For the past five weeks, 10 young candidates from across the UK have faced an education like no other as they embarked on a series of tough tasks that pushed their business skills to the limit, in BBC One’s Junior Apprentice. The tasks were challenging, demanding and tough – and there could only ever be one winner.
Seventeen-year-old A-Level student Arjun Rajyagor beat off stiff competition from nine other talented teens to land the title Junior Apprentice and access to a £25,000 fund, which will go towards kick-starting his business career. He becomes the first ever Junior Apprentice and will now continue to concentrate on his education before developing his future career.
In last Thursday’s final task, Arjun and fellow A-Level student Tim Ankers worked together on Team Instinct opposite the final two girls, Zoe Plummer and Kirsty Cleaver, who led Team Revolution.
The teams were tasked with creating their own brand of bottled water. They had to come up with a name, develop the product identity and film a TV advert complete with jingle before presenting their prototype to leading industry experts – and Lord Alan Sugar.
Tim and Arjun and their team – consisting of Emma Walker, Rhys Rosser and Adam Eliaz – developed a simple product and a straightforward brand identity in place with “A Bottle of Water”. Their confident pitch was made even stronger with their assured response to questions from the floor, impressing the experts and Lord Sugar.
Meanwhile, Zoe and Kirsty’s team – consisting of Jordan De Courcy, Hannah Cherry and Hibah Ansary – developed a brand aimed at the youth market with a stylish design, but a mixed consumer message. The experts were impressed with their presentation, but concerned that suggesting their water could be of benefit to people’s health was unjustified.
In the nail-biting final boardroom scene, Lord Sugar expressed just how blown away with their efforts he was as he told them: “The presentations that both teams put on were absolutely incredible. You are an inspiration.”
Lord Sugar told Zoe and Kirsty that he thought their TV advert “looked like a mugging on a council estate,” and Zoe responded by saying: “What’s already out there are numerous, countless bottles of simple water. We wanted to go for something bold, something fresh and something that targets a market that hasn’t already been targeted.”
He told Tim and Arjun: “The bottle of water was very simple, very defined and quite clearly I understood the concept. The marketing idea didn’t quite come off that well, the pitch wasn’t that great but the professionals were very, very, very impressed.” Arjun and Tim were keen to show Lord Sugar that they worked well as a team, with Arjun saying: “[Tim] sourced the ideas and I brought them to life – we worked well together.”
After some careful deliberation, Lord Sugar told the girls: “Ladies, your business model was flawed in the target market that you chose. On balance, I’m sorry to say that your team has lost. It’s a hard loss because I can’t stop going on about how impressed I’ve been with both of you throughout the whole of the contest. I know you’re going to be successful and I want you to go on and do what you’re good at doing.”
He went on to tell Kirsty: “You want to be a little more upfront and not so much of a busy bee behind the scenes,” and said to Zoe: “You’ve got it all, you just need to get that character right.”
The boys won the task, but Lord Sugar was left with a tough decision. After consulting Nick and Karren, he made his final verdict as he told them:
“Arjun, I’ve spoken of your apparent soft nature, your clear academic qualifications. My concerns about you adapting and trying to show that you can actually come up with that seed and spark of an idea that is needed in business.
“Tim, you started off, we were a bit concerned about you, to be honest with you. There were times when I was really tossing up in my mind if you should be on your way home.
“It’s a tough choice. And I’m not going to worry about the runner-up, because I know that the runner-up is going to succeed anyway.”
For decades a supporter of young people in business, Lord Sugar decided to give 10 of the UK’s most ambitious and driven teenagers the opportunity of a lifetime, and he wasn’t disappointed.
Over 28,000 applied, only 10 made the cut. Lord Sugar’s search for his first Junior Apprentice has come to an end.
After the final, Arjun said: “It’s been an amazing opportunity and I can’t believe I’m the first Junior Apprentice. It’s absolutely mind-blowing and it hasn’t even set in yet. Tim was the greatest opponent anybody could have ever wanted. My parents are so ecstatic and I hope I’ve done them proud. To think of the amount of opportunities this will open up for me is just amazing.”
Lord Sugar said: “Arjun has that natural business flair combined with intelligence that some people are born with – you can’t learn it. I know that Arjun is going to become the best at whatever he wants to do and I will be here for support all the way. I was so impressed with all of the candidates – they were outstanding for their age – but there had to be just one winner, and Arjun has done himself and his family proud.”
On runner-up, Tim, Lord Sugar said: “It was a very tough choice – Tim is a very bright lad whose family and friends should take great pride in seeing how well he did in such a tough contest. I know that he is going to succeed in whatever he chooses to do. Any time he wants to call me for any advice he’s genuinely more than welcome to, 24/7.”
Tim said: “It is always hard coming so close to first after such a long process, but to have been placed below such a capable candidate as Arjun makes it a lot easier. I wish him all the best for the future and intend to stay close friends with him.
“For me, now, concentrating on my A-Levels is paramount and I could also do with a good offer of employment! It was such an enjoyable experience – one which I will never forget.”
Kirsty said: “It is disappointing. I got so close but, at the end of the day, I’ve learnt so much from this experience and I’m leaving this with my head held high. It’s just amazing to think how far I have come.”
Zoe said: “I came here to prove my business mind, my business acumen, my intuition and skills and that is what I did. I may have fallen slightly short of the last hurdle here but that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of me. I’m going to keep on working and be a success in business.”
Arjun is in the process of completing his A-Levels whilst continuing to run his computer repair business from home. He has received a conditional offer to study engineering science at Oxford University and hopes to one day become his own boss of an electrical engineering company.
Education: A-Levels in physics, maths and systems & control, AS-Level further maths
Self-confessed maths fanatic Arjun loves computers – he built his own aged 12 and now runs a repair business from his bedroom.
He says: “Always look at the end goal and find a way to get there. Do what has to be done and never allow yourself to look back in regret.”