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The Apprentice 2017: Meet the candidates

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Gemma Strong
Gemma StrongOnline Digital News Director
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apprentice group1© Photo: BBC

The BBC's award-winning business show The Apprentice returns this autumn, premiering on Wednesday 4th October. Lord Sugar will put 18 new candidates through their paces in a series of challenges as they compete to win a life-changing £250,000 investment for their business, and Lord Sugar as their business partner.

Lord Sugar will be joined by Baroness Karren Brady and Claude Littner for the 13th series of the show, as the aspiring entrepreneurs embark on the gruelling 12 week selection process that will pit them against one another.

This year, the series has attracted applicants from a range of business sectors - from fashion and construction to floristry and engineering - who will have to adapt quickly to work as a team and avoid the boardroom firing. With tasks including creating a range of burgers, branding and selling robots, to planning a premium corporate experience at a sports event and running a doggy day care, the candidates will be tested outside of their comfort zones as they try to demonstrate their business know-how.

Click through the gallery to meet the 18 new candidates…

anisa topan© Photo: BBC

Name: Anisa Topan

Age: 36

Occupation: Owner, PR Fashion Agency

Lives: Surrey

Anisa owns her own fashion PR consultancy and by her own admission, is all action – and says she gets irritated if people are slow to grasp concepts. She admits she can find it hard to listen and sometimes misses things when she is excited about an idea, but is good at 'winning' in business.

She says: "I've got everything Lord Sugar needs in a business partner. I'm passionate, dynamic and persistent – he'll love that."

Bushra Shaikh© Photo: BBC

Name: Bushra Shaikh

Age: 34

Occupation: Owner, Clothing Company

Lives: Surrey

Bushra is owner and designer of her own modest fashion label, creating luxury apparel for Muslim women. Inspired by Coco Chanel, she believes her skills and determination are all she needs to succeed in The Apprentice, but she’s known to be pushy to get what she wants.

She says: "I've been raised not to be a pushover-in the words of Destiny’s Child, 'I'm an independent woman.'"

danny grant© Photo: BBC

Name: Danny Grant

Age: 32

Occupation: Owner, Online Retail Store

Lives: Kent

Daniel believes his best quality is his loyalty, but warns he's not 'a doormat' and his trust shouldn't be taken for granted. He runs an e-retail cosmetic business but admits to being disorganised and regularly leaving things to the last minute. He prides himself on being straightforward and honest, but can sometimes rub people up the wrong way 'because the truth is hard to hear'.

He says: "I don't get on with people with a stick up their arse."

elizabeth mckenna© Photo: BBC

Name: Elizabeth McKenna

Age: 39

Occupation: Owner Florist Chain

Lives: Nottinghamshire

Elizabeth describes herself as a 'slightly bonkers country girl' and has a love of dogs and horses. She is a hands on practical person and will have a go at doing any job. She thinks her killer business instincts mean she's good at making snap decisions, she says what she thinks and shoots from the hip.

She says: "My big feet are good for two things; getting me into trouble as they're as big as my mouth and I constantly get them stuck in it, but... they also kick butt."

Elliot Van Emden© Photo: BBC

Name: Elliot Van Emden

Age: 31

Occupation: Owner Legal Firm

Lives: London

To his mates, Elliot is nicknamed 'Tory boy' as he used to work in the office of David Cameron before he became Prime Minister. He believes 'what you see is what you get' with him, and he aims to band together with who he thinks are the stronger candidates early on to secure his place in the final.

He says: "Sometimes to get to the top, you have to grease the pole behind you."

harrison jones© Photo: BBC

Name: Harrison Jones

Age: 27

Occupation: Sales Executive

Lives: Watford

Harrison started his own landscaping business aged 19 and is currently working on a number of business ventures including property development, a healthy eating brand and a luxury streetwear brand. Fully aware that he must work hard to be successful, Harrison genuinely believes he has exactly what is needed to make this happen.

He says: "I have a good work ethic and am always willing to work to full capacity to achieve my goals."

jade english© Photo: BBC

Name: Jade English

Age: 25

Occupation: PR & Marketing Manager

Lives: Manchester

In her role as PR and marketing manager, Jade creates content to advertise and enhance her clients' presence on social media. She believes she has the ability to pick up on people’s behaviours, and therefore finds it easy to make friends and build rapport. She thinks her greatest business skills are her creativity and passion.

She says: "I'm extremely emotionally intelligent and able to get the best out of people. I am a brilliant negotiator and I'm not all talk – I put every weird idea into action and gets results."

jeff wan© Photo: BBC

Name: Jeff Wan

Age: 28

Occupation: Business Analyst

Lives: London

Jeff is a business analyst and semi-pro hip-hop dancer. Over the past 10 years he has trained several times a week, even performing at the O2 Arena. He hopes to succeed in business and build a legacy as admirable as Lord Sugar's empire. He has been a fan of The Apprentice since he was a teenager.

