A £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar is within touching distance for Peterborough’s star of The Apprentice after he battled through the gruelling interview stage to make it into the final.
Joseph Valente may have shaved off his trademark moustache before taking on four big executives in the penultimate episode of the contest, but his passion, drive and cheeky attitude were enough to impress Lord Sugar and his aides.
Plumbing boss Joseph was told by Lord Sugar his idea to franchise his Impra-Gas business was a non-starter, but the billionaire businessman and House of Lords peer was encouraged enough by Joseph’s straight-talking and positivity that he sent him through to the final alongside Vana Koutsomitis.
During tonight’s episode (Wednesdau, December 16) Lord Sugar was quick to highlight Joseph’s newly clean-shaven face, telling him: “You’ve gone from looking like Boycie, a second-hand car dealer, to a credible businessman.”
He went on to tell the 25-year-old: “You’ve done some great things at a young age, but it troubles me that this is a small-time thing.”
However, Joseph tried to alleviate Lord Sugar’s fears by pointing out that he had made £60,000 in the 24 months since starting out in his business, adding: “I’ve only been going two years, imagine what I can do in 10 years.”
The peer again expressed fears about Joseph’s youth, telling him: “Joseph, my concern is to whether you are mature enough yet, whether you’re here too early for me.”
But he added: “You’re a business that I can understand and I also understand that you’re very, very determined and so I’m going to tell you right now, Joseph, that you are going to be in the final.”
Joseph was grilled about his business plan by Claude Littner, Claudine Collins, Mike Soutar and Linda Plant at the Leadenhall Building in the Square Mile, but he came out of it in better shape than some of the other candidates, especially Richard Woods, and his confidence appeared to impress the interrogators.
Striding into his interviews with a purpose, he stated that he liked to think of himself as a romancer. And he also came through a test given to him on Lord Sugar’s history as a businessman after he had claimed that his book was so inspiring that “he did not sleep for weeks.”
Richard, Gary Poulton and Charleine Wain were the three candidates to be fired in the boardroom.
The final airs on BBC One on Sunday at 9pm with Lord Sugar choosing his next business partner at the end.