From across the UK and Ireland, this year’s selection of entrepreneurial hopefuls have come to London to face the biggest challenge of their careers – fighting it out in a business battle over 12 tough tasks to impress multi-millionaire tycoon, Lord Sugar.
The candidates’ CVs reveal everything from a professional wrestler, a show jumper and a shark diver to entrepreneurs in fields as varied as architecture, beauty, bridal, technology, fine wine and greengrocery.
But Lord Sugar is the same hard to please boss he always has been, warning the candidates at the top of the first episode: “This is not about a job anymore and I’m not looking for a friend, if I wanted a friend I’d get a dog.
"I’m looking for a partner, the ‘Marks’ to my ‘Spencer’, the ‘Lennon’ to my ‘McCartney’. This is about me investing £250,000 into a business with one of you and I’m expecting you, as the so called entrepreneurs, to make the money for me.”
He adds: “Some of you may come here with preconceived plans of how this is going to play out. Let me give you a warning, don’t try and hide. We’re not playing ‘Where’s Wally’ here. I’m not looking for Lord Lucan, I’m looking for somebody who is going to put themselves forward and show me that they have got the aggression and business acumen to be my partner.”
To help him keep an eye on how the candidates perform over the 12 challenging tasks, Lord Sugar will be aided once again by his trusted advisors Nick Hewer and Karren Brady.
It will be the candidates’ plan and Lord Sugar’s money, but in order to get it a punishing selection process awaits. This year’s candidates face a series of demanding tasks, each designed to push their skills to the limit.
Episode one follows the candidates as they are split into two teams, boys versus girls, with Nick and Karren closely monitoring their every move. Appropriately, in the first task the prospective candidates must start with a blank canvas. The teams are set the challenge of starting their own print businesses.
They must buy £500 worth of bare materials, from mugs to mouse mats, create designs to print on to them and then sell their unique products to the public. The decision of what products to choose and which customers to target is theirs but only one factor will be considered in the first boardroom showdown – who has made the most profit?
The Apprentice 2012 will air on BBC One and BBC One HD and will be repeated on BBC Three.