BBC The Apprentice 2024 winner issued stern six-word warning by Lord Sugar during hiring

Finalists Phil Turner and Rachel Woolford battled it out in The Apprentice final - but there could only be one winner
Finalists Phil Turner and Rachel Woolford battled it out in The Apprentice final - but there could only be one winner -Credit:2024 PA Media, All Rights Reserved

Lord Sugar has officially announced Rachel Woolford as winner of this year's series of The Apprentice, after an intense final. And within seconds of hiring her, the famous entrepreneur warned her: "Don't let me down, young lady." To which she replied: "I absolutely won't let you down Lord Sugar."

Over the past 12 weeks, 18 candidates from across the UK battled it out in a wide range of tasks designed to test their initiative, decision-making, team-working, marketing, management and business skills in a bid to be given the opportunity to be Lord Sugar's business partner and scoop a lucrative £250,000 investment.

In Thursday's final, previously fired candidates from earlier in the series were invited back to the programme to support Rachel from Leeds and fellow finalist Phil Turner from Bognor Regis as they prepared for their final presentations to industry experts and business gurus.

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Viewers found out more information about Phil's pie business and Rachel's fitness enterprise as the pair and their teams designed campaigns to launch their new businesses. Both worked hard to create strong brands for their businesses, with memorable names, eye-catching advertising and strong business plans.

Back in the boardroom after their presentations to the industry experts, Lord Sugar said: "This is a very tough decision, I've got to say, because I've got two very, very credible people in front of me. I've got Rachel, who claims she's making money and that she's going to make even more when she gets the second gym up and running - but gyms are kind of like, with all due respect, they're like two-a-penny. Specialist pies are not - and it's a market that I'm very interested in.

"But how can I be interested in it if there's no kind of light at the end of the tunnel? There's a loss-making business at the moment that you tell me is going to turn around be OK and that's my dilemma, you know?

"It's very, very hard for me. I'm having trouble here - but my gut feeling is telling me: Rachel you're going to my business partner."

An excited Rachel immediately thanked Lord Sugar, whilst Phil congratulated her. "Thankyou very much, Lord Sugar," she said. "Well done, Rach. Fully deserved, well done." said Phil.

Rachel discusses her business idea at the final presentations
Rachel's business idea was for a chain of social-based gyms with exercise classes and a culture of community and socialising -Credit:BBC/screengrab

Over on social media, viewers were divided by the result. One fan of Phil's business idea said: "What a terrible decision. B******" whilst another said: "Noooooo gutted for Phil. The Apprentice pie man lost it. Sad times."
A third said: "Not sure I agree with the final result tonight. I loved how organic and family-orientated Phil's business was... that's where my money would have gone."

But others disagreed. "Right choice," said one viewer. "Huge Congratulations to Rachel," added another. "A very worthy winner!"

Another questioned how Phil had even got to the final, commenting: "Inherited his family business and lost nine tasks in a row, he never deserved the final in the first place!"

"This was one of those seasons when Lord Sugar could have chosen [either] candidates," another viewer said. "Both Rachel and Phil were credible candidates. I rooted for Phil for his resilience and bounceback-ability after nine losses. Congrats to both of them!"

Phil shared his business idea for Prestige Pies, a bakery business selling pies with a pie delivery service
Phil shared his business idea for Prestige Pies, a bakery business selling pies with a pie delivery service -Credit:BBC/screengrab

Earlier in the episode, Phil pitched his 'Prestige Pies' business idea to a room of business experts. He explained he is an experienced businessman and currently has five pie shops baking pies six days a week. He added that he has recently launched a 'Pies by Post' delivery service. In the last financial year, Phil said he had earnt £2.7million with 10% of this coming from the delivery service - which he felt had the potential to grow exponentially.

Rachel, meanwhile, discussed her fitness business and explained she currently has two high-end premium fitness centres running group-fitness classes led by quality coaches. She added that her proposed new business 'Studio Build' would have a "personal feel" and would create communities where gym-goers could socialise and get to know each other.

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