List of The Apprentice candidates (British series 12)

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The following is a list of candidates from the British reality television series The Apprentice (British series 12).

Candidates are listed alphabetically. Where a date of birth is not provided, the age given is as of the time the series aired.

Frances Bishop[edit]

Frances Bishop, aged 25, is the owner of a children's clothing company. She lives in Doncaster with her husband, Mansfield Town midfielder Neal Bishop. They have one child together, Oscar. Bishop also competed in several beauty pageants, including Miss Nottingham and Miss Great Britain. Despite dropping out of university, she managed to open up her own boutique that specializes in children's apparel. She describes herself as a "pocket rocket", talkative with a feisty personality, but extremely unorganized. She also describes herself as anti-WAG, a woman who should be independent and successful without the help of a boyfriend/husband who is a professional athlete.

Bishop was on the Nebula team for most of the tasks, which lost the first six in a row, tying the record for most tasks lost consecutively with teammate Rebecca Jeffrey and Elle Stevenson from last year's series. She was appointed project manager for the boat show task, and led Nebula to its first victory in a landslide result. Despite the change in fortunes, Bishop only won just one other task in the process, and appeared twice in the final boardroom. Bishop's eight losses also tied with Series 7 winner Tom Pellereau for the most tasks lost in a series. This worked against her in the interviews stage, with Claude Littner even asking how she lasted so long in the process.

Her business plan was to expand her clothing shops across the United Kingdom. However, Lord Sugar was concerned over how her business could be scaled into a nationwide brand, along with serious concerns over her organizational skills. These glaring issues were ultimately fatal and she was fired once she reached the final three.

Samuel Boateng[edit]

Samuel Boateng, aged 27, is an area sales manager in London. He is also responsible for managing and generating new business for over 700 companies across the London area.

Despite top selling throughout the tasks, Boateng came under fire from Lord Sugar and his advisor, Claude Littner, for not listening to his teammates on two occasions.

During week 5 of the process, Boateng's team won the task he project managed. In Week 7 when Boateng's team lost the boat show task, he was brought back to the boardroom along with Alana Spencer and Dillon St. Paul. Boateng was subsequently fired from the process that week.

Jessica Cunningham[edit]

Jessica Cunningham, aged 29, is an online fashion entrepreneur from Derbyshire. She is also the mother of three young children. Aside from owning her own online fashion company, she is the operations director for a public relations/marketing agency. Her motto to live by is "there's no competition if you're already winning." Cunningham became infamous on the show for her bombastic personality and hyperactive presence. She likened herself to a female Jim Carrey and was fully aware that her excessive energy would be problematic. Her past work as a stripper became highly publicized in the media, along with the criminal past of her children's father, Alistair Eccles. It was also rumoured that she was romantically involved with a fellow candidate, Courtney Wood, during her time in the process.

Cunningham started off poorly in the beginning, with her erratic selling in the first task earning some ire in the boardroom by Lord Sugar. Her failed side-deal was also condemned in the boardroom review, but she dodged elimination after project Michelle Niziol did not bring her back for the final boardroom. In the next task, Cunningham became project manager due to her background in fashion, but poorly led her team and created a confusing advertisement campaign, which resulted in their loss. While she was given credit for giving a good presentation in the task, Cunningham still earned considerable criticism for her losing her composure and being unable to control her emotions. Nevertheless, Lord Sugar gave Cunningham another chance, and she remained in the process throughout all ten tasks. She was fired in the interviews stage after it was revealed that her business proposal was based on a model of a previous company that not only failed but sustained a massive loss as well.

Natalie Hughes[edit]

Natalie Hughes, aged 30, is the owner of a hair and beauty salon in Glasgow. She runs two beauty and clothing businesses, and she prides herself on having "the hustler's ambition." She received some media attention when it was revealed she was charged with drug dealing offenses, despite pleading not guilty to the high court. This was later compounded by revelations that Hughes' brother was caught selling pirated goods from his market stall.

Hughes was sharply criticised in the first task for selling a vase for just £15, after it was revealed that the item was valued at £300. She was promptly fired the following week for making no significant or positive contributions on either task, along with a poor defence of herself in the boardroom. When she appeared on You're Fired, she revealed she had never even seen the programme before and merely defended herself because she was too proud to quit the process.

Rebecca Jeffery[edit]

Rebecca Jeffery, aged 31, is the owner of a design and marketing agency in Hale. She has a son, Ollie, and also serves as the account manager and creative director for her business. Jeffery prided herself on her "infectious" enthusiasm and believed being nice wins in business. Unfortunately, she remained on the Nebula team during her time on the show and lost six tasks in a row, tying with Frances Bishop and Elle Stevenson (from Series 11) for the record of most consecutive losses.

She was brought back to the boardroom twice for underwhelming performances but was spared both times when the losing project manager was fired instead. In the sixth task, Jeffrey did not step up to be project manager (despite promising to do so the previous week), and did not ensure that her delegated items were at the supermarket she phoned. This, along with the fact she hadn't won a single task, ultimately served as grounds for her elimination.

