back to article Apprentice runner-up becomes Greggs bigshot

The runner-up of Beeb reality biz game show The Apprentice, Helen Milligan, was overlooked by Lord Shuggie for his £250,000 business investment but she has secured a hefty promotion at bakery chain Greggs. Milligan consistently outperformed the other contestants on the show, fronted by hairy walnut Shuggs, but when it came …


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  1. Enrico Vanni

    Well done to Lord Shugs...

    ..for realising that this country has had its fill (and then some) of 'strategists', marketing execs., consultants and other rent seekers and needs to get back to actually making things, thus giving the win to the only creative person in the group.

    Helen - in the past she'd probably have won it, but this time the Lord was looking for a partner, not a subservient......

    1. Ru

      Oh dear.

      The country has not had its fill of such. Every one of the candidates would be ideal for filling such roles. And making stuff? Seems to me that the financial and legal sectors are doing just fine, and they don't manufacture a whole lot.

      I wonder if the new entrepreneurial format was Siralan's suggestion, or one made by the committee that designed the show. Clearly they made a poor choice of candidates... not a single one of them had a decent business idea. Even the winner's second-rate plan has since been binned, and he'll be carrying on with the old nail-filing business.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        "making stuff? Seems to me that the financial and legal sectors are doing just fine, and they don't manufacture a whole lot."

        Are you a troll?

        The financial sector ran the economy into the ground while the legal sector is only kept busy by the amount of people putting in dodgy claims to claw back some money now that they find themselves in a recession due to the financial sector running the economy into the ground.

        Compare our economy to Germany's, whose gross domestic product rose by 1.5% in the first quarter of 2011 and is forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to rise by 2.5% in 2011 as a whole. The UK, by contrast, grew by 0.5% in the first quarter and is expected to grow just 1.7% for the year.

        The main reason for that?


        High value manufactured products that sell well to Asia. OK some of the "high value" part is pure marketing, but if you can convince someone to pay X amount for a product, then why not?

        There are other reasons too, mainly the lack of a property-owning obsession v cheap rents, banks that *lend*, keeping staff onboard.

        We need more manufacturing, producing goods that can be exported.

        Unfortunately Labour (with assistance from BMW) killed off the last volume car maker.

        But there are engineering niches in the UK, from engines to buses, it is manufacturing that will stabilise the economy (even if previous growth levels are no longer sustainable in the brave new world).

        1. Martin
          Thumb Up

          Good post, apart from the knee-jerk Labour bash....

          Remember it was the Tories in the eighties who shut down most of the manufacturing in the UK and starting this obsession with owning property.

          1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


            "starting this obsession with owning property"

            A communist...

            Fancy living in the North Korea much? They don't own any property there - it all belongs to the beloved leader.

            "Tories in the eighties who shut down most of the manufacturing"

            You mean kicked a few teeth from the unions' greedy maws?

            1. Martin
              Thumb Down


              I don't dispute that the Unions had their teeth kicked in. But unfortunately, the by-product of that tooth-kicking was indeed to destroy the manufacturing industry, and lost many people their jobs, most of whom were moderate people who just wanted to do a good job for reasonable money.

              And to call me a communist because I think that it actually makes sense to rent when you're younger (so that you can be more flexible, and get other jobs elsewhere, and so you don't have a huge millstone round your neck) - well, words fail me.

              Oh, and the Tories also sold off all the decent council housing stock too. So there's no decent rental market any more - particularly in London.

              1. SkippyBing Silver badge

                Err.. about the decline of manufacturing thing

                It was greater under the last Labour administration than the previous Conservative one, so that argument doesn't really stand up.


              2. Anonymous Coward

                good old blame game...

                the real killers of the manufacturing industry in the UK was the unions. They couldent stand the fact that the business owners were about to make a nice profit on any new contracts they landed. The first thing that would happen once the bosses announced a new contract or a new product would be to go out on strike to get a slice of the pie. This put the cost of British made products at a premium.

                it has been right from the beginnings of the industrial revolution that workers have resisted change in working practices and look where its got us.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Thumb Down

                  @good old blame game

                  The union's 'fault' was to demand to be paid like West Germans even though Britsh workers were less productive.

