‘The world’s your oyster, James’

Programme Name: Young Apprentice - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 8) - Embargoed for publication until: 12/12/2011 - Picture Shows: Strictly embargoed until Monday 12th December 2011. James McCullagh - (C) Talkback Thames - Photographer: Screen grab
Programme Name: Young Apprentice - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 8) - Embargoed for publication until: 12/12/2011 - Picture Shows: Strictly embargoed until Monday 12th December 2011. James McCullagh - (C) Talkback Thames - Photographer: Screen grab

COLERAINE student James McCullagh was pipped at the post in last night’s final of The Young Apprentice, being beaten in second place by winner Zara Brownless.

However, programme boss Lord Alan Sugar praised James as a “worthy finalist” who was a great salesman throughout the process.

“The world of business is his oyster,” said Lord Sugar.

16 year old A-Level student Zara beat off stiff competition from eleven other talented teens to land the title of Young Apprentice and access to a £25,000 fund, which will go towards kick-starting her business career.

In last night’s final, Zara and fellow A-Level student James from Loreto College went head to head in the final task where they had to devise and develop a brand new online video game and an accompanying viral advert before pitching their ideas to industry experts alongside Lord Sugar himself.

The finalists were tasked with creating their own gaming demo; coming up with a name, a playable level and exploring its expansion potential into spin-offs or merchandise as well as filming a visual advert that could go viral and drive gamers to their product.

Zara, joined by a team of former candidates including Ben, Mahamed, Harry M, Gbemi and Haya, developed ‘Piggy Panic’ a platform game which required users to help the main character Porky Pete escape from a butcher.

Meanwhile James, joined by Lewis, Harry H, Lizzie and Hannah developed ‘Crazy Cabinet’ a game that allowed the player to assume the role of Prime-Minister in a time management challenge.

In the nail-biting final boardroom scene, Lord Sugar expressed just how blown away he was with their efforts as he reflected: “You have to keep reminding yourself that they are only 17, it is spectacular stuff.”

Lending support to Zara, Nick Hewer said: “As a completely dispassionate observer I’d just like to say I thought Zara handled it firmly, calmly and fairly. I think she did a very professional job.”

In the race to win Lord Sugar’s approval, James and Zara went head to head exchanging business blows and critiquing each other’s weaknesses but it was Zara who reigned supreme, side-stepping James’ suggestion that her articulate speech was just a way of “dressing things up.”

Delivering his final verdict, Lord Sugar said: “Zara you’re calm, articulate and you look to be in control of your emotions which is a good thing when you’re in business.”

Reflecting on her win, Zara said: “To say this is a dream come true doesn’t even come close - I’ve loved the whole Young Apprentice experience and taken so much from it, and now I’m so excited about what the future holds for my business career.”

Lord Sugar said: “It was a hugely tough decision but Zara really showed wisdom and clarity far beyond her years. I look forward to seeing her develop her film company into a hugely successful business. James was a very worthy finalist and a great salesman throughout the process. The world of business is his oyster.”