: You’re Fired! will also be making a welcome return to BBC Two immediately after the main show with host Dara O Briain in the chair. Each week the fired candidate is interrogated by business experts, celebrity fans of the show and a studio audience of viewers.

The BBC Apprentice website – – will feature clips from each episode and exclusive footage of each of the 16 candidates, filmed during the selection process. Radio 1 DJ Matt Edmondson will be giving his take on each episode with exclusive funny clips. Viewers will also be able to catch up with events surrounding the show on the official Apprentice Twitter and Facebook pages.

The Apprentice is a Boundless production for BBC One. Michele Kurland and Peter Moore are the Executive Producers, Cate Hall is Series Producer. Jo Wallace is the Executive Editor for the BBC.

The Apprentice will air on BBC One and BBC One HD and will be repeated on BBC Three.

Press Contact: Taylor Herring PR


Bilyana Apostolova
Age: 25
Occupation: Risk Analyst
Lives: London, UK
Bulgaria born Bilyana started off her career aged six, collecting snails from her grandparents’ farm to sell to pharmaceutical companies, and is now training to be a Wealth Manager for British entrepreneurs. The former head girl, who prefers rollerblading to and from work, feels her biggest achievement is her attitude to life and a dedication to advancing by learning and working hard. She loves dancing, baking and travelling. She describes herself as positive and adaptable but feels her greatest weakness is dealing with confrontation.
She says: “I got myself from a Communist block of flats in Bulgaria to the top of a skyscraper in the heart of the City of London.”

Gabrielle Omar
Age: 29
Occupation: Architect
Lives: London, UK

Gabrielle’s first job was helping at her parents’ fish and chip shop when she was 14. She learnt how to ride a bike last year and loves running, photography, drawing and painting watercolours. She says that she rules her life on gut feelings, and as a result never has regrets. Gabrielle first got a passport at the age of 19 and has had the travelling bug ever since, once travelling to 13 different countries in a year. Gabrielle feels her persistency is her strength but her trusting nature is her biggest weakness.

She says: “When it comes to business I can be like an animal and I will roar my way to the top.”

Jade Nash
Age: 29
Occupation: Business Development Manager
Lives: Bedfordshire, UK

Former 18-30 rep Jade grew up helping at her parents’ caravan park. She feels her strength is her resilience and says that she doesn’t have any annoying habits. She enjoys going to the gym, hosting dinner parties and her passions are money, her friends and life. Jade loves cars and often attends drag racing events. She lists her parents as her role models, as both have their own businesses, her father owns a holiday park and her mother is a funeral celebrant.

She says: “What I want is to be able to retire when I’m 45, but I’m such a workaholic that I’ll probably carry on until I’m 80”.

Jane McEvoy
Age: 28
Occupation: Co-founder of Food Manufacturing Company
Lives: Kilkenny, Ireland

Jane is a mother of one, and lives in Kilkenny, Ireland. She admits to being opinionated and a workaholic but also says that she is determined and honest. An animal lover, Jane says if she never had to worry about money she would open an animal shelter for cats and dogs. Jane used to play hockey for her province and camogie for her county. Her role model is her glamorous grandmother, who is an empowered woman with 12 children.

She says: “Anything is achievable if you have drive, determination, and a seriously good work ethic”.

Jenna Whittingham
Age: 25
Occupation: Beauty Salon Owner
Lives: Lancashire, UK

Homebody Jenna has never been away from home for longer than a week and can’t cook or clean. Jenna spends her spare time horse-riding and competing in show jumping events and competed at the Wembley 1998 Horse of the Year show. She describes herself as a ‘people person’ but also admits to being a bad loser. Jenna is dyslexic and her role model is her dad, who is also dyslexic but set up his own business building horse boxes. Her ambition is to earn a million pounds before she turns 30.

She says: “My personality and character is ‘once seen never forgotten”.

Katie Wright
Age: 26
Occupation: Editorial and Research Director
Lives: London, UK

Katie is a huge football fan and loves to attend Fulham football matches. Katie, who got married last year, admits to talking too much but feels she can get on with anyone. Her first job was as a pot washer in a French restaurant when she was 13. Katie wishes she was the brains behind Heinz Baked Beans and says that she admires Barack Obama for his charisma.

She says: “I would call myself ‘The Blonde Assassin’. I let people underestimate me just so I can blow them out of the water.”

Laura Hogg
Age: 28
Occupation: Bridal Shop Owner
Lives: Glasgow, UK

Scot Laura is a mother of one who loves skiing. A former ice skater, she once skated with Torvil and Dean. She says her strength is that she will go out of her way for others however she admits to sometimes being stubborn. She is inspired by Michelle Mone as a powerful working mother from Scotland who created a business empire.

She says: “I am going to be one of Scotland’s next big exports”.