                  Fewer than 1% of companies actually had a strike. The strikes you 'remember' were mostly at Ford, British Leyland, or in the public sector.

                  British made products were expensive because, although British workers worked harder than German workers, they only produced half as much per shift. Low productivity due to lack of investment was the problem. Third rate management with a sense of entitlement that went back to the days of supplying the British Empire was the cause.

                  It's like the World Cup - we witter on about morale and effort, when skills, training, and strategy are what make the difference.

                2. Steen Hive


                  "the real killers of the manufacturing industry in the UK was the unions."

                  As borne out by the fact that European countries that DO manufacture stuff instead of creaming the top off transactions of artificial debt money and calling it "growth' inevitably had and have stronger labour collectivisation than the UK.

                  Manufacturing, entrepreneurship and social contract ARE the foundation of stable growth - anything else is merely pissing the future up against the wall and financial sophistry punted by parasites.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I agree with you

            for agreeing with Sir Wiggum post :)

            but lets not go down the whole which political party screwed us the most as we would go round in circles, forinstance i could say, but what was the reason for selling everything in the 80s, which in part would be for the mess of the 70s and so on. End of the day we all get screwed no matter what colour they are.

            His point is right on the nail though, we absolutely need private sector manufacturing to export and generate wealth unless you sell a service abroad all companies end up doing is feeding on teh same pot of money, only chunks of it disapear out of the country never to be seen again.

            Smaller public sector, bigger private sector making stuff and selling it on, this idea that everyone should go to uni and get deskjobs is possibly one of the reasons things have gone down hill, people have been conditioned in to thinking that anything else is a "lower" job and is beneith them, we need inventors, people that can make something and a financial sector willing to help them, Sugars right, shame others dont think like that tho.

        2. Mark 65 Silver badge

          @Sir Wiggum

          Some valid points, but I have a couple of issues.

          "There are other reasons too, mainly the lack of a property-owning obsession v cheap rents, banks that *lend*, keeping staff onboard."

          You may find out over the coming period that the German banks are in an absolute shitload of woe. There are reputedly big problems stored up in the Landesbanks (effectively state backed by the regions) and I believe the big players (DB, CB, Allianz) will have more than a touch of exposure to Greece etc. That they are lending now is merely a function of the EUs continued back-door banking bailout a.k.a. loans to Greece, Ireland, Portugal et al. Who do you think owns the shit that they are paying coupons on? More money in the door, may as well lend it given projections for manufacturing. Only problem being the dependency on China for the exports.

          As for British manufacturing - it wasn't killed by any party but by its own poor management and shitty quality (which may have been caused by the former). Ever increasing costs didn't help it. Which would you rather have had back in the day, a VW or something from British Leyland? The Germans have manufacturing because their attention is to detail, quality, craftsmanship, and reliability. The only British manufacturers that really had that were the niche car manufacturers that got bought up because they had no scale.

          The demise of British manufacturing just proves that if you're not offering something extra (higher quality, attention to detail etc) then you will compete with the sweatshops and you'll never win that race to the bottom. There's only so much Government can do before it falls foul of interfering in the market and getting a call from the WTO.

          That said, I would love to see it rise once more, as it is needed to give diversification to the tax base, but we have to be a lot smarter about it should the chance come round again and, given the state of sterling, it just might.

        3. Anonymous Coward


          "The financial sector ran the economy into the ground "

          ... it contributed about 10% of the UK's total tax take, actually, Still - carry on.

      2. Steve 16


        Surely, based on her experience at Greggs, Helen is the best placed candidate for filling roles!

  2. TeeCee Gold badge


    It may be a growth industry in the pies business now, but Diego Maradonna can't go on forever.......

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Arrrggghh-otron

    Not quite the sub heading

    "Mince-inna-bun firm bitchslaps Sugar's biz judgement"

    The 'hairy walnut' actually suggested that Helens employers would do well to give her a promotion as she would have won a job if this years Apprentice had stuck to the old format.

  4. pisquee

    Wasn't Fired!

    What caught my attention is that she didn't receive the "You're Fired!" line from Alan, so I was expecting her to be given a job working with Tom on the new project, as they worked together quite well.

