Lord Sugar will not be going into business with anyone from The Apprentice this year.
Sadly, the business mogul was forced to postpone his search for another business partner due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the best efforts of TV executives, the BBC announced they were scrapping the show for a year, saying: “Production safety and the wellbeing of everyone involved in the show is our number one priority.”
Trips abroad for tasks would have been banned or hard to organise, while the contestants would have found it impossible to run around London trying to flog their new ideas to the public.
However, special episodes featuring some of the biggest boadroom bust-ups, memorable tasks and hopeless candidates over the past 15 years have been shown in a special highlight show each week.
But what became of the candidates who successfully endure painful put-downs and acid tongue-lashings from Lord Sugar ?
A handful have gone on to build empires bringing in millions, while a few have parted ways with Lord Sugar – and two winners even started dating for a while.
Here we look back at what the winners are up to now.
Carina Lepore – Series 15 (2019)
The most recent winner of The Apprentice, Carina got a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar for her artisan bakery business.
She had plans to rival Greggs with her Dough Bakehouse chain – and business is booming a year later.
As well as her original bakery in Herne Hill, Carina opened a new branch in Beckenham in September this year.
Lord Sugar himself opened the new family run bakery and helped cut the ribbon to open the new store – socially distanced of courrse.
“What attracted me to Carina as the winner is that this business has potential. Food will always be good,” said Lord Sugar on This Morning.
“I think Carina will concur that throughout this pandemic, the shop has been busy. It’s given us encouragement to open a second branch which was always on the cards.
“Greggs watch out, we’re going to have a lot of branches.”
Sian Gabbidon – Series 14 (2018)
Sian ploughed the prize money straight back into her swimwear business, Sian Marie.
After winning The Apprentice, Sian focused on building her team in Leeds and growing the company from small scale to mass production.
“Alongside this I also designed, sampled, shot and launched our summer swimwear range – with a huge celebrity party at Sheesh restaurant,” she told This Is Money.
Her SS19 Tropical Goddess collection was worn by actress Michelle Keegan and Love Island’s Hayley Hughes.
Sian also launched her own Apprentice-based podcast last year.
James White and Sarah Lynn – Series 13 (2017)
There was a major shock in 2017 when Lord Sugar couldn’t decide on a winner, so picked two of them.
James White, who runs an IT recruitment firm, and Sarah Lynn, who owns a confectionery company, were both given £250,000 by Lord Sugar.
Sarah’s personalised sweet company, Sweets in the City, has gone from strength to strength since Lord Sugar joined as a partner and is now stocked in Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.
It’s been a rockier road for James though, with his IT recruitment company, Right Time Recruitment, said to have suffered a series of ‘unfortunate setbacks’ and lost £30,000 in the first six months.
However, his Birmingham-based work force has swelled from one (him) to 17 and there were plans to open a London office and bump up the team to 25.
Alana Spencer – Series 12 (2016)
Alana put the £250,000 into her baking business Ridiculously Rich, and set up an ambassador plan with Lord Sugar.
She exclusively told Mirror TV her turnover has gone from £100,000 to an expected £450,000 in a year thanks to winning The Apprentice.
The queen of cake bought back Lord Sugar’s shares and became the sole owner and director of the firm in 2019.
“A little while ago I had the amazing opportunity to buy out Lord Sugar from Ridiculously Rich and take full control back of my business,” she explained on social media.
“It was an exciting, crazy, scary few months while the final details were being agreed and sorted, but something I am so grateful for.”
She added: “Working with Lord Sugar has been an incredible experience and I have learned such a lot in such a short space of time. I am so grateful for his time in Ridiculously Rich by Alana.”
Joseph Valente – Series 11 (2015)
Joseph Valente split from Lord Sugar just two years after he invested £250,000 into his plumbing business.
Joseph announced he would take full control of ImpraGas – but they parted on friendly terms.
At the time, Lord Sugar said: “I’ll still be on hand to offer any help and advice required. I wish Joseph and ImpraGas all the very best for the future and will follow their progress with much affection.”
Joseph added: “I am so grateful for everything Lord Sugar has done for me and I could not have asked for a better partner in the early stages of my business career.
“I owe him a great deal. I am confident that with the winning business model we created together, I can continue to grow the business successfully.”
