IRISH hospital doctor Leah Totton has beaten 15 other candidates to become the winner of Series 9 of The Apprentice.
The Derry-born 24-year-old tonight secured a business partnership with Lord Sugar with an investment worth up to £250,000 based on her Botox clinic business plan.
Totton described the decision by Lord Sugar to go into business with her after the 12-week process as “absolutely unbelievable, it’s amazing”.
She added: “I had much less experience than the other candidates in business coming in to the process and I really can’t believe that I have got this far and that I’ve actually won it! I can’t believe it.
“I’m really going to do everything that I can to prove that he has made the right decision and I won’t let him down.”
Lord Sugar added last night: “She’s a very determined young woman, and it’s a very interesting industry, and she’s the most interesting candidate, and she has the most interesting business proposition.”
Of runner-up Luisa he added: “In the case of Luisa, she has three businesses already, and the business she was proposing to me is already very much what she is already doing, she’s going to be OK.”
Luiza herself said: “I’m disappointed but I couldn’t think of losing to anyone other than Leah. We are very close and she’s an amazing girl, and I’m so happy for her.”
Earlier tonight viewers saw Leah and fellow finalist and Luisa Zissman battle it out with the help of their former Apprentice team mates, and work over the course of three days to produce launch campaigns for their businesses: crafting a brand, a website and a promotional video to present to 100 industry experts and Lord Sugar.
After their toughest task to date, Luisa and Leah were called back to the boardroom to discuss the feedback from industry experts.
Before making his final decision, Lord Sugar asked Leah and Luisa to leave the boardroom so he could consult with aides Karren Brady and Nick Hewer.
Lord Sugar stated: “Two completely different business models. As far as Leah is concerned, she doesn’t look like she wants to listen. It’s all very well being adamant about what you want to do but she will need to listen.”
Karren, who was impressed by the young professional from Derry, responded to Lord Sugar’s concerns: “I have to say, having observed her closely, she is an incredibly bright young woman. I mean she really does know what she’s talking about.
“She’s shown that she can take a gift that she has and use that to create a business. I think that shows a really unique skill.”
Lord Sugar reflected on Luisa: “Earlier on in the process, Luisa came across as a bit difficult I would say.”
Karren responded: “I was definitely worried at one point if there was a business woman behind that persona she puts across, but I think she’s proved she understands the business, she’s got a proposition that’s investable and that she’s learnt from what you’ve told her and she’s changed and adapted her style.”
Summing up, Lord Sugar said: “We’ve got two very investable candidates here, it’s not going to be an easy decision.”
Leah and Luisa were brought back into the boardroom to hear Lord Sugar tell them: “Well ladies, this is the most important meeting we are going to have in this process here. It’s the most difficult for me, because we do have two very credible business plans. I’d like to give you a last opportunity of explaining to me why you think you should be my business partner.”
Luisa was invited to respond first, stating: “I think I should be your business partner. The business that I’m pitching, I know will be profitable. Also, as a person, I have a lot of business experience of starting and running businesses and I would love to have you as my business partner.”
Leah said: “I think I’m first of all, pitching a fantastic business opportunity, completely unique and it’s extremely lucrative. And also, you’re investing in me as a person and I genuinely think I’m a dependable, trustworthy person to invest in. And I really think that this is a fantastic opportunity for you and myself.”
Deciding on his winner Lord Sugar said: “So, I think I’ve made my mind up now. At the end of the day, the devil in me is wanting to take a risk. Leah, you’re going to be my new business partner.”