He says: "I bring character, charm and swagger to the table. Coupled with my professional and educational experience, I am sure I will be able to separate myself from the rest."

Joanna Jarjue© Photo: BBC

Name: Joanna Jarjue

Age: 23

Occupation: Digital Marketing Manager

Lives: Manchester

In her current role, Joanna creates multi-channel strategies to improve the digital footprint of companies. She considers being determined and a great talker to be her best qualities. She hates being patronised, but will remain resilient on the show.

She says: "My demeanour can be related to the saying 'Don't wake a sleeping lion' - If you underestimate me I might just bite."

Michaela Wain© Photo: BBC

Name: Michaela Wain

Age: 33

Occupation: Business Owner, Construction

Lives: Bolton

Michaela mostly works on the day-to-day operations of a construction magazine, alongside her role at several other companies in the building sector. She believes she is very easy-going and tries to see the positive in all situations, but admits she can sometimes have a short fuse. Working as a woman in a very male-dominated industry, she says she despises men who talk down to her.

She says: "I have no patience for people who say stupid stuff, and I can't cope with lazy people."

sarah lynn© Photo: BBC

Name: Sarah Lynn

Age: 35

Occupation: Owner Confectionery Company

Lives: London Sarah created and leads a sweet gifting business that focuses on confectionery products for retailers and corporate clients. She considers herself to be a 'people person', and believes her ability to sell is one of her greatest assets. She doesn't think she needs tactics to win, intending to simply be herself throughout the process.

She says: "Women are like tea bags – you don't know how strong they are until you put them in hot water."

siobhan smith© Photo: BBC

Name: Siobhan Smith

Age: 34

Occupation: Owner, Wedding Company

Lives: London

Siobhan owns and runs a wedding service company for couples in the UK who want to get married in Dubai. She considers herself to be very direct, but concedes people sometimes take her honesty the wrong way. Her role model is Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC – as 'at the age of 65, he had knocked on over 1,000 doors over a period of two years trying to sell his recipe before getting his first yes, he never gave up on his dream'. 

She says: "I fly aeroplanes, scuba dive, jump off cliffs, paraglide; I'm a blogger and a mother - as well as running my wedding planning business. A lot of people call me superwoman."

andrew brady© Photo: BBC

Name: Andrew Brady

Age: 26

Occupation: Project Engineer

Lives: Cheshire

Andrew, a project engineer in the aerospace industry, says his best business quality is his relentless work ethic. He cites his coal miner grandad as an inspiration as 'he was the hardest worker you could ever know', but admits he can't always hold his tongue, especially if people are not pulling their weight, which can get him into trouble. Andrew believes that his confidence will see him go far in the process.

He says: "I don't blow smoke up someone's behind. If someone deserves credit, I will give them it."

charles burns© Photo: BBC

Name: Charles Burns

Age: 24

Occupation: Management Consultant

Lives: Manchester

Charles has his fingers in many business pies, including a management consultancy, a watch trading company and a comparison website. He believes his best qualities are his passion, drive and determination but admits he can talk too much and doesn't always listen. He says as long as it's within the rules, he will stop at nothing to win.

He says: "When life throws you lemons, make and sell lemonade for a healthy profit."

james white© Photo: BBC

Name: James White

Age: 26

Occupation: Owner, Recruitment Firm

Lives: Birmingham

James runs his own IT recruitment business and considers his drive and ambition to be his best qualities – he believes no one has ambition like him. He says he also has good energy, and his charming nature works well in business. He used to have the nickname 'Del Boy', and enjoys white collar boxing as a hobby.

He says: "Intimidation is what motivates me. I want to be bigger and more successful than anyone else."

ross fretton© Photo: BBC

Name: Ross Fretten

Age: 29

Occupation: Digital Product Consultant

Lives: Essex

In his current job, Ross helps businesses launch and improve their digital products and services. He doesn't have a role model, preferring to trust his own judgement and forge his own path rather than following in the footsteps of others. He plans to sit back and let people 'dig their own graves' before burying them in the boardroom.

He says: "I'm usually the smartest person in any room and I'll make sure people know that."

sajan shah© Photo: BBC

Name: Sajan Shah

Age: 24

Occupation: Owner Event Company

Lives: London

Alongside running his business supplying entertainment to events, Sajan works at a health and safety consultancy as the Head of HR. He claims that the majority of candidates will be using him as their role model after the series, and believes his greatest quality is his ability to read people, but does admit that sometimes he doesn't listen enough.

He says: "I am like a Chinese dish – potent, deliciously driven, full of flavour and I sure do sizzle."

sarah jayne clark© Photo: BBC

Name: Sarah Jayne Clark

Age: 25

Occupation: Owner Clothing Company

Lives: Derbyshire

Sarah owns a ladies' fashion shop and believes her loyalty is one of her best qualities. She thinks it's vital to be determined and strong-willed in business. She loves being her own boss and cites that being herself and never letting her guard down will help her win.

She says: "I am the definition of a girl boss – I get things done and make things happen."

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