FIST PUMP! The Apprentice is coming back to our screens - and *these* are the 18 candidates hoping to win a spot as Lord Sugar's business partner

The Apprentice is back! Yes, finally we have something to fill that Great British Bake Off shaped hole in Wednesday nights.

Yes, eighteen fresh new candidates are suited and booted again vying to become Lord Alan Sugar’s business partner – and secure a £250k investment. But there’s a few with a secret past that we’ve discovered!

Lord Sugar will be joined once again by right-hand woman Baroness Karren Brady, and Nick Hewitt’s replacement, Claude Littner.

And Claude’s not the only new face we’ll get to know over the coming weeks. Get ready to meet this year’s Apprentice candidates, below and in the gallery above!

Aisha Kasim, 30, Inventor & Hair Extensions Specialist

Nigeria-born Aisha now lives in London, where she runs a beauty business specialising in extensions, wigs and hair products. She also invented a heated hair bun accessory that curls the hair and wrote the jingle for the product. Skills. We wonder if she’ll find time to do her fellow candidates’ hair? Probably not.

She says: ‘Pressure makes diamonds. It’s something I respond well to, I think it’s go hard or go home.’

Brett Butler-Smythe, 28, Builder

Former Royal Navy engineer-turned-successful-property-businessman Brett will be hoping to sail through this year’s show with his mantra ‘work hard, play hard, work harder.’ And, whilst he lists commitment and being trustworthy as his biggest strengths, he reckons he has no weaknesses. Maybe he should add modesty to that list?

He says: ‘I pride myself on not having any negative or bad traits about myself, they’re all good, they’re all positive.’

Dan Callaghan, 23, Fragrance Retailer

After starting his career by spending a year working for an MEP in Brussels, Dan now makes a living selling posh pongs, citing turning his fragrance company around after a difficult few years as the business achievement he is most proud of.

He says: ‘I’m just a generally all round quite entertaining person, I think. A lot of people laugh at me.’

The Apprentice 2015 candidate April Jackson

April Jackson, 26, Jamaican Boutique Owner

April is pretty #jetset, having lived in London, Jamaica, France and New York. She’s also a blend of brains and beauty, having founded a successful event management company, a children’s charity and a London-based Jamaican boutique, as well as winning was Miss Jamaica 2007 and Miss Jamaica Universe in 2008. Phew!

She says: ‘I’m Jamaican. We come first, we win on the track and we will win in the boardroom.’

David Stevenson, 25, Sports Marketing Company Owner

Can he kick it? Well, yes, it would seem so. As a sports marketing expert, David and his company specialise in getting more bums on seats at sporting events, and he cites a sell-out game between two women’s national teams at Wembley as his greatest achievement.

He says: ‘Me and Lord Sugar will work together because you’ve got age and beauty and those two go hand in hand all the time. Sugar’s got the age and I certainly am beautiful.’

Elle Stevenson, 21, Operations Executive, Construction

We may just have the female Del Boy on our hands in Elle, who describes herself as a ‘geezer bird’ – and also ‘a little insane’. At just 21 – the youngest candidate in the group – she’s already reached the dizzy heights of Operations Director at a construction company. Still, it’s no surprise when her business inspiration is Taylor Swift, who she calls ‘the best businesswoman of the 21st century’.

She says: ‘I hate anything mediocre – I can’t be middle. I hate being the person that comes second… I’ve never been the person that comes second. I’d rather be the one who fell over at the start of the race and never make it to the finish line.’

Gary Poulton, 34, Programme Manager

Brummie Gary’s business expertise comes thanks to seven years spent working in a leading supermarket chain as a Programme Manager (anyone else instantly picturing Peter Kay in Car Share?). He describes himself as someone who likes to succeed in all he does.

He says: “I look like the nice, easy going, laidback Brummie but once I start doing my business, people know I’m the real deal.’

Jenny Garbis, 23, Business Management Student

Recent graduate Jenny is bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and throwing herself head-first into the world – starting with The Apprentice. A keen feminist, she cites actress Emma Watson as an inspiration for her role in the recent ‘He for She’ campaign, and says if she didn’t work in business she’d like to give politics a try.

She says: ‘You will see my name in lights – Jenny Garbis, don’t forget that. That’s going to be a global name. That’s going to be an entrepreneur everyone looks up to.’

