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  1. ITV Report

Meet the new candidates of The Apprentice, featuring 'Tasmanian Devil' and 'Pocket Rocket'

The contestants are hoping to secure a £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar. Credit: BBC

A business boss who likens herself to a "Tasmanian devil", a self-professed "pocket rocket" and a salon owner who describes herself as a "hustler" are among the 18 candidates taking part in the new series of The Apprentice.

This year's line-up of candidates include nine women and nine men between the ages of 24 and 38 and from a wide variety of business backgrounds.

The BBC show returns for its 12th series on October 6, airing on Thursdays for the first time after previously being broadcast on Wednesdays.

The contestants will hope to impress Lord Sugar in order to secure his £250,000 investment in their business plan.

The business tycoon will be joined once again by aides Baroness Karren Brady and Claude Littner as the boardroom antics get under way.

Lord Sugar said of the competition: "You can compare this to being on a life support machine and one of your colleagues here pulling the plug out just to charge their mobile phone up. That's how competitive it will get."

He added that he is only interested in seeing "who's got a good business brain" and that if people taking part are unable to tackle the process and want to complain and moan, they can "send me an email at lordsugar@idontcare.com".

So, who are the candidates who think they've got what it takes?

  • The girls
Top (Left to right): Alana Spencer, Natalie Hughes, Jessica Cunningham (Middle) Rebecca Jeffrey, Grainne McCoy, Aleksandra King (Bottom) Frances Bishop, Trishna Thakrar, Michelle Niziol. Credit: BBC / PA
  • Alana Spender

Spencer is the owner of a baking company and describes herself as determined, creative and charming. She started her first business - a chocolate company - at 17 before moving on to selling cakes.

  • Natalie Hughes

Hughes owns and runs two beauty and clothing businesses and considers her best quality to be her quick thinking, but she is also a persuasive talker who insists that nothing embarrasses her.

  • Jessica Cunningham

Cunningham is the operations director for a PR and marketing agency as well as her online fashion business. She believes her positive, helpful attitude will propel her through tasks. She wants to get close to the other candidates to find out how they operate, analyse their strengths and weaknesses and attempt to use them to her advantage.

  • Rebecca Jeffery

Jeffery works as both the account manager and creative director for a marketing and design business. She prides herself on being relentless and possessing an infectious enthusiasm but admits that numbers and calculations are a weakness for her.

  • Grainne McCoy

With her make-up business, McCoy works throughout the country on projects from film sets to fashion shows. She says her hunger and passion push her to succeed and she puts maximum effort into everything she does.

  • Aleksandra King

Fluent in seven languages, King also describes herself as altruistic and extremely confident, while she also believes she has a gift for spotting a good business opportunity and can sell to anyone.

  • Frances Bishop

Bishop describes herself as talkative with a feisty personality, which she believes is what has got her so far in the business world. She wants to impress Lord Sugar with her strong, positive outlook.

  • Trishna Thakrar

A former semi-professional football player, Thakrar now works for a large IT company providing internal recruitment services. She says her friends would describe her as engaging and funny and believes her best business skill lies in her charm, but that her sensitivity could be her downfall as, if you cross her, she will not hold back.

  • Michelle Niziol

Niziol founded and owns three companies in mortgages, property and lettings and describes herself as straight-talking, passionate and honest but admits that she can sometimes be bossy and impatient.

  • The boys
Top (Left to right) Dillon St Paul, Mukai Noiri, Oliver Nohl-Oser (Middle) Samuel Boateng, JD O'Brien, Paul Sullivan (Bottom) Karthik Nagesan, Sofian Khelfa, Courtney Wood. Credit: BBC / PA
  • Dillon St Paul

St Paul describes himself as talented, kind, very funny and super-creative. He intends to be "Machiavellian" about tasks and will tell white lies if he needs to.

  • Mukai Noiri

Noiri has lived in six countries across three continents and recently gave up his position as a senior communications manager to focus on his business idea. He believes his charm is one of his strongest qualities but is also a straight-talker.

  • Oliver Nohl-Oser

Nohl-Oser is the founder and director of a sausage manufacturer which supplies supermarkets both in the UK and internationally. He believes his greatest business skills lie in his marketing ability and his powers of persuasion.

  • Samuel Boateng

Boateng is responsible for managing and generating new business for more than 700 businesses across London. He regards his ability in developing new and innovative ideas to be his strongest business skill, and says he has excellent public speaking abilities.

  • JD O'Brien

O'Brien believes he can make the best of any situation while still being a "good bloke". He says he is going to put in the hard work and aims to make no mistakes along the way.

  • Paul Sullivan

Sullivan is the director and owner of a marketing company that specialises in finance, technology, construction and property. He is a self-proclaimed charmer but doesn't think he needs a unique selling point to win; consistency and sincerity will put him ahead, he says.

  • Karthik Nagesan

Nagesan says his friends would describe him as a born leader who takes charge and blazes a trail. He cites his role model as Alexander the Great because he is a master strategist and a brilliant tactician.

  • Sofiane Khelfa

Khelfa works in a high-end retail store, negotiating technology sales with high-profile clients and says he has the ability to adapt, deliver and build lasting relationships with people in business. He says his friends might call him over-zealous, but he believes when he gets down to business, his skills and personality will shine.

  • Courtney Wood

Wood designs and creates novelty gifts which he supplies to national and international retailers and describes himself as fun with a positive attitude. He believes his confidence is one of his strongest attributes.