The Apprentice: The new victims in the line of fire

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

As the contest returns to our screens, Gerard Gilbert meets its new stars – and finds out who'll be giving 200 per cent

I will literally roar my way to the top...", "I would call myself 'the blonde assassin'...", "I truly am the reflection of perfection..." – yes – cue Prokofiev, cue the London skyline, and come on down the latest batch of 16 wallflowers (among them a wrestler, an architect and a former show-jumper) as The Apprentice returns for another 12-week run.

Click HERE or on 'view gallery' above to see the latest batch of hopefuls

And it's business as usual, or as Lord Sugar put it at yesterday's launch: "Why fix it if it ain't broke?" – the Labour peer once again offering a £250,000 investment in the winner's business. He's looking, he said, for a partner, not an employee – "The Marks to my Spencer, the Lennon to my McCartney". The Marx to my Lenin, he might have added with only the smallest of tweaks.

But don't expect anything revolutionary from his lordship, who used the press conference to attack "banker bashing", and to promote his show as instilling enterprise in the nation's youth. "One of the reasons I continue to do this programme is that I hope that it will provide a service to the young to try and dispel the fast buck culture," he said.

Nick Hewer and Karren Brady return, although there is one new star of the show – aerial shots of The Shard at London Bridge elbowing out Canary Wharf Tower, although if Sugar was hoping to imply that his boardroom was atop The Shard then the effect was rather broken by the incomplete apex of the skyscraper. And anyway, we all know the boardroom is a studio mock-up in somewhere far less glamorous.

The first task was the traditional boys vs girls, or Phoenix vs Sterling as the teams are to be known, decorating blank T-shirts, mugs and so on and selling them on at a profit. The boys made such a hash of their screen-printing that they might have been wiser to have flogged them outside the Tate Modern instead of to tourists on the South Bank. Future tasks include marketing English sparkling wine, "up-cycling" old furniture, and selling a Zumba-like fitness franchise.

Were there any off-screen romances, asked one journalist. Only Nick with the canteen lady, replied Sugar. "We couldn't help but note that he got bigger portions." Nick squinted enigmatically by way of a reply – not the sort of answer that contestants should give when quizzed by Sugar. Perhaps he should take note of the personalities that traditionally get the most screentime in the Apprentice arena:

The Bulldozer: They don't listen to their team-mates, and, rather more fatally, they don't listen to Lord Sugar when he tells them to shut up. Bulgarian-born "risk analyst" Bilyana Apostolova, 25, had better learn quick that discretion is the better part of not taking an early taxi home.

The Back-Seater: Sugar isn't going to tolerate shirkers this year. "We're not playing 'Where's Wally' here," he warned. However, the opening task leads to shouts of "Where's Katie", as 26-year-old Katie Wright, an "editorial and research director" from London, blends into the background.

The Back-Stabber: It's going to take a Machiavellian genius to beat Katie Hopkins's infamous hatchet job on fellow contestant Adam Hosker: "When your best friends are Mr Pino and Mr Grigo you wanna watch it." No early contenders have shown their hand yet, but then they wouldn't, would they?

The Blue Blood: It was traditionally assumed that Sugar was prejudiced against public-school accents, and certainly the likes of cravat-wearing Raif Bjayou didn't fare well. But last year's winner, Tom Pellereau, proved that a pukka accent need not be a disadvantage and that nice guys can come first.

The Buffoon: All hail Michael Sophocles, the Jewish lad who wasn't. During a task in Marrakesh, Sophocles turned out not to know what kosher meat was, instead asking a Muslim trader to "bless" his chicken. Sugar challenged him to prove his Jewish credentials by pulling his trousers down.

The Braggart: "Baggs the Brand" – aka the almost aptly named Stuart Baggs – got his comeuppance during the penultimate interview round in 2010. Promising braggarts this year include "recruitment team leader, Ricky Martin", who claims: "I truly am the reflection of perfection." Only the reflection, Ricky?

'The Apprentice' returns on Wednesday 21 March on BBC1

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea

film

In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops

film

Arts and Entertainment
Full circle: Wu-Tang’s Method Man Getty

Music review

Arts and Entertainment
When he was king: Muhammad Ali training in 'I Am Ali'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game