How to win over Lord Sugar: Former Young Apprentice winner Zara Brownless offers a few tips to the fresh-faced new candidates
21:30 GMT, 26 October 2012
Zara Brownless was not only the most mature of her rivals when she won Young Apprentice last year; she was probably the most mature of all of Lord Sugar's apprentices, young or old.
The 16-year-old refused to cave in to pressure to put down her colleagues or blame them when things went wrong. She also avoided the me-me-me attitude that makes The Apprentice such fascinating entertainment.
Zara Brownless, left, was probably the most mature of all of Lord Sugar's (right) apprentices, young or
old, when she won Young Apprentice last year
Instead, Zara went in with a well-rehearsed game plan that this year's Young Apprentice contestants might want to take note of.
'I looked at mistakes people have made in the past and thought about how I was going to avoid repeating them,' she says. 'I put a lot of effort into how I was going to present myself on the show. I gave myself some policies to follow; do what is best for the task not what is best for you, try and keep ego out of the equation, don't get catty in the boardroom.'
Zara, the well-spoken elder daughter of an architect and a private tutor from Harpenden in Hertfordshire, has often been called mature – or old before her time – by family friends.
She won a sock-designing competition at the age of seven and by the time she appeared on Young Apprentice last year she'd already made a video for a local charity and come top of her school in her GCSEs.
The new intake of contestants on this year's Young Apprentice, with Lord Sugar, centre
She insists the more challenging the task on Young Apprentice, the more she enjoyed it, 'The whole challenge element of the show is part of its charm.' So the small matter of trying to impress Lord Sugar was never going to intimidate her.
'I try not to be intimidated by anybody because if you are that limits the interaction you'll have with them,' she says sagely. She's still in touch with his Lordship – he recently gave her advice on which video equipment she should buy with some of her 25,000 winnings.
Since winning Young Apprentice last year she's been busy studying for her A-Levels – she's determined to fulfil her 'childhood dream' of getting into Oxford to read English literature – and learning more about making videos. She won't be spending all her money at once as she wants to save it for when she goes into film production.
Lord Sugar, centre, with fellow Young Apprentice judges Karren Brady and Nick Hewer
But she's not all work and no play. 'I completely indulge in a very lazy habit of watching TV,' she admits. 'There are lots of business people who work around the clock, but I believe in watching television and having the odd early night. Very middle-aged, I know.'
Indeed. The only time she sounds even the teensiest bit like a teenager is when I ask about boys. She giggles. 'There are a couple of men who've become more interested in me since I was on national TV but I haven't returned that sentiment. But I'm sure they're lovely gentlemen; that's just one of the things that comes with fame.'
So, no boyfriend then 'No, I'm too busy with more important things,' she says sternly. Smart cookie.
Young Apprentice starts on Thursday at 8pm on BBC One.