How nasty do you have to be to win 'The Apprentice'?

As the latest series starts this week, leaks about the new contestants suggest that past misdemeanours are excellent publicity – for them and the show

There are still three whole days before Lord Sugar fires the pistol, but the race to become this year's Apprentice is well under way in the weird world of leaked pre-publicity.

Since the line-up of 16 ball-breaking young men and women was announced last week, we have learnt, thanks to a carefully choreographed drip of redtop stories, that two of the contestants have criminal records, one has a formal warning from the NHS, and a fourth is a "gangland moll".

Christopher Farrell, 29, is a mortgage broker currently on the run in Spain having skipped bail from Devon and Cornwall police after being arrested on suspicion of fraud. His former boss has piped up to confirm she fired him from the imaginatively named West Country firm, Mortgages4Plymouth, and that he was escorted off the premises.

Then we learnt that Joanna Riley, a 25-year-old mother-of-two, was convicted of racially abusing three taxi drivers after a heavy night out. She pleaded guilty and was given a two-year conditional discharge.

Shibby Robati, described as a surgeon and business owner, is said to have had a string of complaints against him while working at St George's Healthcare NHS Trust, and now Stella English is reported to have grown up among south-east London's "most notorious crime families," and dated a couple of colourful characters.

Of course none of this will make a shred of difference to the outcome of the sixth series of The Apprentice, which is already in the can. But grabbing a few headlines ahead of Wednesday's opening episode is as vital to these ambitious young hopefuls as any humiliating task they will have to perform for His Sugariness.

As previous series have shown, it's not necessarily the winner who takes all. Take Saira Khan, the runner-up of the first series who became much more famous than Tim Campbell, the official victor. Khan is a regular pundit on business and Anglo-Asian affairs, has a column in the Daily Mirror and landed several TV gigs, including Celebrity Mastermind.

Ruth Badger, the runner-up of series two who was revealed by The Sun to be a lesbian who had divorced her husband, went on to host her own TV show, Badger or Bust.

But of course the biggest winner from all this publicity is Lord Sugar himself. If it weren't for The Apprentice, would Gordon Brown really have given him a seat in the House of Lords? Without all those column inches, we fear Lord Sugar would still be the half-remembered founder of a rather minor computer firm.

Winners and losers

Series 1

Tim Campbell beat Saira Khan in the final to land the £100,000 job at Amstrad, but Khan's career has been more enviable by far. She is a familiar face on TV, presenting Temper Your Temper and Beat the Boss, and has popped up on Ready Steady Cook. Campbell now speaks at "Business Roundtables", whatever they are.

Series 2

5.7 million viewers watched Michelle Dewberry pip Ruth Badger, though she quit working for Sugar after 11 months. The tabloids delighted in stories from Badger's ex-husband about her lesbian affairs, but she went on to host her own TV show on Sky One, Badger or Bust, and owns two successful businesses.

Series 3

With an IQ of 174, the Cambridge graduate Simon Ambrose was an impressive victor. But the runner-up, Kristina Grimes, had been the bookies' favourite and had no difficulty landing a lucrative contract immediately afterwards as director of a property lettings firm. Ambrose is now chairman of the London Contemporary Orchestra.

Series 4

Lee McQueen, a milkman's son, won despite lying on his CV that he had spent two years, not four months, at Thames Valley University (surely it would have been better not to have been at all?). The runner-up, Claire Young, won plaudits for her straight-talking and was offered a job at Birmingham City FC, but now runs her own wedding planning firm.

Series 5

Half-Iranian Yasmina Siadatan elbowed Kate Walsh aside at the eleventh hour, and now works for Sugar's Amscreen Healthcare. Meanwhile, Walsh, who was called "too perfect and robotic", has kept her name in lights, having a relationship with her fellow contestant Philip Taylor and landing jobs with GMTV and Five.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

Business, Marketing and Tourism Volunteer Projects

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: As part of an ongoing effort to support local...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal