After twelve grueling weeks battling it out against Britain’s brightest business brains, 31-year-old inventor Tom Pellereau has beaten 15 other candidates to land the unprecedented prize of a business partnership with Lord Sugar along with an investment of up to £250,000.
In this evening's tense Apprentice 2011 final, Tom battled it out in a four-way final against 30-year-old executive assistant Helen Milligan, 21-year-old natural skin care entrepreneur Susan Ma and 32-year-old Sales & Marketing Manager Jim Eastwood.
In their toughest task yet, the finalists came face to face with Lord Sugar’s most unforgiving business associates; ruthless troubleshooter Claude Littner, pioneer of Britain's free magazine business Mike Soutar, chief executive with a business worth over £300m and former Young Entrepreneur of the Year Matthew Riley as well as patron of the Bright Ideas Trust and eyebrow raising confidant Margaret Mountford.
Although Tom came under fire for his business proposal which was based around a chair but failed to mention the world “chair”, his likeability and amicable approach to business proved a hit with the board.
As Lord Sugar debated his final decision, Karren Brady advised: “Think of all the candidates we have, he is the one that would most benefit from your involvement. Because he is an inventor he does have ideas but he doesn’t have that cutting commercial edge that you could contribute.”
In the nail-biting final boardroom scene, faced with a tough decision, Lord Sugar debated Tom’s business idea: “Now it’s time for me to get realistic about the person I’m going to go into business with. Tom there is some potential in offering a chair with a unique USP but wasting time talking to companies about testing their employees, that aint gonna work.”
With Susan and Jim fired it was a closely contended head to head between the final two Helen and Tom, but Lord Sugar’s disappointment in Helen’s proposal for a concierge service overshadowed her flawless track record, leaving Tom to take gold in what he has called “the Olympics for entrepreneurs.”
Deciding on his winner Lord Sugar said: “Tom you’ve got the experience in making, inventing and selling stuff. The current business idea needs tweaking and that’s what business is all about. My decision is – Tom; You’re going to become my business partner.”
After the final Tom said: “I’ve gone from being on the other side of the table to being on the same piece of paper at Companies House! I just can’t wait to get started.”
Meanwhile speaking on You’re Hired Lord Sugar said: “I am a product man in my heart. I’ve made products and sold them to retailers, that’s in my blood and that’s what Tom is all about. It’s just a gut feeling and I’ve done a lot of things in my life on gut feeling.”
Speaking about runner-up Helen he added: “This year, because of the economic climate, I wanted to demonstrate that people can still start a business from scratch. In Helen’s case, if this was the old system where I gave someone a job, quite clearly she would have walked it.”
One opportunity. 16 candidates. Lord Sugar’s search for his business partner has come to an end.