The Apprentice final review: Marnie Swindells deservedly scoops top prize as she knocks out Rochelle Anthony

Lord Alan Sugar’s 18th business partner is boxing champ turned lawyer Marnie Swindells - Credit: BBCLord Alan Sugar’s 18th business partner is boxing champ turned lawyer Marnie Swindells - Credit: BBC
Lord Alan Sugar’s 18th business partner is boxing champ turned lawyer Marnie Swindells - Credit: BBC | BBC / Fremantle
Marnie Swindells walked away with a £250,000 investment from Lord Alan Sugar after winning this year's show

We have a winner! The boxing barrister, Marnie Swindells, always on the front foot, so fierce in fighting her corner, easily out-manoeuvred her rivals. She deserved her prize. She dominated in each episode but it was her impressive prep work which won it for her. She’d worked out how to share her back-story to good effect.  

Qualifying as a barrister and winning gold-medals in boxing are impressive achievements in themselves but for a girl who lost her father when she was eight and grew up poor in a caravan, it’s all the more remarkable. Marnie used this as an inspirational story rather than looking for sympathy votes, but she also skillfully weaved it into her business brand “who could you be?” as a sucker punch to anyone who might doubt her.

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When it came to pitching her business idea, you could see that unlike some of her rivals, this wasn’t a notion dreamt up on the day her application to the Apprentice went in, it was something she had been working on with a passion for over three years. She knew what she was talking about, had already secured funding, identified premises, knew exactly how it should look and feel and what the USP’s  are. Her ex-team mates may have been drafted in to help her, but they were there to carry out her orders.

The Apprentice winner Marnie Swindells is a court advocate from London and a gold medal-winning boxer who can be headstrong.The Apprentice winner Marnie Swindells is a court advocate from London and a gold medal-winning boxer who can be headstrong.
The Apprentice winner Marnie Swindells is a court advocate from London and a gold medal-winning boxer who can be headstrong. | BBC

Lord Sugar’s investment will undoubtedly be a huge boost for her business and if she can use her advocacy skills to persuade customers to join the gym, while Sugar’s team handles the business mechanics, then this could be a very effective partnership. However, it’s not easy running any business. The single-mindedness and bossiness that got her this far may also be a hindrance when you’re dealing with stakeholders with their own ideas.

Marnie’s pitch is to broaden the appeal of boxing, that she is selling “feelings, not fists” and that just as boxing helped shape her story  it can do the same for others. This may be a harder sell than she thinks when most people are generally reluctant to get their head bashed about or sport bruises which leave people wondering about their home life.

However, given the state of the nation, maybe Marnie could channel the anger found routinely on social media, on roads or pretty much anywhere you find the general public. Rather like those rage rooms where you smash everything up, maybe we’re all in need of some therapeutic, aggressive venting. Perhaps charge premium prices for entry every time the nation’s blood temperature rises, for instance if a certain porky, a blonde, tousle-haired figure appears on your telly or Prince Harry publishes another book.

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Meanwhile finalist Rochelle never stood a chance. Her business idea for a truly inclusive hair salon and academy was laudable and achievable but her growth plan was as unrealistic as the salon metaverse that Avi and Jo created for her. A luxury salon needs more than just a chandelier, a flamingo and a blimp. Till next year.

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