The Apprentice Winners

The other day Andrew Bloch tweeted a photo of a gathering of
the winners of The Apprentice.

Nothing has been announced yet, but you could sense this was
more than just a social gathering. Perhaps there’s a documentary on its way
about the winners.

Here is my recollection of the winners

Tom Pellereau (2011)

Tom was a brilliant person on The Apprentice – he was so funny to watch! He was the first winner of the new format. Prior to him, the winner would be given a job working for Lord Sugar.

I always thought that was a bit awkward. It’s all very well getting a
job but would it be a good job? Surely the job could be literally anything
(although well paid). The change to an investment prize of £250,000 must be
better, even though Lord Sugar would take a 50% share in the business which is
quite an amount to give up! But suddenly the rules of the show were to change –
after all those tasks, proving yourselves to be the best person the show would
become a form of Dragons’ Den where the person with the best business would get the investment. That felt odd, and its a scenario that I still don’t feel quite
right about. But I put it aside because it’s great to watch!

I seem to recall that Tom lost just about every task. And the person he was
up against in the final (Helen?) had won just about every task. In the old
rules, she would have won the series. Tom’s investment that he was proposing was something to do with a chair (can’t remember anything about it). And Lord Sugar said if Tom would change the investment to another invention of his, a nail file, then he would be the winner. And Tom did, and Lord Sugar picked him.

This first series has always made me a bit suspicious of the process. I don’t think anyone since has ever been allowed to change their mind about the business (and there have been some brilliant people who maybe should have been allowed to). And when you get some of the weaker people who stay to the end you wonder if there’s some inside knowledge of how good their business idea would be (Alana, for example).

Tom’s business is expected to turnover £5 million this year!

In the same series there was also Susan Ma. She was ditsy but was a memorable person on the show. I can recall that she was not in the final two but Lord Sugar liked the idea of her business. And on You’re Fired afterwards he announced that he was going to invest in her. It turns out that she’s the most successful of the lot! The Tropics brand is worth £150 million!

Ricky Martin (2012)

Probably my favourite Apprentice contestant ever! At first we all thought he was a bit bonkers and would get nowhere – just because he was called Ricky Martin! But he was sensational throughout. I remember he nailed the interview round – Claude Littner said he was ‘in awe’ of Ricky.

Ricky’s Twitter feed is great – he is always interesting and is supportive of others. I’m really glad that his science recruitment company is doing well – it is expected to turn over £15 million this year.

Leah Totton (2013)

The year after my favourite person won, my least favourite person won. There was something about Leah that was so easy to dislike. She annoyed me throughout. I wanted Luisa to win (at least out of the final two I did). Annoyingly Leah’s cosmetic surgery business is going to turn over £3 million this year. And Leah doesn’t look like she’s aged a day since she won – funny that!

Mark Wright (2014)

Why is it that Apprentice winners often have already famous names? Mark Wright was the Australian that always talked sense. He was cocky but likable and I was really pleased when he won. He deserved it! He is expected to turn over £5 million this year.

Joseph Valentine (2015)

Joseph was noticeably missing from the winners gathering. This is because Lord Sugar sold his part of the business back to Joseph in 2017. And then just last week his plumbing and gas fitting business went bust. Lord Sugar would surely have seen this coming – he wouldn’t want to be associated with a failure. Joseph was a great contestant – he worked damn hard every week and I really liked him.

Alana Spencer (2016)

Alana was up there with Leah as the worst winners. She was pretty hopeless throughout and was annoying. Somehow she won. I can’t remember who she beat in the final, but whoever it was must surely have been better than Alana. She bought out Lord Sugar’s shares in 2019. You can still find her ridiculously priced cakes at food fairs across the country.

James White and Sarah Lynn (2017)

Every year Lord Sugar agonises over who should win. And every year he says what a tough decision it is. In 2017 he couldn’t be arsed to make a decision and invested in them both. I remember wanting someone else to win and not really caring which one of them would win the final. And the fact that there was no actual winner made me feel very cheated after twelve weeks.

James was good throughout and probably had the better business idea (recruitment). Sarah was a better person on the show but her business idea was selling sweets which didn’t seem like a very unique business for Lord Sugar to invest in. But he did and both companies are going, although James’ sounds more successful. His has turned over £2 million in two years. (He wasn’t at the photo shoot).

Sian Gabbidon (2018)

A worthy winner. Sian was quietly strong throughout and was a deserved winner in the end. Her swimsuit business seems to be going well (no huge figures yet, but then she’s only been running it for a year or so).

Carina Lapore (2019)

The 2019 series probably had some of the most memorable characters ever but there was only really one consistently stand out person and that was Carina. She was great throughout – funny and good at what she does. Her bakery business sounds nice on Twitter!

Apparently Lord Sugar has also invested in the runner up, Scarlet Allen-Horton’s business. It’s also a recruitment firm – he has a thing for recruitment firms.


A few months ago I signed up for the Chartr newsletter.

Chartr is a free newsletter – which has just increased its output to twice a week. It features charts and headline information about business, technology, politics and entertainment.

Each week three stories are picked to explore and the research is supported with a graph or chart. I am a bit of a maths nerd so really enjoy looking at this.

The stories chosen are always interesting to read as they aren’t based on the highest profile stories of the week so you always learn something new.

The newsletters are always free, so it’s well worth considering signing up at


I am really gutted to be hearing that HMV is going into administration again. This time, it will almost certainly be the death of the company.

HMV was my favourite shop. When I was at Chester Uni I used to visit every single week without fail. I’d be looking for the latest CD singles (I’ve never been an albums man.) I’d browse the collection of old singles. Around that time I’d be looking for DVDs of new films and TV series. The Chester store had some white label dance records which I’d look for – even buying a record player to play them.

I could lose hours at a time, exploring the Aladdin’s cave of treasures.

I’d visit less often when I finished Uni but would call in to HMV whenever we saw a store.

Then in 2003 we got broadband and wifi. At this point my CD purchasing slowed down as I moved towards downloading. For a while 7 Digital was my download store of choice. In 2010 I got my first iPhone. From that point on it was iTunes.

In 2007 we started with Sky – specifically so we could watch the third season of Lost. We decided to subscribe to Sky Movies as well. It was at that point that our DVD buying also began to slow down.

By 2010 we were no longer buying CDs or DVDs. Everything would be streamed or downloaded from about that point onwards.

We stopped visiting HMV as we didn’t want to fill the house with more CDs or DVDs if everything could be stored on a device or in the cloud.

I imagine that this is probably a similar pattern to other HMV customers over the years. The business model doesn’t seem to fit with a digital society. The reason for the store’s demise could be due to being taken advantage of by businessmen. But despite that, surely it couldn’t have lasted much longer.

HMV doesn’t feel relevant to the way we consume media these days. So sad. My thoughts are with anyone losing jobs from this.