Apprentice winner reveals why candidates aren't always the finest business brains

Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin, winner of The Apprentice in 2012, has been inspired by his experiences on the show to hire his own apprentices. They bear no resemblance, however, to the more colourful characters from the hit TV Show.

He told AOL Money: "People say, 'I've seen the candidates for this year and they don't look like the best in class', and I say there are two reasons for that. The first is that this is entertainment, and there have to be candidates in the process who make entertaining TV. The second is that the series is called 'The Apprentice', it's not called 'The Best Business Person in the Country'. You need to look on it as a 12-week apprenticeship. The idea is to find someone who comes through the process best: who successfully learns from the experience and shows they have the ability to develop."

He adds that his own 12 weeks on the programme were a vital learning experience. He admits he wasn't a fully rounded entrepreneur when he went into the process, but he learned an enormous amount. He says: "I went in bullish and a bit arrogant." He's not kidding. His early claim that: "I'm like a shark, right at the top of the food chain. I take what I want, when I want. I truly am the reflection of perfection," has gone down in Apprentice history.

However, he told AOL: "The programme made sure I was quickly taken out of my comfort zone and challenged, which brought me down to earth (something that needed to be done). I learned a great deal - including patience. The challenges are not things I ever expect to do again, but I learned how to be humble, to be open to ideas, to apply them, and to show I was learning."

His own apprentice

Martin took the title in 2012, winning a £250,000 investment in his start-up recruitment business, Hyper Recruitment Solutions, run in partnership with Lord Sugar. He now employs 25 people in the specialist recruitment of scientists, and has taken the decision to employ two apprentices.

These are apprentices of an entirely different nature. The selection process doesn't involve any high drama. Instead, a local college filters the applications, and only puts forward the final few candidates. Martin interviewed them, but rather than the intimidating interviews of The Apprentice, exposing lies and demanding difficult answers, he wants to get to know the candidates. He says: "I look for attitude. I can teach people the skills they need for this business, but I can't teach them the will to do it, so I look for people with the right approach."

His first apprentice is near the end of the first year, working towards NVQ Level 2, the equivalent of a GCSE, the second is a newer recruit. If the first year is successful, the apprentices can work towards NVQ Level 3, the equivalent of an A-Level. Once qualified, they will have the opportunity to work as a full time consultant in the business.

Martin was keen to employ apprentices for a number of reasons. He wanted to ensure there was the structure within the business to enable career progression, and he saw the opportunity to shape the careers of valuable and loyal employees.

He was also concerned that by employing graduates he was missing out on good candidates. He explains: "I was able to work and support myself through university, but it costs five times as much nowadays, so I wouldn't have been able to afford it. I didn't want to miss out on people like me."

In order to make the process work, however, the whole business had to buy into the idea of having apprentices. The recruits have an apprenticeships mentor, a former teacher who works within the business. Part of the development of existing consultants is also to provide coaching. He says: "It's not cheap labour, because there is the burden of the work it takes to get them up to speed. We're in it for the long-term. If we get it right, then one day these apprentices will go on to coach new apprentices."

That's something we may not be able to say for some of the more entertaining characters of The Apprentice TV show. Given their pick of workplace mentors, for example, there probably aren't many people who would opt for the likes of Katie Hopkins.


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The 10 richest reality stars
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The 10 richest reality stars

Klass is worth £11 million. She was an early winner in the pop competition phenomenon. The classical musician took part in Popstars in 2001, where she took the title as a member of Hear’Say. The win brought her £1 million immediately, but the band only lasted two years. She was snapped up after the band split, but had limited success as a solo pop artist.


Her second big break, however, came when she appeared in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2006 and took an array of small bikinis with her. She subsequently balanced modelling with a return to classical music. And since then had delved into an incredible array of enterprises, ranging from designing a range of baby clothes for Mothercare to presenting Loose Women and hosting a show on Classic FM.

Lewis is worth £13 million. She became the third winner of the X-Factor in 2006, and is currently the second richest act to emerge from the show. She has now produced four studio albums, and sold 20 million copies. Some of her money-making potential may lie in the fact that she was mentored for seven years by Simon Cowell.


She hasn’t made a vast amount of money in projects beyond her music, although she has a line of accessories, a very successful perfume, and is a face of The Body Shop. She also made her film debut this year in Walking on Sunshine.

