Lee McQueen - you're hired!
After 12 demanding weeks battling it out on BBC One against 15 of Britain's brightest and best business hopefuls, 30-year-old recruitment sales manager Lee McQueen has become Sir Alan Sugar's newest Apprentice.
Lee's prize is a £100,000-a-year job with a man worth over £800m and who has more than 40 years of business experience under his belt.
Lee follows in the footsteps of previous winners Tim Campbell, Michelle Dewberry and Simon Ambrose (who has announced he is to sign on for another year working for the self-made multi-millionaire boss of Amstrad).
In the final episode, screened last night on BBC One, over 10 million viewers saw Lee paired with senior retail buyer Claire Young as they battled it out against global pricing leader Helene Speight and regional sales manager Alex Wotherspoon, in their final task.
Lee and Claire beat off stiff competition from Helene and Alex, by jointly managing a team of ex-candidates in the toughest task to date: designing and presenting a new men's fragrance to the market.
Although the team faced tricky questions from the floor on their fragrance, they won over a room full of industry experts and Sir Alan during their presentation.
Sir Alan later complimented Lee with his vast improvement on his presenting skills – in a previous task he had stumbled and spluttered his way through the presentation.
Meanwhile, Helene and Alex failed to work together and their team was not impressed with the lack of flair during their presentation.
Sir Alan criticised them in the boardroom for not forecasting the costs of their bottle to produce, and going above the margins set.
After a nail-biting boardroom, Sir Alan fired Alex and Helene, and kept Claire and Lee on the edge of their seats while he deliberated over who should become his next Apprentice.
Just before Sir Alan announced who he had chosen, Lee told him he wanted it "more than any other person in this competition" and that he had "consistently delivered throughout this intense process".
Although Sir Alan admitted that Claire had "some great attributes", he told Lee: "You're very convincing. You are very, very convincing. I've concluded. Lee, You're Hired!"
After the final show, Lee said: "I can't believe I'm Sir Alan's Apprentice, it's been a unbelievable experience. To set yourself a goal and succeed through such pressurised circumstances and formidable competition makes this a fantastic achievement, and I'm really proud of myself."
Sir Alan said: "I saw the way that he was focused... and passionate when things were going wrong... he delivered every time I asked him to. It's all a case of delivering and he delivered."
He commented on Claire too, saying: "She learnt a lot about herself... I'm not worried about her moving on in life... she's always got my help if she needs it."
Lee will be taking up his new post on 1 July 2008, and will be working for Amshold, the holding company of Sir Alan.
Lee will be tasked with the formation of a new venture within the Amshold group, and will work for Sir Alan and Simon Sugar, former Commercial Director of Amstrad.
Lee's job will involve the development and sale of digital display advertising screens and other associated items.
The series finale is the conclusion of the fourth hugely successful series of the multi-award-wining show, which has attracted up to eight million viewers to its Wednesday night slot on BBC One.
The show had more than 20,000 applicants this year, who were whittled down to the final 16 to face the biggest challenge of their lives, a 12-week job interview with the self-confessed "most belligerent person you'll ever come across" – Amstrad boss and multi-millionaire Sir Alan Sugar.
The 16 wannabe tycoons all pushed themselves to the limit over a series of tasks designed to put their skills to the test in a business boot camp from hell, including selling fish, creating a new brand of tissues, hiring out supercars, haggling in Marrakech and designing new flavours of ice cream.
Highlights include Michael's "good Jewish boy" admission, Lucinda and Jenny's infamous argument, Claire's dressing down and Lee's now infamous "that's what I'm talking about" catchphrase.
The Apprentice is a talkbackTHAMES production for BBC One. Executive Producer is Michele Kurland and Series Editor is Kelly Webb-Lamb.
Notes to Editors
- Age: 30
- Career: recruitment sales manager
- Qualifications: 8 GCSEs, B-Tec Diploma in IT
- Lives: Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire
- Son of a milkman and brought up in Perivale, Middlesex, Lee realised at an early age the importance of working hard and getting your foot on the property ladder.
- Lee bought his first house aged 18, and then went on to buy one for his mother in return for all the support she has given him.
- Lee describes himself as a cat, sometimes purring with affection and other times just biting. He has over eight years experience in the recruitment industry gained predominately in IT.
- To cheer up his colleagues he likes to do a "reverse pterodactyl" which involves him standing on a chair and screeching.
- He applied to the show because he believes Sir Alan to be "a true entrepreneur" and thinks he can learn to be a fantastic businessman working for him.
He says: "There is no airy-fairy stuff with me; I tell it how I see it."