The Apprentice 2015 Charleine Wain

Charleine Wain, 31, Hair and Beauty Salon Owner

Charleine served in the Royal Navy for over eleven years before leaving to follow her business dream. In addition to successfully setting up her own hair and beauty salon and online clothing boutique, Charleine has raised over £20,000 for charity thanks to her work as a calendar girl (above). Does this make her the Helen Mirren of this year’s competition?

She says: ‘I would describe myself as very determined, ambitious, and I always want to show that women can succeed in business.’

Joseph Valente, 25, Plumbing Business Owner

Citing Hugh Hefner as one of his role models, could Joseph be shaping up to be the playboy of this year’s series? Owner of a plumbing company, he says running a business is like being a parent because it needs undivided attention and nurturing, and reckons he applied for the show because he feels it is his destiny to be Lord Sugar’s business partner.

He says: ‘I am the definition of success, I’m a godfather of business and I’m here to make Lord Sugar a lot of money.’

Mergim Butaj, 23, Sales Account Manager

Mergim has had a pretty challenging life so far, having fled war-torn Kosovo with his family when he was just seven years old. Since the age of 18, he’s been supporting his family with a range of jobs from sales to waiting tables. Surely all good experience for The Apprentice?

He says: ‘Why am I a worthy business partner for Lord Sugar? I’d be a challenge to him. Everyone he’s met probably sucks up to him. I won’t, I’ll tell him like it is.’

Natalie Dean, 25, Corporate Account Manager, Telecoms

Will self-confessed tomboy Natalie be a match for the men (and women) of this year’s Apprentice? With a business background in corporate management in the telecoms industry, it remains to be seen if the Sheffield Wednesday supporter has got what it takes.

She says: ‘If I set my mind to something I won’t quit until I have done it.’

Sam Curry, 23, Private Tutor

With a passion for the arts that has seen him appear in various films and stage productions, private tutor Sam names Richard Branson as one of his main business inspirations because, like the Virgin founder, he believes you don’t need to be ruthless or cruel in business to succeed. Aww.

He says: ‘I’m an interesting mix between happy go lucky and adventurous and then quite logical and sensible. It’s a strange combination.’

The Apprentice 2015 Scott Saunders

Scott Saunders, 27, Senior Account Manager, Sales

Altogether now: *sings* macho, macho man! Like a real-life Superman, underneath Scott’s business suit lies a serious buff body – as the snap above shows. But there’s more to him than just bulging biceps; he describes himself as sharp, motivated and obsessed with making his first million… #Goals.

He says: ‘People do say to me they’ve never met anyone like me.’

Selina Waterman-Smith, 31, Events Agency Owner

Selina studied in the UK before setting up her own events company in Dubai (alright for some, eh?), which sees her incorporating her performing arts background with the circus (!) into many of the events her company hosts. She describes herself as feisty, strong and kind.

She says: ‘I am strong minded… I do like to be the leader.’

Vana Koutsomitis, 27, Social Media Entrepreneur

Vana cites actor-turned-investor Ashton Kutcher as one of her biggest business inspirations, and confesses to having been entrepreneurial since the age of seven when she sold her old toys on the streets of her childhood home, New York. She also speaks no less than five language – which could come in handy if Lord Sugar has the candidates hop on a plane as he’s been known to do.

She says: ‘I believe this is a marathon and if you have stamina and if you do things with integrity, morals and direction, you can get where you want to go.’

Richard Woods, 31, Digital Marketing Agency Director

Describing himself as self-assured and ambitious, Richard – who has built no less than four successful companies to date – says his only regret is not being a millionaire before turning 30. Yeah, us too.

He says: ‘I’m a Swiss army knife of bouncy skills, business skills, enthusiasm, I’ve got everything highly tuned and highly chiselled.’

Ruth Whiteley, 47, Sales Training Consultancy Owner

Ruth describes herself as positive, colourful and driven – no surprise for someone who used to host a mid-morning show at her local radio station. Given her penchant for chatting, it’s also no surprise that she’s found business success in telephone sales, setting up teams for a multi-national company.

She says: ‘Lord Sugar might think I’m a bit gushing, he might find me over-zealous, but I think he’ll think I’m great.’