New Apprentice contestants unveiled

A former cycling champion and a trained actress are among the contestants battling to work alongside Lord Sugar for the new series of The Apprentice.

They also include a teenage market stall worker turned business psychologist and an entrepreneur who has previously won a "women of the future" business award.

The business wannabes will be put through their paces to land a role as Lord Sugar's business partner when the BBC1 series returns next week.

And the business guru has already warned the latest intake they can not rely on his business acumen to succeed when he pumps £250,000 into their start-up venture.

"Don't expect me to be doing all the work because I'm not looking for a 'sleeping' partner," he said. "I'm not Saint Alan, the patron saint of bloody losers - you can look at it as a bit of an uncivil partnership, so to speak."

This year's wannabes include Iranian-born Melody Hossaini, 26, who is a director of her own consultancy business and won a Woman Of The Future award in 2008.

Sales and marketing manager Jim Eastwood, 32 and from Northern Ireland, began his career working in his dad's chip shop and was All Ireland cycling champion in his teens.

Another contestant - Felicity Jackson, 23 - trained as an actress and has set up a company to help other budding drama stars with career development and networking.

Edna Agbarha, 36, worked on a stall at London's Covent Garden and later trained as a business psychologist, setting up her own consultancy.

They are among a line-up of 16 hopefuls who are taking part in the seventh series - which begins on May 10 - tackling 12 gruelling tasks.

Lord Sugar is joined once more by Karren Brady and Nick Hewer as he whittles down the team to one final winner who will benefit from the cash investment, rather than a role at one of Lord Sugar's companies as has happened previously.

Over the series, the contestants will be set tasks such as designing a mobile phone application, creating a new pet food and launching a magazine to prove they have the cut-throat abilities to succeed.

* The Apprentice returns on Tuesday May 10 at 9pm on BBC1.

Click here for the rivals chasing Lord Sugar's cash in pictures