Maria O’Connor
Age: 20
Occupation: Restaurateur
Lives: Kent, UK

Bubbly Maria opened her own Greek restaurant at the age of 19 and is inspired by Gordon Ramsay. She admits that she is headstrong and cunning when it comes to business, and says that her persuasive charm helps her always get what she wants. She enjoys shopping, socialising and is an adrenaline junkie. Maria wishes she was the brains behind cotton buds as they are cheap to make but are used in every household.

She says: “If you chuck me in the deep end I’ll swim, I won’t sink.”


Adam Corbally
Age: 32
Occupation: Market Trader
Lives: Derbyshire, UK

Father of two Adam loves swimming, playing football and cycling. Adam says that he is confident and enthusiastic but that he is not ashamed to show his emotions. Adam’s first job was stacking bread at his local Co-op. He now runs a wholesale and retail fruit and veg business and manages his own property portfolio. He wishes he was the brains behind Virgin Galactic because he feels it is innovative, a world first, and offers people the chance to have their dreams come true. Adam organises the annual turning on of the Christmas lights in his local community.

He Says: “I get too excited, but that shows my passion, it shows my drive and it shows my ability.”

Azhar Siddique
Age: 33
Occupation: Founder and Managing Director of Catering and Refrigeration Company
Lives: Manchester, UK

Thrill seeker Azhar enjoys shark diving and has two pet sharks. He feels his biggest strengths are his professionalism and integrity but also admits that he gets very restless very quickly. In his spare time Azhar enjoys strength training and Muay Thai and loves scuba diving due to his passion for marine life. Azhar is inspired by the IKEA brand and admires its founder, Invgar Kamprad, for always sticking to his high self-imposed standards.

He Says: “It’s not who shouts the loudest; it’s who has the ability to control the conversation”.

Duane Bryan
Age: 29
Occupation: Founder/Director of Drinks Distribution Company
Lives: Manchester, UK

Have a go hero Duane once chased and caught a hit and run driver trying to flee the scene of a crash. He says that his biggest strength in business is his creativity but that his attention to detail can be somewhat lacking. Duane enjoys going out to bars and nightclubs in his spare time and says he is inspired by the Jaegermeister brand. He has met Tony Blair as part of a voluntary group.

He Says: “I am a winner and I am a fighter, in order to be the best you’ve got to beat the best.”

Michael Copp
Age: 31
Occupation: MD Kitchen and Bedroom Furniture Retailer
Lives: London, UK

Michael says his biggest strength is his positivity but admits that he can be impatient. In his spare time Michael enjoys fishing, walking and boxing. Michael, who is dyslexic, wishes he had worked harder at school and regrets leaving at 15 and not finishing his education. He would have liked to have been the brains behind Apple as he admires the way they cornered the market with their products and set themselves apart from their rivals.

He Says: “I’m better than unique; I’m naturally gifted in business.”

Nick Holzherr
Age: 25
Occupation: Technology Entrepreneur
Lives: Birmingham, UK
Nick, who lived in Switzerland for seven years as a child, was named ‘emerging entrepreneur of the year’ by Insider Magazine in 2010. When Nick was nine years old he earned money by selling lost golf balls back to golfers. He enjoys playing squash, snowboarding and cooking, and loves buying kitchen gadgets. Nick feels his intelligence is one of his strengths but knows his impatient nature can sometimes make him come across as arrogant. He would like to build and sell his own businesses before becoming an investor in start-up companies, and cites Steve Jobs as an inspiration.
He Says: “I’ve got lots of ideas, I know how to whittle them down into ideas that will work and I’ve got what it takes to make them actually happen.”

Ricky Martin
Age: 26
Occupation: Recruitment Team Leader
Lives: Hampshire, UK

By day Ricky is a successful recruitment manager operating across the UK science industries, and by night and weekend a heavy hitting professional wrestler. Ricky, who has an Honours degree in Biochemistry, spends his spare time competing at wrestling events and is also an amateur body builder, training five to six times a week. Ricky recently got engaged to his girlfriend, and says his greatest strength is his people skills and that his weakness is that he is a perfectionist. Ricky wishes he was the brains behind Facebook and once played tennis against Tim Henman at Wimbledon.

He Says: “I truly am the reflection of perfection.”

Stephen Brady
Age: 33
Occupation: National Sales Manager
Lives: Vienna, Austria

Ireland born Stephen loves learning new languages, reading and writing stories. Stephen says that he is a focused and down to earth person who is inspired by Muhammad Ali. He feels it is important to make every day count and tries to live life to the absolute limit. Stephen, who once lived in New York, has a passion for sport and the outdoors and once played in the FA cup as a semi-professional footballer.

He Says: “Enthusiasm is a huge asset of mine and I believe it’s caught and not taught.”

