A former finalist in the BBC1 TV show, The Apprentice, who went on to set up his own successful business, has told how being fired from the Boardroom made him even more determined to succeed.
Courtney Wood, 31, a runner-up in the 2016 series, was told by Lord Sugar that he would never make money designing novelty gifts, but the Essex entrepreneur refused to let that withering assessment dampen his ambitions.
He set up Bubblegum Stuff, a novelty gift company in 2013 while living in Hong Kong and after returning to the UK applied for a £10,000 loan from the Start-up Loans Company, using the money for product development and marketing.
The business, which sells gifts ranging from flamingo champagne flutes to space rocket baby bottles, is expected to turn over £250,000 this year. He has recently signed a range of deals with leading retailers, including Urban Outfitters, Paperchase, and River Island, and has also expanded to America.
As well as supplying retailers, Courtney has recently re-launched bubblegumstuff.com to allow customers to purchase products online in time for Christmas.
Speaking ahead of the new series which starts tonight, Courtney said that since the 2016 series he has turned down multiple offers from investors.
“Being shunned by Lord Sugar in the Boardroom has made me determined to prove to him wrong, “he said. “He told me that I would never make money designing and selling novelty gifts. However, this year, with over 20 new products hitting the shelves on the High Street, I believe that he may now be questioning his decision.
“I’m on course for a very successful year and as much as I would have liked to have won the Apprentice, I do hold the advantage that I don’t have to split my profits with Lord Sugar. Since the show, I’ve turned down multiple offers from investors and I still own 100% of the business.”
SULCo has lent more than 58,000 loans totalling over £440 million to start-ups and early stage businesses across the UK since it was set up 2012.
A spokesman for the Start-up Loans Company, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to hear that Courtney wasn’t discouraged by his encounter with Lord Sugar in the Boardroom. We’re here to help and support anyone with an ambition to set up their own business, wherever you are in the UK.”