Apprentice winner accuses partner of running off with $1m prize money


What do a female plumber from Somerset, an Arab property magnate with a fondness for buying English football clubs and an eco-friendly Los Angeles architect have in common? The answer is they all feature in an intriguing legal battle over just who gets a share of the $1m dollar prize money from a Middle Eastern version of The Apprentice.

In a saga which if nothing else highlights the global nature of the celebrity business, Hannah Dodkin, a 32-year-old plumber whose engagement to actor and BT advert star Kris Marshall was announced recently, this week filed a court case in California claiming she is owed some $500,000 (£323,000) by Richard Best, her co-winner of a reality TV show filmed in Abu Dhabi.

The dispute arises from the pair’s participation in Hydra Executives, a spin-off based on The Apprentice format and filmed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in which the “Lord Sugar” role was taken by Sulaiman Al Fahim, a billionaire developer who is best known in Britain for his role in the takeover of Manchester City and his short-lived ownership of Portsmouth FC.

Ms Dodkin, from Dulcote, near Wells, claims in court documents filed in Los Angeles that Mr Best, an architect specialising in eco-friendly buildings, signed a contract with her - signed in front of cameras - prior to the grand final of the reality show in March 2009 in which she would get a half share of the top prize and embark on a jointly-owned interior design company together.

Mr Best eventually emerged as the winner of the programme with Ms Dodkin, who has since returned to Somerset and her work as a plumbing and heating engineer, recognised as partner on the victorious team.

But nearly three years later, the businesswoman is still waiting for her money and accuses her co-finalist of reneging on the deal, arguing she is entitled to the £323,000 and the accrued interest because of a breach of contract and his alleged failure to pursue their business plan.

Ms Dodkin told The Independent: “This is not a nice position to be in. I signed a contract with Richard in front television cameras in which he agreed to share the prize money. It is difficult to understand on what basis he thinks he can now keep all of it.”

According to the legal documents, Mr Best eventually received the full $1m prize in January 2010.

The court claim said: “Richard Best and Hannah Dodkin formed the winning team. They agreed to share the winning prize 50/50 and also to embark on a business venture with each serving as an equal partner... On February 10 2010, Richard Best informs plaintiff that he will not share any of the winning prize money with Ms Dodkin.”

Ms Dodkin was a surprise addition to the line up of finalists for the television show after she was eliminated in the ninth show of the contest being fought out between eight British and eight American would-be entrepreneurs.

Mr Al Fahim, who is not a defendant in the legal claim, is quoted in the court document as telling Ms Dodkin to “go after the money and get the finalists to do your business plan, not their own”. The tycoon, who came to prominence during the takeover of Manchester City in 2008, attracted controversy in 2009 when he acquired then Premier League side Portsmouth FC for a reported £60m and then sold it 40 days later to a Saudi businessman.

Mr Best did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent.

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN (SLD/PMLD) Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Currently looking for teachers ...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

QA/BA - Agile

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?