Former contestants of The Apprentice from Kent share their experiences and advice as new series approaches

Stephanie Affleck and Felipe Alviar-Baquero, two former contestants of the hit reality show The Apprentice, have shared their experiences and insights with KentOnline. As the new series approaches, the two entrepreneurs reflect on their time on the show and what they have been up to since then.

Both Stephanie and Felipe hail from Kent, a county that has seen many of its residents compete on the show over the years. However, their journeys have been unique and have taken them down different paths.

Stephanie Affleck was part of the first-ever all-female semi-final on The Apprentice. Despite only having her business for a month before appearing on the show, she was determined to make a mark and showcase her idea. The 30-year-old had previously worked as an events planner, but she had always dreamed of creating an online store selling pre-loved designer wear for children.

Stephanie shared that she started her business after being made redundant due to the pandemic. She said, “People often assume that being on TV means you have been in business for years, but that wasn’t the case for me. I saw The Apprentice as a platform to expose my idea and get the funding I needed to make it a reality.”

Although she didn’t make it to the final round, Stephanie believes that her appearance on the show gave her business the boost it needed. She went from cold-calling and emailing other business owners to being in the same rooms as them when the show aired. She said, “It gave me notoriety in the field I wanted to work in. I found so many people contacted me after. I would not have got the opportunities I have had without it.”

For those looking to start a business, Stephanie’s advice is to know your market, become an expert in it, network early on in the process, and work out your costs to see how realistic your idea is. She added, “It is a long time until you can start paying yourself out of your profits, but believe in your idea.”

Another former contestant from Kent is Felipe Alviar-Baquero, who appeared on the show in 2014. His run came to an end over a paper skeleton, which he had bought in a desperate attempt to spend as little as possible during a task that involved negotiating the best prices for different items. Lord Sugar told the Colombian-born candidate that he tried to be “too much of a smart person” and was fired for the error in the ninth week.

Felipe, who was a lawyer at the time, owned the children’s soft play area Tiny Town in Larkfield. The business was forced to close in 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions. If he had won The Apprentice, Felipe intended to expand the firm across the country. However, despite the business’ collapse, the dad-of-three is still keen to encourage younger people to get involved in entrepreneurship. He said, “It is about understanding how to create value and give back to society.”

This year’s series of The Apprentice does not feature anyone from Kent, but viewers can expect to see Lord Sugar, Baroness Karen Brady, and Tim Campbell back on the show. The new series kicks off by sending the candidates to the Scottish Highlands to put on high-end days out for corporate clients.

Watch The Apprentice on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from today (Thursday, February 1).

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