13/03/2012 09:34 GMT

The Apprentice: Lord Sugar's 16 Candidates Revealed (PHOTOS)

Lord Sugar has unveiled the 16 contestants hoping to become The Apprentice 2012 champion.

The entrepreneurial show will return to BBC One on Wednesday 21st March at 9pm, as Lord Sugar's aides Nick Hewer and Karren Brady help him whittle down the tough from the weak, dynamic and brainy from the ridiculous.

This year's ambitious 16 contestants will compete to earn an investment from the straight-talking businessman. They are: Michael Copp, Azhar Siddique, Nick Hozherr, Tom Gearing, Duane Bryan, Adam Corbally, Ricky Martin, Stephen Brady, Laura Hogg, Maria O'Connor, Jenna Whittingham, Jane McEvoy, Bilyana Apostolova, Gabrielle Omar, Katie Wright and Jade Nash.

Last series Tom Pellereau won The Apprentice after pitching a business which aimed to reduce the financial and personal costs of employee back pain through specialist chairs.

This week he is due to launch his first product since he won the hit BBC show last year, which Lord Sugar says he has "been working on day and night".

Previously winners were given a job at Sugar's Amstrad company but, since Yasmina Siadatan quit last month, no Apprentice victors remain under the entrepreneur's employment.

Meet this year's contestants in the slideshow below...