This summer, he was forced to sell his boiler installation business amid reports it owed almost £2million to creditors.
ImpraGas was sold for an undisclosed sum, safeguarding jobs, but shell company VBH Assets, co-owned by Joseph, entered into voluntary liquidation, owing £1.9million to creditors.
Joseph opened up on his battle with depression and public shaming after the failure of his company, but said it made him even more determined.
“It hit me very hard, I was very depressed for a couple of months, and one day I woke up and thought, ‘There is no way I am going to let this destroy me'”, Joseph told MirrorOnline.
“I had my credibility and my reputation to rebuild.”
He started from scratch and his course to support new and existing businesses on how to grow, Trade Mastermind and Power2Succeed, are going from strength to strength.
Mark Wright – Series 10 (2014)
Australian-born Mark won a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar in 2014, despite getting confused for the TOWIE star with the same name.
He started his digital marketing agency, Climb Online – which has become the most successful company to have gained investment through the BBC show, bringing in £5million in its second year.
Following growth and success in both Bristol and London, Mark expanded the company to Manchester earlier this year.
At the time, he said: “Climb Online is a vision that I have had for several years.
“I moved to the UK in 2012 after six months of travelling and got my first full time job working at an internet marketing Agency.
“Five years on, Climb Online is about to open in its third location, and we have become the go-to business for marketing success, and I am excited to see what Manchester has in store for us!”
The company works with businesses of all sizes to increase their online presence.
Mark started dating another winner, Leah Totton, back in 2015 after they were spotted cosying up at a cocktail bar.
But they sadly split in 2016 due to their ‘busy work schedules’.
Mark said: “We are both incredibly driven people and, due to our busy schedules, the relationship just wasn’t working, so we decided to go our separate ways.
“Leah is a lovely girl, and we remain good friends.”
In August this year, Mark officially became a UK citizen.
Leah Totton – Series Nine (2013)
Leah managed to see off stiff competition from Celebrity Big Brother star Luisa Zissman in 2013.
The Irish GP used her £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar to open several cosmetic surgery clinics.
The launch was controversial, with critics claiming it would encourage women to have more treatments, but Leah batted off the comments and her clinics have been a huge success.
She’s had a load of famous clients, including The Only Way Is Essex stars – and Karren Brady attended her launch event.
Leah also works part-time as a locum doctor in NHS A&E centre.
Lord Sugar has visited the clinic many times – and Leah has joked she has offered him Botox many times but he “politely declines”.
Ricky Martin – Series Eight (2012)
Ricky Martin (no, not that one) was Livin’ La Dida Loca back in 2012 when he went into business with Shuggs.
“I’m like a shark, right at the top of the food chain. I take what I want, when I want. I truly am the reflection of perfection,” boasted the former pro wrestler Ricky Martin on the show.
He went on to win over Lord Sugar with his business plan for a specialist science recruitment company.
He is now the managing director of Essex-based business Hyper Recruitment Solutions, set up with the £250,000 investment winners now get.
Qualified biochemist Ricky, who changed his name from Richard to emulate the pop star, and Lord Sugar each own half the business.
He’s gone on to win numerous business awards and is earning several million pounds each year.
He is also dad to two kids with wife Gemma, who gave birth to their daughter Olivia in August this year.
Tom Pellereau – Series Seven (2011)
It seemed like Tom would be straight out the door after he was on the losing team five weeks in a row.
Exasperated Lord Sugar once barked at him: “If you nod your head any longer, I’m going to put you on the back seat of my bloody car.”
But the inventor still triumphed and went into business with the tycoon developing Stylfile nail care products to be sold at Tesco and Asda supermarkets.
Their company made a turnover of £1.5million.
Since his winning S-shaped nail file, he’s also launched a new makeup brush-cleaning gadget Stylpro and other time-saving beauty tech like gel nail polish remover clips and a baby-safe nail clipper.
Stella English – Series Six (2010)
The highs of winning The Apprentice were soon followed by deep lows for Stella.
She quit her £100,000 job at Lord Sugar’s company Viglen and took it to an employment tribunal claiming it wasn’t the role she was promised and she was just an “overpaid lackey”.
She lost her claim for constructive dismissal after telling the hearing she had only £90 left in her bank and was later pictured going into a job centre.