  5. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    I said from the second I watched the episode:

    He should have offered Tom the partnership on the condition that Helen works for them both and organises things. They even said just minutes before that Tom worked best and won whenever Helen was organising him on the team. She'd cost a small percentage of the investment he was putting in but would produce far more productivity from Tom than that.

    Sometimes, the answer is staring you in the face, like on a previous series where they had to advertise a new music gadget - one team had the idea of saying that you can't carry your jukebox with you, but you can carry the gadget, and had to think of a TV advert idea. And literally MINUTES later they were struggling to push a full-size jukebox up the stairs into the studio in order to film their advert. Stop what you're doing, get the camera, film it, that's your advert - you trying to push a jukebox everywhere you go instead of just using gadget X. Instead, they had some overly-abstract piece of crap.

  6. RichD

    Not fired?

    I don't think he's ever said "you're fired" to the runner up, it's always just been "you're hired" to the winner.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Sounds good but

      WIth 250k start-up capital you can't afford to hire senior executive staff while you don't even have a product to sell (that chair idea is complete rubbish).

      His only option was to offer her a stake in the company together with Tom, but that would have been a major change of plan and was probably beyond the scope of Apprentice.

      They may still offer her a job AFTER they come up with a sellable product idea...

    2. Just Thinking

      It would spoil the moment

      No real way to do it. Saying "you're fired" first would spoil the moment, saying it afterwards is just unnecessary.

    3. Seanie Ryan
      Paris Hilton

      how it should have happened

      Hire all 4

      Put Tom in with his Nail File and more ideas. Susan's skin care business compliments this so add her product range too that she heads up and develops more in consultation with Tom. Helen oversees the operation, make it a well-oiled organised unit. Jim goes out selling the stuff... perfect

      1. Arrrggghh-otron

        Thats a TV series right there...

        If they did a fly on the wall documentary following the setting up of the company with some substance (i.e. the actual setting up process) and not just back stabbing and arguing then that might provide some interesting telly along with some serious product exposure.

    4. Mark Aggleton


      Do people actually watch that garbage show beyond the first episode?

      1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

        Do people actually watch that garbage show beyond the first episode?

        Yes. Purely for that moment when the back-stabbing, management-phrase-speaking, underachieving wastrel that can only speak their way through their job rather than provide the numbers gets into the boardroom, torn apart, throws a strop but still ends up getting fired.

        How I wish it were some of the people like that that I know, and that the "You're Fired" referred to their current jobs...

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Given time-off

    So Greggs gave her time-off to take part and then be able to come back with lots of publicity ... that's pretty close to product placement!

    I thought the whole point of "The Apprentice", at least in previous series, was that the contestants staked everything on this opportunity and were required to resign from their existing jobs first. I'm sure that used to be part of the intro spiel to each episode when the "six figure salary" was the main theme.

  8. Evil Weevil

    To work at Greggs.....

    .....shurely, you have to fulfill the following criteria:

    1) Look like Rebecca Addlington.

    2) If female, have a moustache.

    3) Appeared on the Jeremy Kyle show.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      DOWNvotes ???

      I can only assume the downvoters to your comment work for Greggs......

      Her first job (certainly in Dartford, which I believe to be in the SE) should be to train 'em in Customer Service skills.

      Smiling would be a start,

  9. Darren Coleman

    Given time off to ...apply for another job?

    Anyone else find this a bit peculiar? I mean I know it's a show but ultimately the objective is still to resign from your current job and take up a new one. It's not like it's time off to appear on Big Brother or something.

    I guess Greggs figured it would be worth it in publicity (somehow?), together with this public promotion?

    /me confused

    1. Jolyon


      They are just a good employer that realises letting someone have a go at something like this is the right thing to do even if it ends up losing out on a good employee at the end of it.

      1. Jacqui


        Maybe she agreed with her employer that if she "won" she would refuse the post.

        This is probably why suralan gave the job to rodney - she had been offere dit and

        had turned it down :-)

        Makes more sense than the manufacturing excuse - because this Rodney is more

        of a marketing bod. He certainly does not have the skills or kudos Dyson,"Major Dick"

        or even a Guy Martin. My GSD's have probably used more tools than him.