The band is worth £14 Million (each). It’s no surprise to see this global phenomenon on the list, and it’s worth remembering that one of the reasons they are not higher up it is that they only shot to fame on X Factor in 2010. The boys famously auditioned as solo acts, but made the cut after being brought together by Simon Cowell as a supergroup.


Their money-making comes partly through the music, including selling 45 million records, £270 million of tour ticket sales, and a box office smash hit movie. They have also taken merchandise to the next level. Their range includes bedding, lipstick, perfume, hats, bags, dresses, jewellery, shoes, a onesie, glasses, dolls, shot glasses, nail varnish, cushions, headphones and mobile phone covers - and every item is an enormous hit because they have generated one of the most loyal fan bases in pop’s living memory.

Hudson is worth £15 million, This is an amazing result for someone who came seventh on a reality show talent competition. However, Hudson raised her profile enough to catch the eye of the moguls casting the hit movie Dreamgirls - earning herself an Oscar for Best Supporting Acress - and kickstarting a lucrative film career.

She has since released three albums, and landed a WeightWatchers job, all of which have helped add to the coffers and bring her into seventh place.

The first ever winner of American Idol in 2002 is worth £16 million. She has now released six best-selling albums and completed three world tours. The majority of her wealth is said to come from record sales - of which she has sold 20 million. She’s expecting to release another album at the beginning of next year, so she’s unlikely to run short of cash any time soon.

The artist now known as Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is worth £16 million. She was part of the reality girl group Girls Aloud, which won ITV’s Pop Stars: The Rivals in 2002. Within the group she amassed £6 million after selling four million albums over seven years, but the rest of her fortune has been built up through an array of projects since.

Her solo career has included three hit albums, modelling contacts with the likes of L’Oreal and Coca-Cola Zero, judging on The X Factor (and a very brief stint on the US version of the show), and a signature perfume. She is said to have so much faith in the strength of her recent marriage that she refused to sign a pre-nuptial agreement to protect her cash

Boyle is worth £22 million, and is perhaps the ultimate reality TV success story. From the moment the 53-year-old blew the audience away during her Britain’s Got Talent audition in 2009, her unique talents were set to transform her life. In the end she only came second on the show, but was snapped up by Simon Cowell’s record label and was immediately put to work.

Despite having relatively fragile health - which has meant a less full-on promotional whirl than the One Direction boys, she has released four albums, and sold more than 19 million copies. She has also embarked on a tour, and has performed at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games and for Pope Benedict XVI. It is no surprise that her story was turned into a musical, and the rights bought to turn it into a film.

Roots (whose real name is actually Keith Valentine Graham Bilal Musa) is worth £30 million. He took his jerk sauce to a trade show in 2006, where he was spotted by a BBC producer who suggested he appeared on Dragon’s Den.

In 2007 he blew the dragons away (despite getting his maths very wrong when calculating how much sauce was on order), and won over Peter Jones and Richard Fairleigh. Now it’s not just his jerk sauce that is stocked in supermarkets - but a vast range of pizzas, sauces, ready meals and even cakes. He has also produced best-selling cook books and a BBC series, and tours the speaking circuit.

Hilton is worth £36 million, and is the first on this list to be famous for nothing in particular - generally known as being a Hilton hotels heir and a socialite. However, since she appeared on her own reality TV show, The Simple Life, with Nicole Ritchie, she has made a fortune through a huge number of ventures. Reality TV has been good to her, with her BFF reality show franchise and The World According to Paris. Telling her story has also made her rich - with two autobiographies and a documentary on the subject. She has appeared in several films and TV dramas, and released an album.


However, she has also shown an incredible ability to sell products. She has her own fashion lines - including one for dogs, more than ten fragrances, jewellery designs, hair extensions, shampoos, hair vitamins, shoes, an app, sunglasses, and a chain of accessory shops.

The top position on the list goes to Kardashian West, who is worth £39 million. She’s another ‘socialite’ who came to the attention of TV producers in 2007 through a leaked sex tape. This lead to Keeping Up With The Kardashians - which has since spawned nine series and four spin offs. This only explains a fraction of her wealth, however, because Kim Kardashian’s ability to cash in on fame is unprecedented.

Her enormous number of endorsements include perfume, trainers, diet products, nail polish, jewellery, watches, a cupcake mix, lollipops, Carls Jr fast food, a gaming app, candles, laser hair-removal, fake tan, lipgloss, and swimwear. The family owns a chain of boutiques, and a clothing line called the Kardashian Kollection. Even her wedding in 2011 was said to have made her £6 million.

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