The case cost her a fortune, and saw her narrowly escape repossession and bankruptcy, but she has always insisted she had no regrets about winning the show.
She said: “I was extremely proud that I won in 2010. I am disappointed at what happened afterwards. I’m disappointed about the way I handled it and how other people handled it.
“I don’t regret any of it. Would I have done things differently? Of course I would with the benefit of hindsight.”
Stella then appeared as a host for Crowd Box – a TV channel that helps entrepreneurs raise money through crowd-funding – and worked as a management consultant.
Yasmina Siadatan – Series Five (2009)
Restaurant owner Yasmina fulfilled her one-year £100,000 contract at Lord Sugar’s Amscreen Healthcare company, which supplies advertising and information screens to hospitals and GPs.
After taking time off to have two children, she was headhunted by former Dragon’s Den star James Caan.
Yasmina then worked as creative director of Start Up Loans and as Head of Marketing at a fintech firm.
She also ran as a Conservative candidate for council for a by-election in Henley in March 2017.
Lee McQueen – Series Four (2008)
Charming Lee was renowned for his “That’s what I’m talking about!” catchphrase.
The milkman’s son, who became owner of a million-pound company, rang in sick with food poisoning on what should have been his first day at Lord Sugar’s company.
But he went on to work there for two and a half years, setting up a successful digital media business with his boss’s son Simon.
Next, he founded a company, Raw Talent Academy, to help young people get recruitment and sales jobs.
In 2010, Lee had 18 employees and the firm was expected to make nearly £1.5million by the end of this year.
He recently launched a technology platform, Phoenix51, to bring data driven decision and people assessment into the digital age.
Simon Ambrose – Series Three (2007)
Simon memorably caused Sir Alan to explode with frustration as he struggled to put together trampolines he was trying to flog on a television shopping channel.
“Well, I’d like to think I’ve shown that a nice guy from a nice background sometimes can win,” he told Digital Spy.
But the Cambridge graduate won the series and went on to work for Lord Sugar’s property company Amsprop for three years, as well as studying to be a chartered surveyor.
After leaving in 2010, Simon became a property developer, started running an events company and invested in a string of bars and restaurants in London.
Among his Apprentice rivals was Katie Hopkins, who went on to appear on Celebrity Big Brother.
Michelle Dewberry – Series Two (2006)
After landing a £100,000 job with Lord Sugar, Michelle worked on the launch of Xenon Green, which specialised in computer equipment disposal.
She left the company before the end of her 12-month contract and set up her own consultancy firm to support aspiring young entrepreneurs.
Michelle also became a Sky News TV pundit and runs a shopping website, dailychic.co.uk.
A few years ago she had to have surgery to remove a spot on her face after a biopsy revealed it was cancerous and urged fans to get pimples checked.
In July this year, Michelle gave birth to a little boy nine weeks early with former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan.
Michelle’s waters broke when she was just 28 weeks pregnant, following a visit to see her mum in Hull after the lockdown restrictions eased.
Sharing the news on Twitter, The Apprentice star said: “So happy to share that I’m now a mummy!
“After a month in hospital & lots of complications, my little man came into this world way too early (31 weeks) but takes after his mamma & is a fighter.
“I’m in love. Our next chapter, that of NICU is now upon us. We take it day by day.”
Tim Campbell – Series One (2005)
The first ever winner of The Apprentice, Tim stormed to victory in 2005 after the most gruelling job interview of his life.
The former London Underground transport manager joined Lord Sugar’s company Amstrad and launched the Integra anti-wrinkle device at Argos and Harrods.
He left in March 2007 after two years working with the big boss and set up social enterprise Bright Ideas Trust to support young entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“I never saw the Apprentice, Lord Alan’s position, as a job for life,” he told The Guardian. “It was on a plate for me but that wasn’t what it was about. I never saw him as a blank cheque.”
Tim became head of client services for recruitment firm Alexander Mann Solutions and then London Mayor Boris Johnson ’s ambassador for training and enterprise.
In December 2013, Tim was diagnosed with testicular cancer but fought back with the support of his wife Jasmine and was given the all-clear.
Tim received an MBE for Services to Enterprise Culture in 2012 and co-founded bespoke digital marketing agency Marketing Runners Ltd in 2016.