Watch Sir Alan Sugar announces his decision
Recruitment sales manager Lee McQueen has become Sir Alan Sugar’s fourth Apprentice – despite having been caught lying on his CV earlier in the series.
McQueen, from Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, said he had to take “a deep breath” when the tycoon told him “you’re hired” in the hit BBC show.
The 30-year-old beat three other hopefuls to land a £100,000 job alongside Sir Alan.
He said he would buy his girlfriend new shoes with his first pay cheque.
“I’m also trying to negotiate with Alan to see if I can have a holiday in South Africa,” he added.
As well as planning to lease a new Porsche, he also said he wanted to help his mother get central heating in her flat.
The series pitches aspiring entrepreneurs to prove themselves in the world of business in the hope of winning a contract to work alongside Sir Alan, who made his fortune after founding technology firm Amstrad.
McQueen was pitched against fellow hopefuls Alex Wotherspoon, Claire Young and Helene Speight in a task to create a men’s fragrance.
But Wotherspoon and Speight’s efforts were not good enough for Sir Alan, who called McQueen and Young – a retail buyer nicknamed The Rottweiler – back for one final showdown.
Sir Alan told the pair: “Claire, you have some great attributes and Lee, you’re very convincing. You are very, very, very convincing. I’ve concluded… Lee, you’re hired.”
“When I heard those words ‘you’re hired’ it took a couple of seconds to sink in,” McQueen said.
“What swung it for me was when I rolled off my record to Sir Alan. I’ve been a project manager three times, won three times and never been in the boardroom.
“Claire doesn’t need anyone to feel sorry for her but I am gutted for her. I believed at some point that Sir Alan would choose her. She probably went through the biggest journey.”
He added: “I’m a big softie and when we learnt we were the final two it was very emotional.”
McQueen – who earned £78,000 last year – has been asked by Sir Alan to launch a digital advertising product which will come under one of the tycoon’s “portfolio of companies”.
He said he was “very ashamed” to have been caught lying on his CV in an episode when he was also hauled over the coals for his poor spelling.
“It lost me some of my integrity,” he said.
“I got a good grilling and I deserved it, and I learned from my mistake. It won’t happen again.”
Profiles: Apprentice finalists
Job: Regional sales manager
Form: 5 wins, 5 losses
Alex was project manager of Team Renaissance in the first week and narrowly avoided being fired for his handling of the fish task. His second stint as project manager was more successful, his team recording a convincing win in the advertising challenge.
His best performance came in the car rental task when he made the lion’s share of his team’s winning total. But his reticent style has drawn criticism from Sir Alan’s aide Margaret Mountford, who said he “backed so far off” in Week Four “he was practically out of the door”.
Alex began his working life as a landscape gardener before going to Texas to work as a loan officer. He has consistently attributed his lack of experience to his relatively young age.
Job: Senior retail buyer
Form: 3 wins, 7 losses
Claire has been project manager twice, winning on both occasions. But she has also been brought back into the boardroom five times, more than any other finalist.
Initially her abrasive style and talkativeness provoked Sir Alan’s ire, though he has since been impressed by her apparent willingness to take his criticisms onboard. Though her team lost the advertising task, she received praise from Nick Hewer for her presentation skills.
Convent educated, single girl Claire spent a year at medical school before taking a degree in Equine Science. She also spent three seasons as a Club 18-30 holiday rep in Magaluf on the Spanish island of Majorca.
Job: Global pricing leader
Form: 5 wins, 5 losses
Helene, the oldest of the remaining candidates, has been project manager twice. Her team won the photography task under her leadership but lost the wedding challenge.
A “ballsy Northerner” who has worked for General Electric since 2000, Helene has succeeded in a very masculine environment. Over the course of the series she has revealed details about her difficult childhood.
This has cut little ice with Sir Alan, though, who has expressed concerns whether her corporate background make her suitable for a role in his organisation. She came close to being fired in Week 10 when he likened her posture to that of the Mona Lisa.
From: Princes Risborough
Job: Recruitment sales manager
Form: 7 wins, 3 losses
Lee has been project manager twice, winning on both occasions. Unlike the other candidates, he has never been among the final three brought back into the boardroom.
That did not stop him getting a rough ride in the interview episode, when he was hauled over the coals for his poor spelling and for lying on his CV.
Lee grew up in Middlesex but now lives in Buckinghamshire. He works as a Sales Manager for the Capita group and loves football and rugby.
He is best known for his oft-repeated catchphrase “That’s what I’m talking about!” and his exuberant impression of a “reverse pterodactyl”.