"Like The Only Way Is Apprentice" is how fired contestant Jaz Ampaw-Farr described her first impressions when she came face to face with the rest of the girls team for this year's series of 'The Apprentice'.
"I had 11/2 inch heels on from Marks and Spencer's, and I thought I'd gone all out," she reports. "But when I got in there, it was like 'The Only Way is Apprentice'."
Jaz, surrounded by some of her more groomed rivals, before she got the axe
Lord Sugar has denied glamming up the female contingent this year, but mother-of-three Jaz definitely has some other ideas.
"I haven't used the word Louboutins in about 20 years, and I used it four times in a week," she says. "I never wear makeup normally, and I was just praying that my bum wouldn't be the biggest. But when I'm the most normal-looking person in the room, you know you've got some weirdos.
"I went in convinced I was going to win, but we all do," says Jaz
"It was a new experience for me. I learned a lot," she says happily. "Spanx... the works... I kept hearing about these dolly birds, and I was hoping I'd be included, but apparently not."
Despite becoming the first person to be fired from this year's 'Apprentice' series, Jaz is adamant that she couldn't have done anything different, including putting herself up as team leader for the very first task.
"I just wanted to be myself, the person my family would recognise, and that was that person. I followed my instinct. That works for me 99% of the time, it only failed me the 1% of the time that everybody was watching. What can you do?"
Was there a single thing that went wrong as she marched her troops around London, trying to sell the contents of a massive shipping crate? She assures me not. "We thought we were going to win. At one point, I opened the boys' crate by mistake, saw a bunch of ukuleles still in there, loads unsold, and thought we were on our way to victory.
"I have to say, though... to lose by just £58 is gutting."
The cats didn't prove a lucky charm for Jaz and her team, left floundering at 9am in Chinatown
Despite being his first sacking, Jaz is full of praise for Lord Sugar, and the respect he commands in the boardroom:
"He's exactly what you see on the TV. He's not a monster, if somebody gets upset, he makes sure they get a glass of water.
"I used to think that when everybody said 'Thankyou, Lord Sugar' in unison, it was all rehearsed. But it's not. It's like he's this granddad and headmaster all rolled into one, he commands this reverence."
Her winner's tip? "I would love the final to have Francesca and Neil in it. She has a great business plan, and he comes across as an arrogant idiot, but in reality, he helps little old ladies across the road, so I hope it's them.
"I was convinced I was going to win, but we all do."
And for Jaz, failure to launch on the show just means she's had to adapt her own business plan which focuses on improving literacy skills in young children and developing alternative digital resources. She sounds irrepressible and tireless, one for Lord Sugar to keep his eye on, as the show will be the poorer without her, and very much quieter.
So who has what it takes? Let's meet this year's candidates...
Age: 32 Occupation: Dance and Entertainment Entrepreneur Lives: Leeds, UK A classically trained dancer, one of Francesca’s first jobs was teaching baby ballet at her local dance studios. She is now is the founder and director of a dance studio, a professional dance agency and a lookalike agency. She describes herself as determined, driven and fun, and quotes Debbie Moore and Arlene Phillips as the business figures she is most inspired by, for their creativity and vision. She cites being a hard-worker as her greatest strength, though admits she can be a ‘control freak’ at times. She says: “I’m prepared to fight to the death to become Lord Sugar’s business partner.”
Age: 26 Occupation: Health Drink Entrepreneur and Health & Safety Manager Lives: Liverpool, UK Kurt says his friends would describe him as intelligent, argumentative and ambitious. His first job was washing dishes as a kitchen porter and he says his greatest business achievement to date is running his own smoothie business after suffering many knock-backs and rejections. He says: “I’m an alpha male; I always get my own way and know how to make people do what I want.”
Age: 25 Occupation: Retail Entrepreneur Lives: St Albans, UK Mother-of-one Luisa describes herself as confident, logical and outspoken and cites her greatest business achievement to be the ability to create new jobs through the success of her businesses. She lists her favourite business brands as Christian Louboutin and Virgin Atlantic for their strong brand identities. Her first job was as a Saturday girl in an estate agent and she now owns her own cupcake shop, baking website and electronics business. She says: “I have the energy of a Duracell bunny, sex appeal of Jessica Rabbit, and a brain like Einstein.”
Age: 27 Occupation: CEO of Property Investment Company Lives: London, UK Zeeshaan, who grew up in Pakistan, believes his greatest strengths are that he is an eternal optimist, street-smart and well-connected. He says his weaknesses would include bossiness and that he can’t do something if his heart isn’t in it. Starting his career as a part-time waiter, he believes his greatest business achievement is still yet to come. He says: “I’m a ‘Great’ of my generation. I’m an innovator and leader in business. I take inspiration from Napoleon; I am here to conquer.”
Age: 41 Occupation: Literacy and Education Company Director Lives: Milton Keynes, UK Married mother-of-three Jaz began her career as a teacher and is passionate about children’s education and learning. She believes her strengths to be her tenacity and determination, while her weakness is that she has no time for those that don’t share her business vision. Her interests include stand-up comedy and lifestyle photography. She says: “I’m half machine. I can process things at a speed that is out of this world!”
