the apprentice 2016: meet the candidates


It’s that time of year again, where a group of 18 brand new candidates are put through their paces to secure Lord Sugar’s £250k investment in their business plan.

Moving from its traditional Wednesday night slot to a Thursday night, the twelfth series sees the return of Lord Sugar and his trusted aides Baroness Karren Brady and Claude Littner.


Lord Sugar kicks the series off with a task designed to test the candidates’ skills in negotiation and selling. The teams arrive at a lock-up containing antiques and collectables including furniture, vintage clothing, toys, ceramics, silver and glassware.

They must spot the treasure from the trash, before they sell their chosen items to the public and trade. The aim is simple – make as much money as possible to avoid being in the firing line on the losing team in the boardroom.

Other tasks over the coming weeks include creating an advertising campaign for jeans, manufacturing a range of sweets, hosting ‘late night opening’ events at well-known attractions, designing virtual reality games and producing and creating their own brand of gin.


The candidates must also once again face the infamous interviews in the penultimate episode, where the semi-finalists are grilled by some of Lord Sugar’s most trusted colleagues about their business plans.

The final will then see the finalists pitch their business plan to Lord Sugar and a host of industry experts, with help from a selection of this year’s fired candidates, as they aim to impress the most with their partnership offer in a bid for the £250,000 prize.

Meet the 18 brand new 2016 candidates and watch their audition tapes here…

Alana Spencer | 24, Owner, Cake Company

“I am incredibly hard working, driven, and I’ll stop at nothing to get what I want.”


Alana is the owner of a baking company and describes herself as determined, creative and charming. She started her first business at age 17, a chocolate company, before moving on to selling cakes.

She believes she is an adaptable businesswoman who will not shy away from any task Lord Sugar sets.

Aleksandra King |38, Owner, Business Consultancy

“Like the Tasmanian devil in the famous cartoon, I will torpedo my way through to the win.”


Aleksandra owns and operates a business consultancy company. She describes herself as altruistic and extremely confident, believes she has a gift for spotting a good business opportunity and can sell to anyone.

She cites her mother as an inspiration as she is fluent in seven languages and has an ability to ‘get people’.

Courtney Wood | 29, Owner, Novelty Gift Company

“How would I describe myself in one sentence? I’ll give you one word: awesome.”


Courtney designs and creates novelty gifts which he supplies to national and international retailers. He describes himself as fun with a positive attitude and he believes his confidence is one of his strongest attributes.

He says he is not one to sit back and plans to assert his authority in the process. He thinks his cutthroat tactics will help him reach the top.

Dillon St. Paul | 37, Art Director, Fashion Magazine

“Sometimes batting the eyelashes can get you a lot in business. Hence, the mascara comes in handy – so they can see those lashes.”


Describing himself as super-creative, Dillon is currently a freelance Art Director at a fashion magazine. He describes himself as talented, kind and very funny.

He intends to be ‘Machiavellian’ about tasks and says he will tell white lies if he needs to.

Frances Bishop | 25, Owner, Children’s Clothing Company

“I’m a pocket rocket. I’m quite fiery and live by the rule ‘kill them with kindness’”


Frances is the owner of a children’s clothing boutique and describes herself as talkative with a feisty personality, which she believes is what has got her so far in the business world.

She wants to impress Lord Sugar with her strong positive outlook.

Grainne McCoy | 31, Owner, Makeup Studio

“I need guidance and a little bit of mentoring to help me make that first million.”


Grainne owns her own makeup business and works throughout the country on projects from film sets to fashion shows. She says her hunger and passion push her to succeed and she puts maximum effort into everything she does.

She is confident that her self-belief and strong-mindedness will see her through the tasks.

JD O’Brien | 37, Owner, Beachwear Company

“I won’t suffer fools. I will get upset by other candidates who don’t know their arse from their elbow.”


JD is the founder and owner of a men’s beachwear company. He believes he can make the best of any situation whilst still being a ‘good bloke’.

He says he is going to put in the hard work and aims to make no mistakes along the way.

Jessica Cunningham | 29, Online Fashion Entrepreneur

“A motto I live by is: there is no competition if you’re already winning.”


Jessica is owner of an online fashion company and the Operations Director for a PR and marketing agency.

