Ten years on since the very first episode of The Apprentice aired in the UK and Tim Campbell won the inaugural competition, the show has churned out many more stars, whether winners or not. The prize and board members may have changed slightly but the initial format remains the same, still providing constant entertainment for viewers.
While Lord Alan Sugar is the one pulling the strings, it’s the candidates that really make the show. As we prepare for the show’s eleventh series which airs in autumn, let’s take a look at what happened to six of the most memorable candidates.
Ruth Badger (Series 2)
Probably the show’s first real star, and she didn’t even win! Nine years on many still believe Lord Sugar made a mistake by opting for Michelle Dewberry as the winner while the Badger finished as runner-up. She was tough and uncompromising, making her a great businesswoman and TV personality at the same time.
So much so that a year after The Apprentice she went on to host Badger or Bust on Sky One, where she helped failing businesses turn things around. Ruth made various guest appearances on other TV shows and now runs her own consultancy business and North West Money.
Katie Hopkins (Series 3)
Despite reaching the final three, Katie Hopkins became well known for being the only candidate to step down after getting so far. Throughout the competition she’d already established herself as a personality to watch, making critical comments of everyone from fellow contestants to shopping channel viewers.
Since then she’s appeared to make a career out of criticising others. Starting out by making a few appearances on Loose Women and writing a column for Exeter’s Express & Echo newspaper, she now has her own chat show and writes a regular column in The Sun. Constantly in the media due to controversial remarks, even Lord Sugar believes she was the most memorable candidate.
Raef Bjayou (Series 4)
Sharp suits and a suave demeanour made Raef an instant hit with the audience, especially when he buddied up with fellow contestant Michael Sophocles. His charm got him through much of the series before being dismissed as ‘a lot of hot air’ by Lord Sugar (but also ‘a really nice chap’).
Two years after his firing Raef was active in television a lot, appearing in episodes of 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Come Dine With Me and Tonight. In 2014 he co-founded Zephyr:Media, a multi-platform arts and media platform based in London.
Michael Sophocles (Series 4)
Raef’s partner in crime, the hapless Michael Sophocles, best demonstrated his incompetence when he failed to realise what kosher chicken was. The resulting exchange of Lord Sugar asking him ‘do you know what l’chaim means?’ and his response of ‘no, but I know what schmuck means’ was priceless.
After his firing Michael admitted in an interview to previously working as an escort and gambling during his years as a student. He’s hung on to the coattails of being an Apprentice candidate by writing a column for the Jewish Chronicle, so his lack of knowledge in that sector didn’t harm his reputation too badly.
Lucinda Ledgerwood (Series 4)
Series four had an eclectic range of colourful characters and few were more so than the brightly dressed Lucinda. Aside from her berets she proved to be a highly capable businesswoman, winning a record eight of her ten tasks and rising above some of the harsh treatment received from other contestants.
She went on to undertake some media work, as BBC assistant producer at Royal Ascot in 2008 and a cover host for BBC Radio London. As well as studying at Edinburgh Napier University, working in India and launching her own herbal medicine brews, she remains in business today.
Stuart Baggs (Series 6)
The Brand. His self-confidence was incredible and it led him far in the competition before his informal greeting of interviewer and ex-board member Margaret Mountford and fabrications on his application form proved his undoing. Still, as the youngest ever candidate at just 21 he did well, his quotes such as ‘everything I touch turns to sold’ living long in the memory.
Despite this setback he continued to run his telecommunications business from the Isle of Man after leaving the show. He sadly passed away aged just 27 after suffering an asthma attack in August 2015.
Hopefully the candidates for series 11 will prove just as entertaining and memorable this year and in another ten years’ time.