"It was really disappointing to get so close to winning it," says Tom Gearing the runner up of The Apprentice 2012.

"We applied for it 12 months ago so to get all that way and then fail at the final hurdle was really disappointing. But I'm really happy for Ricky, I think he's a really credible candidate and there's mutual respect between the two of us."

MORE APPRENTICE: Lord Sugar Toasts His Winning Candidate

RICKY MARTIN: What He's Planning To Give Up Now He's Won...

Tom led his team to victory two out of three times as Project Manager and only appeared in the final boardroom twice, but when it came to his business plan Lord Sugar didn't seem to want to take the risk.

APPRENTICE CANDIDATE PROFILE: Tom Gearing - 'Some People Say I'm Quite Good-Looking'

Does Tom think he took the safe option?

"I suppose so. He did say he's getting on later in life now and he didn't want to take a risk... I like to think it was a tough decision for him."

Tom, the London-born director of an investment company, was the youngest of the finalists, aged just 23 - a fact that was brought up time and time again during the final episode. Did he feel it was unfair to discount him on his age?

"Not at all, every single candidate has got pluses and negatives on their character and their experience and one of the things I don't have on my side is years of experience. The interview stage is supposed to be tough," he says.

Despite his young age, Tom impressed in the series due to his strong business and strategic sense, intellect and ability to take a risk.

However, his £25m investment hope was one of things that put Lord Sugar off and Tom admits it might be time to lower his asking price: "I might well throttle it back as Lord Sugar said and aim a little bit lower."

The Apprentice finalists in action...

Loading Slideshow...
  • The Apprentice Final - all pictures: BBC

  • The Apprentice Final - all pictures: BBC

  • The Apprentice Final - all pictures: BBC

  • The Apprentice Final - all pictures: BBC

  • The Apprentice Final - all pictures: BBC

  • The Apprentice Final - all pictures: BBC

  • The Apprentice Final - all pictures: BBC

  • The Apprentice Final - all pictures: BBC