Ten years ago, Alex Wotherspoon was sat in the boardroom waiting for Lord Alan Sugar to give him a grilling.
Now, the 34-year-old runs his own business in Euxton, has another company with his wife Hannah and welcomed his third child just a few days ago.
From an early age, Alex knew he wanted to be his own boss.
Choosing a career in finance, Alex graduated at Aston Business School in Birmingham and moved to Texas, where he worked as a mortgage and finance officer.
While in the states, the American version of The Apprentice, where contestants were competing for a job with Donald Trump, caught his eye.
Little did he know he would end up on the British show a few years later when it aired in 2008.
Alex says: “I worked as a mortgage and finance officer for New South Federal Savings Bank in Houston Texas.
“On the odd occasion I turned the TV on, I enjoyed watching The Apprentice in America when Donald Trump was on it.
“When I moved back to Bolton I watched the British version.
“ I always thought I could do better than the candidates. I certainly still do as the calibre has become weaker over the years.
“It was actually Hannah who sent off an application form for me in 2007 and it went from there.
“A quarter of a million people applied for the show.
“We had to stand in line and say why we would be a good apprentice.
“We had around 30 different interviews, which included one-on-ones and we had mini tasks.
“My process started in Manchester and as I got further through, I went to London.
“As we got down to the last 70 we had psychometric tests to see how we would be on TV. We had further interviews and it soon got down to 30 and I made the final 12.
“I think I got through because I am quite mild mannered and don’t shout the loudest.
“A few people said I was quite manipulative on the show but I didn’t feel I needed to stick my head above the parapet every time.
“I believe in sticking to what you know. I did put myself forward for the first task and I lost which was a poison chalice at the time.
“It was all about choosing the right moment and being able to articulate yourself well when in the boardroom.”
Despite losing his first task. Alex proved his worth to Lord Sugar and his levelheadedness earned him a spot in the final, where he came runner up to Lee McQueen.
Lord Sugar was so impressed with Alex that he also gave him a job doing business development for IT company Xenon.
Alex adds: “I worked for Lord Sugar for six months and really enjoyed it. I don’t think many candidates want to work for him for a long time as they want to move on to other things.
“I never wanted to work for someone else long term – I always wanted to be my own boss. But I learnt a lot and it boosted my CV. I was a great platform to move onto the next thing.
“I would never say I owed my career to Lord Sugar, but it increases your confidence and gives you exposure in terms of presenting yourself in interviews.
“I took a lot from it and it gave me the ability to do a lot of coaching and public speaking with A-level and AS-level students.”
After working for Lord Sugar, Alex became a financial advisor, dealing with bancassurance (selling life assurance and other insurance products and services by banking institutions) at Wigan’s branch of Santander.
But after four years, he wanted to spread his wings and in 2012 he set up his own firm, ARW Wealth Management, in Euxton, which manages investment portfolios for more than 350 clients.
He also owns ARW Enrol Ltd, which is run by his wife Hannah, and deals with workplace pensions.
Alex says: “It was time for me to set up on my own and the company has grown year on year.
“We specialise in inheritance tax, pensions, trust and estate planning work.
“I really enjoy it. I like seeing how different people manage to be successful, which is what it is all about.
“We aim to help people retain their wealth for the next generation. We do a lot of inter generational planning and how to pass income to clients’ children, which I like being involved in.
“From a personal level, I like being my own boss and managing my own diary. I hope to be able to pass the business onto my children. I have two sons, Moses, five, and Beau, three, and a baby girl Nell, who was born a few days ago.
“If I work another 20 years, they can come into the business and I can act as principal in the business.”
Alex, who attended Bolton School, admits he still enjoys watching The Apprentice and is glued to this year’s series.
He says: “The show has changed dramatically since I was in it. It was more of a real business programme.
“There are now 16 candidates, as opposed to 12. So for the first couple of weeks there is a malaise of people rushing around and showing who is the loudest and who can make the craziest decisions.
“It is hard to pick people out as not everyone has the same airtime.
“It is haphazard at the beginning, until more people go and then it gets down to people who have more business acumen.
“I like Michaela Wain, but that is probably because she is from Bolton, where I grew up.
“It is still enjoyable to watch.”
Alex says he still keeps in touch with a few of his fellow candidates from the show, including Kevin Shaw and winner Lee McQueen.
He adds: “I am good friends with Kevin Shaw who also runs a wealth management firm in London and I speak to Lee McQueen every now and again.
“It was our 10 year anniversary of when we took part and there was a get together in London a few weeks ago but I didn’t go as my wife was due to have our baby.”
The Apprentice has created a few names in the reality TV circuit, such as James Hill and Louisa Zissman, but Alex has opted to stay out of the limelight.
He says: “I was never in it for the fame. A few people wanted to gain a reality TV platform but I wanted to focus on the job.
“I have never been tempted by reality TV. I did a daft programme Hole in the Wall after The Apprentice but that was because I felt confident I could win it and I did, raising money for Bolton charity Children’s Opportunity Group.
“I am not really in touch with Lord Sugar anymore. It was quite a while ago now and you move on to the next thing.”
Alex is now looking forward to meeting the new addition to his family and is busy making plans for the future.
He adds: “In terms of business, I want to continue to grow and make sure we continue to serve our clients with a high level of service.
“I am undertaking interviews for another financial advisor.
“In terms of family we are building a house in Heskin which will be finished in July and we will move in there, whilst renting out our current family home.
“Our next goal is to buy a property in the Isle of Arran. My grandparents had a house there for 50 years and we still have family up there.
“I just want to continue to work hard and build portfolios.”
The Apprentice continues on BBC One on Wednesdays at 9pm.