Tom Gearing
Age: 23
Occupation: Director of a Fine Wine Investment Company
Lives: London, UK

Tom feels his biggest strength is his self-assurance but says that he can sometimes be over-confident. He also admits he isn’t great at handling early morning starts. Tom enjoys going to music events and West Ham football matches in his spare time and also plays golf, tennis and football for a Sunday League team. Tom’s passions are fine dining and wine and he also loves travelling around the world. He is inspired by Candy & Candy and wishes he was the brains behind ASOS.

He Says: “I’m confident, charismatic and some people say I’m quite good looking, so that adds to the bill”.


The Apprentice

BAFTA Award-winning business series, The Apprentice, has previously had seven successful series as well as two series of the Young Apprentice.

As well as a wealth of loyal fans, The Apprentice has received critical acclaim and won numerous awards including a BAFTA in 2006 for Best Feature. It has also walked away with top TV gongs including recent accolades at the BPG TV Awards, Televisual Bulldog Awards, National Reality Television Awards and TV Choice Awards as well as nominations at the National Television Awards, BAFTA Craft Awards and BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards along with a Press Guild Award for series six and a TV Choice Award for Best Reality Show for series seven.

Last year, The Apprentice transmitted on BBC One over a 12 weeks period, with 10.7 million viewers tuning in to watch the final episode in which Tom Pellereau became Lord Sugar’s new business partner.

It’s the toughest interview process ever, and with more determined candidates this series, it promises to be the most intense and unpredictable.

Apprentice series 7 introduced the UK to Jedi Jim and his boardroom mind tricks, as well as being the first series featuring the new prize of a partnership with Lord Sugar rather than a job offer. Apprentice series 6 saw candidate Stuart Baggs ‘The Brand’ take metaphors to a new level revealing that he was not a one trick pony but was in fact a field of ponies. In series 5, for the first time ever, the series saw candidate Adam Freeman pull out before the first task had even started. Other highlights of previous series include Lorraine Tighe’s ‘premonitions’, the romance between Kate Walsh and Philip ‘Pantsman’ Taylor, the brash defences of Claire Young and boardroom bluffing of Jenny Celerier.

The memorable catchphrases spouted by some of the candidates have put smiles on the faces of millions of viewers, including Melody Hossaini’s “Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon” and Edward Hunter’s “Roll with the punches.” The business theatrics of Michael Sophocles and his kosher meat gaffe has made him one of the standout characters of the previous seven series, while the floundering failures of school teacher Noorul Choudhury had the nation screaming at the TV as he escaped the firing line on many occasions. Sandwich seller Rocky Andrews failing in the catering task, Lee McQueen’s pterodactyl impression and not forgetting Raef Bjayou’s ability to “speak to prince or pauper” have all had the nation cowering behind their CVs for the past six years.

There have been two Comic Relief specials and one Sport Relief special of The Apprentice, featuring stellar celebrity line ups.The Apprentice has spawned a number of columns and blogs in the national press and has been spoofed by comedians including French & Saunders, Harry Hill and Dead Ringers. In 2007, the BBC Two show Kombat Opera spoofed The Apprentice with Kombat Opera Presents…The Applicants. In 2009 renowned YouTube artist Cassette Boy created Cassette Boy vs The Apprentice which has attracted over 2.8 million hits to date on YouTube alone.

Has walked away with top TV gongs including recent accolades at the BPG TV Awards, Televisual Bulldog Awards, National Reality Television Awards and TV Choice Awards as well as nominations at the National Television Awards, BAFTA Craft Awards and BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards along with a Press Guild Award for series six and a TV Choice Award for Best Reality Show for series seven.

Lord Sugar

After leaving school in Hackney aged 16, Sugar started selling car aerials and electric goods out of a van he bought for £50. In 1968, he founded Amstrad, and now, over 40 years later, he has an estimated worth of £730 million, and was ranked 85th in the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List.

A former Chairman of Tottenham Hotspur FC, Sugar sold his Amstrad empire to Sky in July 2007. Sugar’s other companies include AMSCREEN, which offers digital screen media advertising networks, AMSAIR, which offers business and executive jets to a number of high profile clients around the world, AMSPROP, a property investment firm and VIGLEN, a manufacturer specialising in computers, networks and solutions.

In 2000, Sugar was knighted for his services to business and he holds two honorary Doctorates of Science degrees, awarded by CityUniversity and BrunelUniversity respectively.

Having previously sat on the Business Council for Britain and fronted a campaign promoting the benefits of apprenticeships, in 2009 he was named as Enterprise Champion and appointed to the House of Lords as Baron Sugar of Clapton in the London Borough of Hackney.

In 2010, Lord Sugar released his autobiography, ‘What You See Is What You Get’ and in 2011 he released ‘The Way I See It’.

Lord Sugar is a philanthropist who donates to a number of charities including Great Ormond Street Hospital and Jewish Care.

