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News > OB News > The Apprentice - Fired or Hired?

The Apprentice - Fired or Hired?

We caught up with current 'The Apprentice' candidate, Dean Ahmad (OB 2010-2015) to find out what it's really like in one of the most intense interview processes out there.
31 Oct 2019
OB News

Why did you apply for The Apprentice and what did the application process involve?

I’ve always had a passion for business and so I’ve always believed The Apprentice would be the perfect platform to showcase my skill set. 

It was a rigorous application process, testing aspects of my whole life. They wanted to know about much more than just my career, but of course that’s what it has to be like when 75,000 people apply for only 16 places. Once I got the phone call to say I was in the 2019 series, I knew I was ready and that was hands-down the best decision I’ve ever made. 

What made you want to start up your own business?

I started up my business while I was at Brentwood School and tried to get my sports merchandise into the School Shop. Jump forward five years and I still work within the sports industry but I now run my own sports management agency, which involves looking after professional athletes. Sport was a big part of my time at Brentwood, I remember playing cricket throughout my time at the School. Luckily, I was called up to play in the First XI squad when I was in 3rd Year, so I was able to play a lot of it. 

I left Brentwood after my GCSEs, put in the graft (and networked hard too), and was able to continue with my business full time.

What is it like actually taking part in the tasks and the show generally?

Intense! We all stayed in the house for the entirety of our time on the show, no one got to go home in between tasks or anything. 

Don’t get me wrong, the house was lovely and we did get looked after, but it was complete isolation for 12 weeks (although the time varies, depending on how far you get) - no tv, mobile phones, internet, nothing. You’d get the chance to make one 5-minute phone call a week, so I faced the decision of checking in on how my business was doing without me or talking with my family for moral support, and that was tough.

During the process, we worked up to 15-hour days most of the time and tasks were pretty much back-to-back with very few down days. Plus, every day started off somewhat chaotically because of the ‘20-minute warning’ wake-up calls. They’re absolutely real, honest!

What can we expect to see from you during your time on the show? 

They hit the ground running this year with the first episode set in South Africa, which was an amazing start to the process. None of us met until we walked round the corner one by one, after handing over our business plans, so we were all total strangers. I actually tripped over the first time I walked into the room where we met and had to do it again! 

It was also not until we got into the Boardroom that we met Lord Sugar, Karen and Claude for the first time, and from that moment it’s game on. The first couple of weeks were tough and I had a steep learning curve, with two visits to the Boardroom in two weeks. Lord Sugar really grilled me, quite savagely at times, as only he can. They’re all really sharp and on the ball, especially Karen, so you’ve got to be on your A-game at all times around them. 

What would say are the most important things you learned at Brentwood School that have helped you since leaving?

Aside from the School values of ‘Virtue, Learning and Manners’ that I follow, I would say the best quality I learned was resilience. Brentwood School tries to produce well-rounded young adults that can survive in the real world, and I definitely needed all of my survival techniques for this experience. I faced ups and downs whilst at School (sometimes my cheeky nature got me into a bit of trouble) but I learned how to navigate through these from a young age and that really helped in this process, as well as in the cut-throat business world in general.

What have you learnt from your time on The Apprentice?

The testing nature of the process assesses everything about you, your skills and your resilience. I’d say I walked in as a naïve and cheeky 20-year-old boy, but having now completed the process, I’d like to say I have come out a more refined person in every way.

What are your plans for the future?

I’ll see what happens and how the show pans out! I’m hoping to continue to grow my personal brand whilst also extending my business worldwide but I’ve definitely got a lot of work to catch up on in the more immediate future. The cricket season has been exceptionally successful for both England and Essex, and a couple of my cricketers - Ravi Bopara and Dan Lawrence - just did the double with Essex, so I will be checking in with them for sure.

In the long term, I’ve always wanted to expand from cricket management into other sports, such as football, and to run a multinational, multi-sport agent portfolio, so that’s the endgame for me.

Watch Dean on The Apprentice - BBC1 Wednesdays at 9pm - to see how he gets on.

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