WITH Vana Koutsomitis and Joseph Valente set to battle it out to win the final of The Apprentice and Lord Sugar’s £250,000, Quays News report Ben Senior spoke to last year’s winner Mark Wright.

After 12 weeks of selling fish, flaunting hamster t-shirts and planning children’s parties the 11th series of The Apprentice is coming to an end. Two candidates remain and it’s a fight to mend broken hearts or broken boilers with Vana and Joseph’s business plans under the spotlight.

Cosmopolitan businesswoman Vana has previously studied in Spain, France and China but is looking to win Lord Sugar over with her ‘PlayDate’ application allowing users to play online games whilst building romantic connections.

Self-confessed ladies-man and young entrepreneur Joseph is looking to build on his existing plumbing business in a bid to win the £250,000.

However, last year’s winner of The Apprentice, Wright believes ‘it’s a non-contest.’

The Australian born businessman said: “I think Joseph will win it hands down. £250,000 in the app world, especially in the dating game won’t scratch the surface unfortunately, so Vana would have to look at starting extremely small on that. Whereas Joseph has run a very successful plumbing business in the past, so he could scale it with little to no investment very quickly.

“If I was in Lord Sugar’s shoes, I’d go with Joseph but you never know. He does what he wants and he likes a challenge, so I’ll be watching on with as much intrigue as anyone.”

After winning last year’s series, Wright is now in charge of his own company ‘Climb Online’, an online advertising business that helps companies enhance their presence across the internet.

LISTEN: How Mark ended up on The Apprentice

Wright, who left his homeland Australia backpacking, found his way on to The Apprentice and immediately started to make an impression within the world of business. However it’s been in the last twelve months that his life has really taken off.

He said: “My life’s completely changed in every way. It was quite an overwhelming moment really; it didn’t sink in until a few weeks after. I remember sitting on the You’re Hired show after winning it and I didn’t really know what was happening.”

The £250,000 investment and Lord Sugar’s guidance was then rewarded to Mark and his business Climb Online. Within a year Wright says his company have had a turnover of ‘£1.5 billion’ and have already ‘secured a partnership’ with search engine giant, Google.

Confidence is something that the former winner oozes and his self-belief was key to winning the show.

He said: “It sounds really arrogant but I always said to my friends and family that if I got through the first week then I’d win the whole thing. I think the first week is the hardest week because there are so many unknowns; Lord Sugar doesn’t really know you and anything could go right or wrong. But I think once you get through that then it’s anyone’s game and I was really confident I’d win.”

However despite Mark’s seemingly successful foray in the world of business, he is keen to point out that he’s only at the beginning of his journey.

He said: “We’re about 20 per cent of the way there. Success for me will come when my company has multiple offices in multiple countries and is stable. Winning The Apprentice has allowed my company to grow so quickly but a good company is not one that makes money in its first year, it’s one that makes money over a number of years. That’s my goal.”

After winning the show last year, Mark has been able to look at the latest series in a different light.

“I watch it all now and I kind of know too much,” he said.

“When you’ve been part of the production, you pick things up that you wouldn’t particularly notice as a punter watching. I think some of the candidates have been absolutely fantastic.

“You’ve had your normal serving of idiotic types in there which you always need to make it fun for the tele but then I think Joseph and Vana are very, very worthy finalists.

“It’ll come down to how they present but also what Lord Sugar is in the mood for taking on next. He’s just done an online business with me so maybe he’s going to go back to a bricks and mortar style of company.”

After 12 long weeks, Lord Sugar’s latest search for his new business partner is almost over.

The Apprentice 2015 final airs tonight (December 20) on BBC One from 21:00 GMT.

By: Ben Senior

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