The 2023 cast of The Apprentice has been announced.
The competition series returns on Thursday (5 January), with 18 new contestants competing to win Lord Alan Sugar’s £250,000 business investment.
Last year’s series was won by Harpreet Kaur, a dessert parlour owner.
Here are the candidates of The Apprentice series 17...
London-based Sharma is a city banker and the youngest candidate in the series, who claims he “can bring a smile to the most miserable face”.
“Some say I’m delusional, I prefer the term optimistic,” Sharma says. “Lord Sugar’s investment will help me escape the rat race of a banking job. I’m the hardest-working rat he’ll ever meet.”
As a director of a construction company from north Yorkshire, “self-made businessman” Johnson prides himself on his “drive and determination”, having started a profitable business from nothing. However, he admits that he struggles with public speaking after being a “shy kid” at school.
“A lot of people in business – I’m not saying everyone – have inherited their businesses, this is not the case for myself,” he says. “I was made redundant in 2019 and now, we’re turning over half a million, which is something I’m immensely proud of.”
Donovan is the owner of a hair salon in Hertfordshire – a business she started as a teenager – and believes the key to business is “passion”.
She claims that her biggest weakness is that “nothing is ever good enough and that I always want more”, but adds that this is “also a humongous strength – it is what has pushed me to come so far”.
Denisha Kaur Bharj
Bharj is a financial controller from Leicestershire and is not scared of being out of her comfort zone, having strived to be a “strong, motivated, hard-working woman”.
“I’m a woman who wants to create an empire and have it all, to be able to provide for my family and to be an inspiration to young women,” Bharj says. “I have always known what I wanted in life. I know the dreams I want to achieve. There’s only one Denisha Kaur.”
Browne, a senior account executive from County Kildare, describes herself as a “workaholic” and promises her business idea will be “one of the most successful ideas to ever come out of The Apprentice”.
“Extremely competitive” Browne says she “won’t let anything get in my way” to the top prize, adding: “If I have an opinion and I think it’s going to allow us to win the task, I will be sure to be straightforward with the other candidates.”
Ebbs is a local councillor who owns an online antiques marketplace, and has previously worked as a professional cannon-firer.
Asked his biggest weakness, Ebbs suggested it was also a strength, which was his “unusual” ideas. “Some people might think, ‘why did you go to Malta to fire cannons when you could be earning so much more in the City of London?’ But I would say, a willingness to try different things and not being afraid to be slightly different is one of my biggest strengths,” he said.
Phillips is based in Worcestershire, but has studied zoology and worked as a safari guide in South Africa.
He says that his dyslexia is the “driving force” for him to succeed and prove his capabilities, explaining: “It’s made me fight harder to keep up with everyone else. Then when I finally caught up, it wasn’t enough, I needed to go past them to prove to people that, yes, you can have dyslexia but you can still succeed in whatever you want to do.”
Dublin accountant D’Arcy started his water sports equipment business during lockdown – while also working in financial services – and wants Lord Sugar’s investment to help him expand into the UK.
“[The business has] gone from strength to strength in Ireland and is now stocked in some of the country’s biggest stores,” he says. “With Lord Sugar as my business partner, I know we can ride that wave into the UK and beyond.”
Moseley is a former soldier who now owns a pest control company. He admits he can be a little over-confident, but says he’s also “very talkative with the charm to match... I can sell to anyone.”
“I’ve been around the world and have met hundreds of different people, from members of the royal family to celebrities,” Moseley says. “I can always speak to them in a confident manner, so I know I’d be right at home negotiating and securing deals with some of the biggest brands.”
A London-based court advocate and a gold medal-winning boxer, Swindells says she has fought “tooth and nail” to be where she is today.
“I have given my blood, sweat and tears to my business,” she says. “I think that taking the experience I have in the boxing industry and all the experience that [Lord Sugar] he has in the business industry, together we would be a winning combination.”
Hornby owns a sweet shop and cafe in east Yorkshire and says her success has come from finding a “gap in the market”, which, with Lord Sugar’s investment, could lead to her brand being “nationally recognised”.
Hornby admitted: “My biggest weakness is that I can often be overly ambitious. I can take too many things on, and sometimes I need to focus on certain aspects. But it’s just because I’m so passionate about what I do – I just want to take everything on and get involved in as much as I can.”
Donnelly owns a theatre school in Glasgow and wants to become the first Scottish candidate to win the show, challenging the idea that the country is “a haggis-eating, kilt-wearing nation”.
Donnelly says he is the youngest chief executive of a further education college in the UK, having launched the company when he was 19, and says that “despite my age, I have all the experience, drive, and personality to take my success achieved in Scotland to link up with Lord Sugar and scale that up across the rest of the UK”.
Bedfordshire hair salon owner Anthony said she prides herself on being a “tenacious, fierce, and determined businesswoman.”
“I deserve Lord Sugar’s investment because I know the hair industry like the back of my hand and Lord Sugar knows business,” she says. “Together, we would be an absolute force to be reckoned with.”
Martin is based in West Yorkshire and reckons her bridal boutique will provide a great business opportunity for Lord Sugar, as he’s never dabbled in the area before.
“I feel that I deserve Lord Sugar’s investment because my business is all based in the UK,” she saysThere are not many other businesses that design, and manufacture wedding dresses made solely in the UK, which is exactly what my business plan is.”
Technology recruiter Hussain champions a varied representation of diverse women in the world of business and says that her ADHD means she can process information “faster than others”.
Hussain says that she hopes to encourage “people like me not to be ashamed of their difference”, adding: “It’s okay to be different. It can make you extremely successful within business.”
A self-confessed “perfectionist”, senior sales representative Rwambiwa says his USP is himself, as “if people can’t buy into you, they’ll never buy anything from you”.
“I deserve Lord Sugar’s business investment because I have a business that not only guarantees profit, but also guarantees to improve the quality of peoples’ lives,” he says.
Chowdhary is a martial arts instructor who owns his own school in Southampton, having been raised in a council house and “fought hard” to achieve his success.
“I am calm and collected but if they do come at me? I will bite and I will sting and I will leave my mark,” he says. “Plus, owning a martial arts business means Lord Sugar can learn how to kick ass for free.”
A former flight attendant from Merseyside, Goulbourne started her online sweet business during lockdown and found success on social media.
She says: “I know what consumers want. I’ve travelled all over the world and am not afraid to take on a challenge... I’m direct and outspoken, but this is because I’m passionate and know what works.”
The Apprentice returns Thursday 5 January at 9pm on BBC One.