Lord Sugar is on the hunt for his 2023 business partner - but who has he fired and who did he hire?
The Apprentice welcomed 18 new candidates to the boardroom, where they will face the ruthless scrutiny of Lord Sugar and his aides Karren Brady and Claude Littner each week.
Read more: All the Apprentice 2023 candidates
With the show recently coming to a close, here's who won and the hopefuls that didn't make it.
Week 12: Rochelle Anthony and Marnie Swindells
Well, it’s finally arrived. This week saw this year’s two finalists go head-to-head in one last bid to come out on top and be crowned Lord Sugar’s new business partner.
After surviving 11 weeks of challenges and business scrutiny, it was time for finalists Rochelle Anthony, who owns a promising salon and hair academy and boxing gym entrepreneur Marnie Swindells to pitch their businesses to a room full of industry experts at a glitzy investment dinner with Lord Sugar in attendance.
As an extra surprise, a handful of this year’s previous candidates joined Anthony and Swindells to form teams and help them present their propositions in the best way possible.
Helping Swindells package her Bronx boxing gym were returning faces Megan Hornby, Simba Rwambiwa, Bradley Johnson and Sohail Chowdhary. Meanwhile, Joe Phillips, Dani Donovan, Avi Sharma and Victoria Goulbourne were on hand to help Anthony bring her hair salon academy dreams to life.
After a high-pressure pitch event, Swindells and Anthony headed back to the boardroom where Lord Sugar had the difficult task of deciding which business would get his support and £250K investment.
“Marnie, it is such a crowded and competitive market. I’m thinking, ‘is this £250,000 down the drain?'” began Lord Sugar, contemplating his choices.
“Rochelle, what worries me about you is why would your second and third branch would be popular and make me and you money?" he added.
Ultimately, it came time for him to make a choice: “I’ve always been known to be a gambler, I’ve always been known to try new horizons so I’m going to try a new horizon… Marnie, you are going to be my business partner.”
As the winner of The Apprentice’s 17th series drove away in a Rolls Royce, a clearly exuberant Swindells said: “What an incredible opportunity and moment for a girl like me to get to a place like this and have become Lord Sugar’s business partner. It feels strange to even say that, but I’m not going to stop saying it because I am so happy.”
The Apprentice 2023 fired candidates in order:
Week 11: Victoria Goulbourne and Dani Donovan
It’s week 11 and with Lord Sugar’s group of business hopefuls dwindling, everyone has to be on top form to ensure they make it to next week’s final.
During this series’ penultimate episode, remaining contestants Marnie Swindells, Victoria Goulboure, Rochelle Raye Anthony, Dani Donovan and Megan Hornby had their business plans put under the microscope — but the process proved too much for three entrepreneurs.
After having their ideas scrutinized by industry experts Claude Littner, Karren Brady, Linda Plant and Mike Soutar, Lord Sugar ultimately decided to give Dani Donovan, Megan Hornby and Victoria Goulbourne the boot.
“The thing is Victoria there is nothing unique about your business. Frankly, you know I am not sweet on your idea I’m afraid,” Lord Sugar told sweet shop owner Goulbourne before letting her go from the competition.
Next up was Donovan, and Lord Sugar didn’t hold back: “Your business plan was really, really bad,” he told the hair salon owner,” adding “I am not sure there’s going to be any extension to your time in this process.”
However, just when viewers thought two firings were shocking enough, the show’s big boss decided to fire Hornby from the process too, in a move inspired by following his gut.
With just two contestants left to go into next week’s finale, it truly is anyone’s game.
Week 10: Simba Rwambiwa
With episode 10 airing this week, room for error in Britain's toughest boardroom is getting smaller and smaller.
This time, Lord Sugar's business partner hopefuls were tasked with creating a brand new dog food that would delight our four-legged friends but it was a job that resulted in Senior Sales Representative Simba Rwambiwa getting canned.
The Birmingham-based entrepreneur was seen frequently butting heads with his Apex team partner Dani Donovan and when their dog chow failed to earn a tasty profit, Rwambiwa quickly found himself back in the boardroom.
Lord Sugar didn't hold back either, telling the recently-fired contestant that "you don't say anything worth listening to" before adding "Simba it's not your day." Pretty soon, Rwambiwai was hearing the words no apprentice wants to hear, as Lord Sugar informed him that "it is with regret, you're fired."
With that, the show's final remaining male presence exited the competition and with just two episodes left, this series' female founders found themselves one step closer to that coveted business partnership.
Week 9 - Avi Sharma and Bradley Johnson
Week nine saw a brutal double firing in the boardroom, with both City banker Avi Sharma and construction company director Bradley Johnson given the chop.
Johnson was first in the firing line as Lord Sugar said after the task to create male beauty products: "Disgrace, total disgrace. Bradley, three times project manager, three times you’ve tried to change the product when you’re pitching it. I’ve told you before, I don’t ever want to see you back in this boardroom again, and I’ll tell you what, I’m never going to see you back in this boardroom again. Bradley – you’re fired."
He added that there would be a second firing and eventually settled on Sharma, saying: "Avi, that concoction you put it on your skin, and it dyed your skin green…Avi, you’ve grown in this process since you came here and I’m very pleased about that for you. But it is regretful, that Avi, you’re fired."
Week 8 - Mark Moseley
The pest control company owner from London was fired after his team lost an immersive experience task.
Moseley and his team sold tickets to an entertainment experience where guests pretended to be in jail, but customers complained that they had not been told in advance they would be shouted at.