She believes her positive helpful attitude will propel her through the tasks, and says she wants to get close to the other candidates to find out how they operate, analyse their strengths and weaknesses and attempt to use them to her advantage.

Karthik Nagesan | 33, Owner, IT Consultancy

“If I wanted to be like everyone else, I’d have waxed my monobrow.”


Karthik owns an IT consulting company and says his friends would describe him as a born leader who takes charge and blazes a trail. He cites his role model as Alexander the Great because he is a master strategist and a brilliant tactician.

He believes he is firm yet polite, making him the ultimate ‘human magnet’.

Michelle Niziol | 35,  Owner, Property Consultancy

“I work 15 to 17 hours every day. 100 per cent, I’m a workaholic.”


Michelle is the founder and owner of three companies in mortgages, property and lettings. She describes herself as straight-talking, passionate and honest but admits that she can sometimes be bossy and impatient.

She says letting others take the lead could be challenge for her.

Mukai Noiri | 36, Digital Marketing Manager, Fashion

“I feel sorry for Lord Sugar because previous applicants have been weak.”


Mukai has lived in over six countries across three continents and recently gave up his position as a senior communications manager to focus on his business idea.

He believes his charm is one of his strongest qualities, though he is a straight talker which he thinks some people might perceive as being insensitive.

Natalie Hughes | 30, Owner, Hair and Beauty Salon

“I started at a young age, I’m a hustler, I’ve got the hustler’s ambition.”


Natalie owns and runs two beauty and clothing businesses. She considers her best quality to be her quick-thinking, but she is also a persuasive talker who insists that nothing embarrasses her.

She prides herself on her ability to buy and sell with ease and believes she has the motivation to win.

Oliver Nohl-Oser | 33, Owner, Food Distribution Business

“Sometimes I feel like James Bond when I’m in my suit.”


Oliver is the founder and director of a sausage manufacturer which supplies supermarkets both in the UK and internationally. He believes his greatest business skills lie in his marketing ability and his powers of persuasion.

When it comes to winning, he regards honesty as the best policy but says he won’t be befriending other candidates as he wants to focus on the prize.

Paul Sullivan | 38, Owner, Marketing Agency

“I’ll play the team when I need to be part of the team, but I’m here to win; I’m not here to make up the numbers.”


Paul is the owner and director of a marketing company specialising in finance, technology, construction and property.

He is a self-proclaimed charmer but doesn’t think he needs a ‘USP’ to win; consistency and sincerity will put him ahead.

Rebecca Jeffery | 31, Owner, Design & Marketing Agency

“People often foolishly mistake my enthusiasm for silliness or positivity for naivety. I’m proof that you can get things done without whinging.”


Rebecca is the owner of a marketing and design business, working as both the account manager and creative director.

She prides herself on being relentless and possessing an infectious enthusiasm, but admits that numbers and calculations are a weakness for her.

Samuel Boateng | 27, Sales Manager, Major Car Brand

“My creativity, my passion, my charm, and my likeability all roll into one, creating one perfect guy.”


Samuel is responsible for managing and generating new business for over 700 businesses across London. He regards his ability in developing new and innovative ideas to be his strongest business skill.

He says he has excellent public speaking abilities and admits he will be ‘on the charm offensive’, but doesn’t want to seem an easy target.

Sofiane Khelfa | 32, Senior Sales Executive, Technology

“The best survivors in the world are the people who adapt, and I’m the best at adapting. I’m like a chameleon. I adapt to anything, anywhere, anytime.”


Sofiane works in a high-end retail store, negotiating technology sales with high profile clients. He says he has the ability to adapt, deliver and build lasting relations with people in business, but his friends would say that he can sometimes be overzealous.

He believes when he gets down to business, his skills and personality will shine through.

Trishna Thakrar | 28, Recruitment Agent, IT

“My only tactic is to be myself; this alone will make sure I win.”


Trishna works for a large IT company to provide internal recruitment services. She used to play football semi-professionally, and says her friends would describe her as engaging and funny.

She believes her best business skill lies in her charm, but suspects her sensitivity could be her downfall as, if you cross her, she will not hold back.

The Apprentice returns Thursday 6th October at 9pm on BBC One

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