Jeffrey received a considerable amount of attention for her taxi interview, where she claimed that she was fired for not being "enough of a twat."

Sofiane Khelfa[edit]

Sofiane Khelfa, aged 32, is a sales executive in technology who lives in Essex. Khelfa came to the UK in 2003 from Algeria, with only £180. He now works for a high-end retail store and negotiates with high-profile clients in his field of tech sales. Khelfa describes himself as ambitious and courageous candidate who "never gives up."

Khelfa first gained positive recognition in the first task for flogging an item valued at £7 for £175. However, he slowly began to earn disapproval from Lord Sugar, the advisors, and his fellow candidates for being stubborn and not listening to instructions. In Week 3, he aggravated a potential client by trying to upsell his team's product, even when they repeatedly told him they couldn't go any higher than £300. While he was a successful project manager in the following task, his disregard for authority and "lone wolf" style of working slowly hurt him throughout the process. This ultimately became his undoing in Week 9 when he was fired.[1]

Aleksandra King[edit]

Aleksandra King, aged 38, is the owner of a business consultancy. She describes herself as altruistic, extremely confident, and believes she has a gift for spotting a good business opportunity. Fluent in seven languages, King also compared herself to the Tasmianian devil cartoon, claiming she will torpedo her way to the win.

In the third week, she was criticized by Mukai Noiri and Paul Sullivan for her trades in the confectionery task, but she later exposed them in the boardroom for ganging up on her in an attempt from both men to cover up their mistakes. In the following task, she shocked her entire team by announcing she wanted to leave the process, after finding the experience too overwhelming. After her exit, she explained that the limited communication with her family and realizing that her partnership with Lord Sugar would not be a good match were the ultimate reasons she left the process.[2]

Grainne McCoy[edit]

Grainne McCoy, aged 31, is the owner of a make-up studio in Northern Ireland. She lives in Newry with her son (whom she had at 16) and works throughout the UK and Ireland doing make-up for film projects and fashion shows. She says her hunger and passion pushes her to succeed, and she puts maximum effort into everything she does, with her son being her primary inspiration.

Despite suffering two losses as project manager, McCoy was widely known as a contender throughout the process, delivering solid performances in several tasks and was considered a very hard worker. She made it to the interviews stage, but was the first to be fired out of the five finalists for having an over-ambitious business plan.

Karthik Nagesan[edit]

Karthik Nagesan, aged 33, is an owner of an IT consultancy from Northamptonshire. He describes himself as "the next billion dollar unicorn" and says his friends would describe him as a born leader who takes charge and blazes a trail. Similarly to Jessica Cunningham from this series and Melissa Cohen from Series 6, Nagesan also developed some infamy due to his over-the-top personality, along with his monobrow and some quirky metaphorical sayings. Despite his off-beat presence, he became a favorite to win on Digital Spy and Radio Times.[3][4]

Nagesan was brought back to the boardroom twice for his belligerent behavior and aggressive approach, with Lord Sugar himself acknowledging that he was "a loose cannon." In Week 7, Nagesan was appointed project manager, but led his team to one of the biggest defeats in the show's history, with Lord Sugar repeatedly referring to the loss as "diabolical." After giving too many unsatisfactory answers, Lord Sugar promptly fired him before the final review was even made, making it the fifth time (after Jenny Celerier in Series 4, Robert Goodwin and Lindsay Booth in Series 10 and Elle Stevenson in Series 11) that a candidate was fired before a final boardroom session, and the second time (after Stevenson) that a losing project manager was fired before the final boardroom.

Radio Times reported they were "in mourning" after his firing.[5]

Michelle Niziol[edit]

Michelle Niziol, aged 35, is the owner of a property consultancy from Oxfordshire. Married with a son, she is also the founder of three companies that deal in mortgages, property, and lettings. A self-professed workaholic, Niziol describes herself as relentless and has no fear of anyone else.

Niziol was elected project manager for the first task, but preceded to have a poor showing of leadership, and the lack of communication and pricing strategy led to her becoming the first fired candidate of the series.

Oliver Nohl-Oser[edit]

Oliver Nohl-Oser, aged 33, is the owner of a food distribution business from Wiltshire. Born in Milburn in Penrith, Oliver is the founder of a sausage manufacturer that supplies in supermarkets in both the UK and internationally. He also believes his greatest business skills lie in his marketing ability and his powers of persuasion.

Throughout his time in the process, Nohl-Oser was repeatedly criticized for lacking presence and for making minimal contributions. He was elected project manager by Lord Sugar in the confectionery task, due to his background in food production. Despite his expertise, Nohl-Oser severely struggled in transitioning from making sausages to making sweets, and was fired for failing on a task related to his industry.

Mukai Noiri[edit]

Mukai Noiri, aged 36, is a digital marketing manager in fashion, living in London. Originally from Japan, Noiri moved to the United Kingdom in 2011 following the Fukushima disaster. He has also lived in Egypt and India. Noiri gave up his position as a senior communications manager to focus on his business proposal, and believes his charm is one of his strongest qualities.

