What business sectors has Alan Sugar entered with Apprentice winners?

Lord Sugar appears to have a sweet tooth when it comes to business investments on the show - but cosmetics also catch his eye.

Lord Alan Sugar on The Apprentice (Photo: BBC)
Lord Sugar appears to have a sweet tooth when it comes to business investments. (BBC)

The Apprentice 2024 has just seen Rachel Woolford crowned the winner and Lord Sugar will invest £250,000 in her chain of boutique fitness studios.

Woolford's victory with her business North Studios comes just one year after Marnie Swindells won the show with her chain of boxing gyms. It seems Lord Sugar is becoming a bit of a fitness fanatic. But that has not always been the case. In the past 12 years he has proven to have a sweet tooth - with sugary food businesses being his most popular investment over the last 12 series.

Since 2011 The Apprentice candidates have competed for an investment from Lord Sugar in their own business proposal, instead of the previous job that was offered as a prize. And out of 14 investments he has made in Apprentice finalists four of those have been companies selling sweet treats. Out of the 14 businesses Lord Sugar has invested in, he is still working with five of them today.

He might be tempted by sweet treats - but Lord Sugar has since parted ways with all four of those businesses. Meanwhile, he still has shares in all the skincare companies he chose to win the show - and even one which belonged to an Apprentice runner-up. And Lord Sugar is still working with the very first Apprentice investment he made back in 2011.

Here are the types of business Lord Sugar has chosen to put his money into and how their working relationship is going.

Sweet treats

Lord Sugar chose Harpreet Kaur as his winner. (PA)
Lord Sugar chose Harpreet Kaur's dessert business as his winner in 2022. (Alamy)

Perhaps his name isn't Alan Sugar for nothing - the billionaire's favourite type of investment would seem to be of the sugary type. But he is no longer working with any of these companies today.

In 2022 Lord Sugar invested in Apprentice winner Harpreet Kaur's dessert cafe chain Oh So Yum! Kaur parted ways with him in November 2023, buying back Lord Sugar's shares.

In 2019 Carina Lepore won the series with her South London London bakery chain Dough Artisan Bakery, which was grown out of a family business. She also bought back Lord Sugar's shares in 2023.

Sarah Lynn competed in The Apprentice in 2017 - the only series where both finalists were crowned the winners. She was one of them with Sweets in the City, a mail-order business selling gift packages and party favours of traditional sweet shop confectionary. Lynn bought back her business in 2022. And Lord Sugar made Alana Spencer's cake business Ridiculously Rich the winner in 2016. Spencer bought back his shares in 2019, but Lord Sugar said he would follow the Welsh baker's progress "with much affection".

Beauty products

Tom Pellereau was Lord Sugar's winner of The Apprentice
Tom Pellereau was Lord Sugar's winner of The Apprentice with a skincare company. (Alamy)

Lord Sugar's very first investment in an Apprentice candidate in the seventh series of the show in 2011 was a skincare business pitched by winner Tom Pellereau. The inventor used the investment to launch beauty products company Stylideas which included the Tangle Teezer brush, the world's first curved nail file, and make-up sponge and brush cleaners. He and Lord Sugar are still in business to this day.

Dr Leah Totton raise eyebrows among some viewers of the show in 2013 when she won the show with her cosmetic clinic pitch offering Botox, fillers and other cosmetic enhancements. But Lord Sugar appears very happy with his investment in Dr. Leah Clinics and Skincare and they are still working together.

Susan Ma, did not win The Apprentice, getting fired in the final task, to invent a new fast food outlet, in 2011, when Pellereau won. But Lord Sugar's interest in skincare proved strong as he also invested in her Tropic Skincare company, before Ma bought him out in 2018.


Rachel Woolford wins Lord Sugar's The Apprentice 2024. (BBC)
Rachel Woolford won Lord Sugar's investment in her gym chain. (BBC)

Rachel Woolford had to work hard to persuade Lord Sugar to invest in her boutique fitness chain North Studios to become the winner of The Apprentice 2024 when he already had involvement in a gym business. Marnie Swindells won the show last year with her chain of gyms Bronx Boxing Club. It looks like Lord Sugar is taking more of an interest in fitness these days.


Lord Sugar congratulates Ricky Martin (left), the winner of the BBC television programme The Apprentice, in London.
Lord Sugar and Ricky Martin are still in business together. (Alamy)

Ricky Martin (no not that one) was winner of The Apprentice in 2012, securing Lord Sugar's investment in his recruitment company Hyper Recruitment Solutions, specialising in the science industry. Martin is one of the five Apprentice finalists still working with Lord Sugar.

James White also won investment for his recruitment company Right Time Recruitment as one of the double winners in 2017. Lord Sugar quit as director in 2020.


Lord Sugar went into business with clothing designer Sian Gabbidon in 2018
Lord Sugar went into business with clothing designer Sian Gabbidon in 2018. (alamy)

Sian Gabbidon persuaded Lord Sugar to put his money into her swimwear company in the 14th series of The Apprentice in 2018. But her clothing company SNME The Label sidestepped into loungewear during the COVID pandemic - proving a savvy business move. But Lord Sugar quit as director in 2022.


Joseph Valente won The Apprentice in 2015. (Alamy)
Joseph Valente was forced to sell his boiler installation business. (Alamy)

Joseph Valente won Lord Sugar's investment for his plumbing business Impra-Gas in 2015. But his boiler installation firm did not work out and he was forced to sell the company in 2017, with Lord Sugar also parting ways. But Valente has gone to set up successful company Trade Mastermind which supports and trains small businesses and tradespeople.

Digital Marketing

Mark Wright with Lord Alan Sugar after winning The Apprentice in 2014.
Mark Wright has reportedly sold his Apprentice winning business for £10 million. (Alamy)

Mark Wright (not that one either) won the show in 2014 when Lord Sugar invested in his SEO company Climb Online. In 2022 he sold the business for a reported £10 million.

Read more: The Apprentice

Watch: The Apprentice finalists receive their task from Lord Sugar