Age: 22 Occupation: Company Director Lives: Cardiff, UK Alex says his greatest strengths lie in design and calculations and he describes himself as passionate, hardworking and determined. He began his working life as a housekeeper in a hotel and started his first company at 19. He is inspired in business by brands such as Tom Ford and figures such as James Caan, and enjoys playing the guitar and sport shooting in his spare time. He says: “I’m an old head on young shoulders. I believe that I’m the new breed of businessman that this process requires.”
Age: 24 Occupation: Doctor Lives: London, UK Born in Northern Ireland, Leah now lives in London and is kept busy by her work as a practising doctor. She is passionate about medicine and health and says her friends would describe her as caring, kind and professional, though she can be too ambitious. She says: “I’m very hard working and feel I can bring youth, vibrancy, enthusiasm and a touch of class to any business I’m part of.”
Age: 29 Occupation: Historian and Property Entrepreneur Lives: London, UK Born in Athens, Jason says he has never been ‘formally employed’, instead remaining self-employed and a student throughout his career to date. His hobbies include gardening and croquet and he lists his passions as knowledge and language. He cites himself as a devotee of Question Time and says that the brands he has the most respect for are John Lewis/Waitrose and American Express, as they stand for quality and high-standard customer service. He says: “Some people might come to this process with a game plan. I just feel my effortless superiority will take me all the way.”
Age: 22 Occupation: Restaurateur Lives: Bristol, UK Malaysian-born Sophie says her greatest strengths are creativity and the ability to ‘think outside the box’, but her weakness is mental arithmetic. She first worked as a catering company waitress and at the age of 19, began running her own restaurant whilst still studying as a student. She is passionate about food and describes herself as innovative and intelligent. She says: “I don’t have a multi-million pound business but what I do have is the raw talent, the drive and the competitive streak.”
Age: 26 Occupation: Business Analyst Lives: London, UK Jordan says his first experience in business was at the age of six, selling his family’s litter of kittens in the playground. He describes himself as optimistic, charismatic and calm under pressure, though he thinks he can also be unforgiving and finds it difficult to ask for help. He enjoys going to technology events and recording his own podcasts and is passionate about encouraging young people to start their own businesses. He says: “I’ve worked in third world countries and first world countries. I know what it’s like to struggle to feed kids and I know what it’s like to fly in a private jet.”
Age: 30 Occupation: Recruitment Manager Lives: Rickmansworth, UK Natalie’s first job was as a pub waitress and says her dad is her business inspiration, as he built his success from nothing through his strong work ethic. Her passions include fashion and money and she is also a trained jazz singer and qualified make-up artist. She says her friends would describe her as headstrong, determined and caring, though one of her most annoying habits can be interrupting people. She says: “When it comes to business, I am the complete package and when it comes to sales, I’m the best.”
Age: 39 Occupation: Marketing Company Co-Founder Lives: Monaco, Monaco Myles has lived in Monaco for the past 10 years and says that people would describe him as passionate, charming and determined, but he can be too much of a perfectionist. He was a professional racing driving for a short period of time and he now works in luxury brand marketing. He says the business figures that most inspire him are Bernie Ecclestone and Richard Branson, for their vision and commercial power. He says: “I’m business perfection personified.”
Age: 32 Occupation: Entrepreneur and Make-Up Brand Owner Lives: London, UK Uzma describes herself as confident, creative and spiritual, though says she can lack patience. She has set up a non-profit organisation to help women reach out to one another in times of need and lists being nominated for an Asian Women of Achievement Awards as one of her greatest business achievements. She says the brand she is most inspired by is MAC, because they have created a product that most women think they can’t live without. She says: “If I believe in something, I will go to the end to make sure it’s done.”
Age: 32 Occupation: Regional Manager – Soccer Centres Lives: Altrincham, UK Neil says he would be described as focussed, determined and driven by those that know him well, though his weaknesses include being overly competitive and very opinionated. He is a Manchester United supporter and plays football regularly in an amateur league, having played semi-professionally in the past. One of his first jobs was in telesales, which he cites as the role that kicked off his career. He says: “I’m here to win. If that means being tough and making tough decisions, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
Age: 35 Occupation: Medical Rep Lives: Wigan, UK Rebecca would describe herself as authentic, generous and adventurous, though says she can be very impatient. Now working in medical sales, her first job was in a Post Office shop. She lists Alex Polizzi and Mary Portas as business figures that inspire her because they are willing to take on any challenge. She says: “I’m a pretty tough person. I don’t let people walk all over me in life or in business. And if somebody crosses me, it’s game over.”
Age: 23 Occupation: Mexican Food Entrepreneur Lives: Birmingham, UK Tim lists his passions in life as food, travel, business and money, and the achievement he is most proud of is launching a business while still studying in his final year at university. He describes himself as happy-go-lucky, energetic and with a ‘never give up’ attitude, though admits he can lack focus. Moving up from his first job on a paper round to starting a leaflet distribution service before founding his catering company, Tim now wants to use business as a vehicle to bring new culinary experiences to people. He says: “I’m definitely a team player. I’m not a lone ranger in any sense of the word.”