Junior Apprentice 2010 starts tonight – BBC One

Multi-millionaire and self made businessman, Lord Sugar, left school at 16 with no money in his pocket and no qualifications. 40 years on and against the odds, he’s at the top of his game with a business empire worth millions. For decades a supporter of young people in business, Lord Sugar has decided to give ten of the UK’s most ambitious and driven teenagers the opportunity of a lifetime: competing for the title of the first ever Junior Apprentice.

From Wednesday 12th May, the 10 young candidates will face an education like no other as they embark on a series of tough tasks which will push their skills to the limit. The potential Junior Apprentices will face the same cut-throat competition as the adult series – it’s survival of the fittest and the tasks are just as challenging as ever.

From all corners of the country, each of the aspiring tycoons has been selected for their entrepreneurial flair and burning passion for business – Lord Sugar has spotted something in all of them, but only one can succeed in becoming the Junior Apprentice. Aged between 16 and 17 years old, they believe that they have the capability, determination and raw business talent to take on the challenge and be the one to win access to a fund worth £25,000. The fund will go towards kick-starting his or her business career, and will be tailored to their individual career prospects and development.

The tycoons of tomorrow – most of whom are still in education – include; a CEO of their own company, a sheep shearer, a market-stall holder, an A* student, Senior Prefect, a self-employed salesman who left school at 16, and an aspiring inventor. All of them think they have what it takes, but can they prove themselves when the pressure is on?

Lord Sugar will not accept any excuses – he started in business at the same age and expects his prospects to be able to do the same. With tasks including selling cheese, creating their own branded cupcakes for department store shoppers, and dealing in art, as well as travelling abroad to Holland for one of the most demanding foreign tasks to date, the candidates will quickly learn that Lord Sugar holds no punches when it comes to separating the wheat from the chaff, and only time will tell who has what it takes.

Failure is not an option and mistakes won’t be tolerated as Lord Sugar doesn’t waste any time in laying down the rules:

“What I’m looking for is that killer instinct, that spark of genius, that nose for doing a good deal. I have a passion for helping young people to succeed, because ultimately it’s up to your generation to rescue and revitalise the country.

This is a fantastic opportunity for one of you. I have set aside £25,000, now don’t think you’ll be getting your grubby hands on it if you win to buy yourself a second-hand Porsche, I’ll be making sure that the money is spent to enhance your future career or business start-up.

I suppose you can look at me like the Head Teacher that you love to hate. I’ll be firm but fair and if you’re not up to scratch, you’ll be fired.”

Aided once again by no-nonsense adviser Nick Hewer, Lord Sugar will also be joined by top businesswoman and Vice Chairman of West Ham, Karren Brady. Karren knows first-hand the scrutiny the candidates will be under having taken part – and subsequently won – Comic Relief Does The Apprentice in 2007. Both Nick and Karren will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings and helping Lord Sugar to find Britain’s brightest young entrepreneur.

The candidates will live in a luxurious Georgian townhouse in Islington, London, for the duration of the show. For some, it’s their first time away from home, but for all it’s the chance to experience what life could be like as a high flyer. When the winner is crowned they will be given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be mentored by Britain’s most famous boss.

Over 28,000 applied, but only 10 made the cut. Lord Sugar’s search for his first Junior Apprentice is about to begin…

Lisa McGarry

Lisa has been watching reality TV for too long now. She won't do any housework unless 'Big Brother' announces it over the tannoy and everything she does has to be put to a public vote!