Noiri's track record in the tasks was consistently poor, starting with underwhelming sales in the first task. He was elected project manager because of his fashion expertise, but preceded to create a shoddy advertising campaign, which was followed up with awful leadership. While his team lost the task for these glaring errors, he was put through to the next round. In the third task, he changed his team's deal with a wine company and lost money in the process. Once again, he was given another chance. Noiri was ultimately fired for selling poorly in the fourth task, which marked his third consecutive appearance in the boardroom.[6]

It was revealed that Noiri had moved back to Japan once the show started airing. While he made a special pre-taped video appearance, his firing verdict never took place on You're Fired.[7]

JD O'Brien[edit]

JD O'Brien, aged 37, is the owner of a beachwear company from London. He was fired in Week 5 for a consistent lack of contribution in the tasks most notably Weeks 1 and 4, his hands-off leadership and because Lord Sugar felt he was too nice. JD was the only candidate that finalist Grainne McCoy never worked with during the series.

Alana Spencer[edit]

Alana Spencer, born 11 February 1992, is a cake company owner from Ceredigion in Wales. During her time on the show, Alana struggled during most of the process and was brought back into the boardroom on numerous occasions. During her time on the show, Alana became known as an underdog as she was often ignored by other candidates and in Week 5, fellow candidate Karthik Nagesan said he could not even remember her name.

She was the winner of Series 12 after her very well-received presentation, her improvement throughout the process, and for the high profit margins and heartfelt nature of her brand. Alana's victory also made her the first Welsh winner of The Apprentice.[8]

In 2017, Spencer's company had to recall almost its entire range because of health risks. Food Standards Agency investigators said Ridiculously Rich by Alana inaccurately labelled its products. Some allergens were not listed and others were "not correctly declared", the agency said.[9]

Dillon St. Paul[edit]

Dillon St. Paul, aged 37, is an art director at a fashion magazine. On the show, he claimed "I'm the business equivalent of a diamond. I can sparkle and light up a room, but if you're not careful I could cut you." During his time on the show, he was known as being a highly creative person which ultimately proved a hindrance in Week 2 as his poor time management meant that his sub team had no time to make an interactive billboard.

He was fired with regret in Week 9 for creating a poor video game in the task despite his design expertise, failing to demonstrate any skills other than creativity, and for having an unsuitable personality for Lord Sugar's next business partner.

Paul Sullivan[edit]

Paul Sullivan, aged 38, is the owner of a marketing agency in Chigwell. His company specializes in finance, technology, construction, and property. He compares himself to Lord Sugar, given that Sullivan's first job was running an electronics market stall. A self-proclaimed charmer, Sullivan thinks his consistency and sincerity will get him ahead of the competition.

While he was the winning project manager for the first task, this was followed by a five-week losing streak. When he took the project manager role again in Week 8, he lost and was fired for being responsible for several of the team's mistakes and for losing his cool with fellow candidate Jessica Cunningham as well as other candidates.

Trishna Thakrar[edit]

Trishna "Trish" Thakrar, aged 28, is a recruitment agent from London. She was fired on week 10 after the gin making task after she suggested adding colour to the gin, undermining the project manager's leadership and attempting to blame her for the communication error, refusing to take responsibility for her mistakes, and for her gratuitously negative attitude throughout the task.

Courtney Wood[edit]

Courtney Wood, aged 29, is the owner of a novelty gifts company. When he was asked how he would describe himself in a sentence, Courtney replied in his audition "How would I describe myself in a sentence? I'll give you one word: Awesome." and his words were ultimately proven right on the show: During his time on the show, Courtney had the most successful track record of any of the candidates, with 8 wins (excluding Week 2) and was never brought back into the boardroom. Following the dismissals of Dillon St. Paul and Sofiane Khelfa in Week 9, he was the last remaining man in the competition hinting there could have been an all female final five.[10][11]

After winning the interview stage in Week 11, he went on to face Alana Spencer in the final. Wood was the runner-up of Series 12 and was one of three male runners-up that the Apprentice has had alongside Chris Bates of Series 6 and Tom Gearing of Series 8.[12]


  1. "The Apprentice 2016, episode 9, talking points: the double firing was unfair, plus Karren Brady steals Lord Sugar's limelight yet again". Telegraph. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  2. "Aleksandra King reveals the real reasons why she walked off The Apprentice". Daily Telegraph. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  3. "The Apprentice 2016: Um, we think we might actually want Karthik Nagesan to win now". Digital Spy. 27 October 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  4. "Another week of The Apprentice, another outpouring of love for Karthik". Radio Times. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  5. "The Apprentice viewers are in mourning after Lord Sugar fires Karthik". Radio Times. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  6. "The Apprentice loses two candidates as Mukai Noiri is fired after Aleksandra King quits". Daily Mirror. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  7. "The Apprentice: Fired candidate doesn't even bother to turn up to You're Firedwork=Digital Spy". Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  8. "Alana Spencer becomes first Welsh winner of The Apprentice". Daily Mail. 18 December 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  12. "The Apprentice 2016: Alana Spencer triumphs in the strongest final in years - review". Telegraph. 18 December 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.

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