Nick Hewer

Former PR impresario Nick Hewer started off in public relations in the mid 1960s. Heading up his own PR company until its sale in 1997, Nick built an impressive corporate client list which, over more than 30 years, included many British and international companies and organisations, including the Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan, based in Chantilly, France and the wife of the ruler of Dubai, the late H H Sheikh Maktoum.

Nick first came across Lord Sugar when his PR company was chosen to represent Amstrad in 1983. Soon taking care of his profile across all business and personal dealings, Nick became a trusted ally and firm friend to the tycoon, playing an integral part in the management structure at Amstrad.

Friends throughout both careers, Lord Sugar laid on a dinner at The Dorchester for Nick and 100 guests to celebrate his official retirement. Says Nick: “Alan is a very generous friend. The best thing about working for him was there was always something going on – he has vibrancy about him.”

Nick’s career has taken him all over the world and his lifelong passion is world travel. Not long ago he drove a 20 year-old Renault 4L solo from London to Mongolia for charity and last summer took part in the Children in Need trek from Istanbul to Almaty in Kazakhstan. As a patron of Hope and Homes for Children, Nick helps promote this British charity. He has worked for them in Romania, Rwanda and will visit Sierra Leone this summer. He has a home in France where he indulges his other passion, for old tractors.

Nick’s much loved dry wit and legendary facial expressions have taken him through seven series of The Apprentice and have also seen him appear on comedy panel shows such as ‘Would I Lie To You?’ In January 2012 he became the presenter of Channel 4’s ‘Countdown’.

Karren Brady

Karren Brady began her career at Saatchi & Saatchi when she was 18 years old and swiftly moved onto London Broadcasting Company as a sales executive. She joined Sport Newspapers Ltd in 1988 and became Director within a year.

Karren is now known as the first woman in football. She was Managing Director of Birmingham City Football Club from 1993 to 2009 and during that time turned the Club’s fortunes around. She took over Birmingham City FC when it was in administration, and in her first year at the helm, the Club recorded a financial trading profit. In January 2010, Karren was appointed Vice Chairman of West Ham United FC.

Karren has attracted much media attention in her career, and was the subject of an hour long documentary ‘Inside Story’ – The Real Life Manageress’ shown on BBC One. She has hosted her own TV show, and has also presented shows on ITV. Karren has written four books and her autobiography ‘Strong Woman: Ambition, Grit and a Great Pair of Heels’ is released on 29th March 2012.

Karren is a columnist for The Sun newspaper and also writes for the popular lifestyle magazines Cosmopolitan and Woman & Home. She is a judge of the Cosmopolitan Women of Achievement Awards and is an Ambassador for the Stroke Association and WellChild. Previously on the Board of Mothercare PLC, Channel 4 Television and Sport England, Karren now holds the position of non-Executive Director of Arcadia. She is an honoree Fellow of the Institute of Sales and Marketing and in 2010 was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of Birmingham.

In March 2007 she was chosen as the Project Manager of the girls team on BBC One’s The Apprentice, for Comic Relief, where she lead her team to a resounding victory over the boys, raising over £750k for charity.

In 2010 following appearances as one of Lord Sugar’s interrogators on The Apprentice, Karren replaced Margaret Mountford as Lord Sugar’s right-hand woman.

Karren has won various awards including, Business Woman of the Year, Cosmopolitan Woman Of The Year, the Spirit of Everywoman Award, Britain’s Most Influential Woman Award as well as a National Reality TV Award for her role in The Apprentice.


Boundless is headed up by Patrick Holland and encompasses factual entertainment, factual features and specialist factual programming, including The Apprentice, Young Apprentice, Escape To The Country, Great British Railway Journeys, Grand Designs and Four Rooms.

Fremantle Media UK

FremantleMedia UK, formerly independent production company talkbackTHAMES, is the UK production arm of FremantleMedia, the global production and content business of the RTL Group, Europe’s largest television and radio company.

It was formed in January 2012 when the company was restructured into a portfolio of labels managed by creative leaders including Richard Holloway, Dan Baldwin, Jon Rolph and Patrick Holland.The labels are supported by a new division, FremantleMedia UK, led by CEO, Sara Geater. The structure has been designed to give the company’s market leading talent greater creative freedom and autonomy in order to deliver the best programmes for customers.

Across the group, the labels provide award winning programming for all major terrestrial, digital channels and digital outlets. With an unparalleled range of programming including: The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Celebrity Juice, Take Me Out, Over The Rainbow, The Apprentice, You’re Fired, Can’t Take It With You, Four Rooms, Grand Designs, Great British Railway Journeys, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, The IT Crowd, QI, The Rob Brydon Show,The Sinking of the Laconia, Kidnap and Ransom and Holy Flying Circus – the Group has aired over 350 hours of programming on terrestrial TV in the past 12 months alone.


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