Alan Sugar hires The Apprentice winner after all-female final

Lord Alan Sugar has hired boxing gym owner Marnie Swindells as his latest business partner following an all-female finale of The Apprentice.

Swindells, a 28-year-old court advocate and gold medal-winning boxer from London, went head-to-head with fellow finalist Rochelle Anthony to secure Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment and form a business partnership with the business mogul.

After learning of her win, Swindells, who owns community-focused boxing gym BRONX, said: “What an incredible opportunity and moment for a girl like me to get to a place like this and have become Lord Sugar’s business partner.

The Apprentice
Marnie Swindells and Rochelle Anthony battled it out in the final of The Apprentice (Ian West/PA)

“It feels strange to even say that, but I’m not going to stop saying it because I am so happy.”

The final of the 17th series of the BBC reality show saw Swindells and 35-year-old Bedfordshire salon owner Anthony take on the most important business pitch of their careers so far and attempt to convince Lord Sugar and industry experts that they were worth the investment.

The two finalists were also supported by a number of candidates who had been fired earlier in the series who returned to help them bring their business plans to life.

During the final boardroom, Lord Sugar’s aides, Baroness Karren Brady and Tim Campbell, shared their thoughts on the two finalists.

Of Swindells, Baroness Brady said: “Marnie, she has never run a business before, and she’s chosen a business that’s very competitive – can she stand out in this very competitive market?”

Campbell advocated for the boxing gym owner, adding: “That being said, for an ambassador for a boxing facility, there is no-one better I would think than Marnie and what she stands for.”

After the two finalists presented their final pitches to Lord Sugar, the business magnate came to his decision.

The Apprentice
Marnie Swindells was crowned the winner of The Apprentice series 17 (Ian West/PA)

He said: “Marnie, it is such a crowded and competitive market. I’m thinking, ‘Is this £250,000 down the drain?’

“Rochelle, what worries me about you is why would your second and third branch be popular and make me and you money?

“It’s a tough one, but Marnie, you’re asking me to invest in something which is completely alien to me to be honest and you’ve never run a business before.

“Rochelle, it’s opening the second one and it really is a difficult decision as to what industry I should be in.

“Two very excellent candidates. But I’ve always been known to be a gambler, I’ve always been known to try new horizons so I’m going to try a new horizon…

“Marnie, you are going to be my business partner.”

The series started with 18 hopeful candidates and a first task which saw them flown to Antigua and assigned with creating and selling excursions to tourists.

Over the course of 12 weeks the candidates were whittled down to the final two women – the second year in a row there has been an all-female final.

All episodes of The Apprentice series 17 are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.