After he was fired, Moseley said of Lord Sugar: "He would have got his money back within the first year if he’d invested in me but as long as he knows I’m the best rat catcher in town that’s the main thing."
Week 7 - Sohail Chowdhary
Martial arts school owner Sohail Chowdhary's time was up after a task to create a lunchbox and healthy eating app for primary school kids.
Chowdhary, who had been his team's leader, said: "It’s very different compared to what you expect. Everyone is watching the show and you’re like ‘Oh, they’re a bunch of idiots, I can do that’. Then when you’re on the show, you become one of those idiots. It’s a lot more tricky compared to what it looks like on TV.
"But either way, I’m so happy that I did it because it’s been such a surreal experience. The exposure has been insane, the amount of opportunities that come off the back of it has been incredible."
Week 6 - Joe Phillips
Zoologist Joe Phillips, who works as a safari guide in South Africa, fell foul of the Dubai-based corporate away day task in week six.
Teams were asked to design bonding days for two international companies based in the UAE, but the team Phillips was on lost the challenge.
Back in the UK boardroom, Lord Sugar told him: "Joseph, you were responsible for the kitchen and ultimately that was one of the reasons for the failure of this task. The food was burnt, and the service was poor, so it is with regret Joe, you’re fired."
Phillips said: "I’m a zoologist and I’ve been thrown into the business world. I’ve learnt so much from this process and I can’t wait to take that knowledge and apply it to my own business and hopefully make a success of it."
Week 6 - Reece Donnelly
Glasgow theatre school owner Reece Donnelly became the second candidate to leave this series without being fired.
He fell ill during a corporate away day challenge in Dubai and had to quit the process when he was unable to complete the task.
Donnelly said: "I could not continue in The Apprentice due to being unable to complete the task in Dubai for health reasons.
"My goal of being on The Apprentice was to showcase that Scotland has amazing businesses and entrepreneurs. I really hope I’ve done that.
"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on the show and I’m looking forward to watching my fellow candidates in the rest of the series. I’m so grateful for my time with Lord Sugar and the team."
Week 5 - Shazia Hussain
The tech recruiter from London was fired in the week five boardroom over an electric motorbike task that Lord Sugar said was riddled with mistakes.
Hussain had said she felt that having ADHD meant that she was able to work quicker than others, and said after leaving that she hoped to have inspired other neurodiverse candidates.
She said: "It’s important to see a varied representation of women, including women with neurodiversity in business… I hope that I’ll encourage more people like me not to be ashamed of their difference."
Week 4 - Denisha Kaur Bharj
The Leicestershire businesswoman who was looking for investment in her false eyelash business became the fourth candidate fired from the process.
Bharj was team captain for the scavenger hunt challenge, which this year saw candidates visit Brighton to find bargains on a shopping list.
However, her team lost after failing to find three items on the list, racking up fines, and Lord Sugar told her: "You're no good at logistics, it was like organised chaos."
Week 3 - Gregory Ebbs
The online antiques dealer and local councillor became the third contestant to be given his marching orders by Lord Sugar.
Ebbs fell foul of a tough task working with preschoolers when the teams were tasked with creating cartoons for children aged two to four, who were largely unimpressed.
The candidate hit the headlines in the week leading up to his firing as one of the sellers using his antiques site had been selling Nazi memorabilia, which Ebbs apologised for.
Week 2 - Kevin D'Arcy
In week two, accountant Kevin D'Arcy became the second candidate to be fired when he crashed out of the bao buns task.
D'Arcy took the blame for pricing his team's market stall bao buns too low, but had no hard feelings about his time on the show.
He said: “Looking back, you remember the best bits and the fun times. You remember how much you laughed and got on with the other candidates.
“Overall, I think I met some amazing people. People I perhaps wouldn’t meet in my normal life, and I think being one of the slightly older contestants, it was interesting to meet some of the younger candidates and understand what they’re into and what their interests are.”
Week 2 - Shannon Martin
There were actually two departures in week two, as bridal boutique owner Shannon Martin decided to quit even though her team won the task.
She explained: “I think that going into the process, I was already having some doubts of whether I should go in or not.
“But when you’re given such an amazing opportunity, you’re not ever going to turn that down, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime that I’m forever grateful for.”
Read more: All The Apprentice winners so far
She added: “But I’m a perfectionist, I need to know what’s going on all the time and not being able to know how things were going on at home or what was happening at work was really hard for me. The unknown is definitely not something I’m good at.
“The more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘Am I in here for the right reasons? Do I really want a business partner? Is this what I want? Do I want my life to change?’ and it really made me realise I love my life, I love the team and I love everything about my life.
“I knew that I could potentially win the show, and did I really want to win and have my life completely changed? No, I didn’t. I wasn’t in there for the right reasons.”
Week 1 - Emma Browne
The series got off to an exciting start as the candidates jetted off to the Caribbean on a mission to sell holidaymakers sightseeing tours of Antigua.
But for senior account executive Emma Browne, it was the end of the road on her Apprentice journey as she was the first person to be fired.
She said: “I’m not going to be a sore loser. I put myself forward and someone had to go. I’m not painful about it.
“I spent so much time doing a business plan that I probably wouldn’t have spent as much time doing if it wasn’t for The Apprentice.”
Browne, from County Kildare, added of Lord Sugar: “If he had been there during the task, his opinion could have been completely different, but I suppose that he’s made his decision from other people’s judgments.”
The Apprentice continues on Thursdays at 9pm on BBC One.