  10. Purlieu

    Sounds like ..

    "B" Ark material to me

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge


      every constestant or SirAlan himself as 'B Ark' commander?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Given time off to ...apply for another job?

    Maybe it was blackmail ... she went up to her boss to say that she was going to go on The Apprentice and clearly she would win everything and get to pitch her plan which would be for a chain of bakery shops - since she already had all the contact lists etc from Greggs she'd make this a great success and put Greggs out of busines .... but, if they'd promise to take her back after the series with a big promotion then she'd go on, win everything, get loads of publicity for Greggs and then pitch a hairbrained idea which she had no contact lists for etc so the she couldn't possibly be selected by Lord Sugar!

  12. Chuckl

    Questions to which the answer is ....

    'Given the short-lived careers of the other Apprentice winners, she's probably done the right thing anyway...'

    I think the question is rather, whether Greggs have done the right thing?

  13. Old Painless

    Is this serious???

    I thought that program was a spoof ! This means the idiots on there aren't jobbing comedians, but really are delusional robots who think christopher columbus invented pie and mash

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Is this serious???

      no, he invented the potato

    2. Daniel 1

      Well, they are talking to the inventor of the em@iler...

      America's version of The Apprentice gets Donald Trump, while we get this belligerent cockney midget - a man who once made an overpriced word processor in the 1980s, an unreliable range of computers in the 1990s, took Totenham Hotspur through nine, uninspiring years, to 2000, and had the business acumen to say, in 2005, that the iPod would be "dead, finished, gone, kaput" by Christmas (whereas his em@ilers are everywhere, of course). He's done pretty well, for a man with the predictive accuracy and foresight of Earl Haig, but he's not exactly the pinnacle of British industrial excellence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Spot On

        They should get Dickie Branson running the show, not Sugar... then it'd be worth applying for. As it is, the "losers" were really winners after all.

      2. Peter Kay

        Amstrad were actually pretty good in the eighties

        I can't speak about the audio and visual products, because I never touched them, but 80s Amstrad was pretty damn hot.

        The PCW was a competent all in one word processor that was not only easy to use but also featured CP/M with a particularly powerful BASIC and a whole host of third party products. Compare it to a PC with a legit copy of Wordperfect costing as much as an entire PCW, featuring less WYSIWYG and being less easy to use..

        The 8086 PC clones may have been quirky and overly sensitive to static, but for the part were actually pretty usable. The only real stinker was the PPC series with a particularly unforgiving LCD screen. The 2xxx PC series arrived in 1989 and while it didn't initially do well Amstrad was a victim of a poor version of DOS (4.01 from Microsoft) and dodgy hard disk controllers (Seagate). Seagate and Microsoft are and were hardly fly by night operations.

        The CPC home computer series were good at the time, and few can deny that Amstrad's revival of the Spectrum was an improvement. Perhaps the same could not be said about the QL, but nothing could save that.

        Then there were the oddballs like the NC100 which was a decent product provided you required precisely the niche functionality it provided.

        By the nineties there was too much competition and Amstrad was not nimble enough. The em@iler might have been a decent proposition - provided it came out five years earlier. Ditto the PcW16 and the GX4000..

  14. Anonymous Coward

    What the hell kind of stunt are Greggs trying to pull here?

    When she realised her business plan was going to fail to win the show, she said she had a backup plan for a chain of bakery shops... and now we find she ALREADY works for Greggs?

    There's something very murky going on here...

  15. Andy Fletcher
    Thumb Down

    Sugar said....

    ...her current employer would be mad not to give her a promotion and a pay rise. I think it's a bit lame of Greggs to take his advice. Or do they think Sugar knows more about their business than they do. Seem to recall Labour thought Sugar's advice on how to run the economy would be a good idea as well.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The more I think about it.

    The more Greggs seem to be the Amstrad of the pie world.

  17. Karl Lattimer

    Greggs in the south east?

    No, it's cheap imitation greggs in the south there be nee stotties in them shops.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      It was always clear that she worked for Greggs

      Maybe you just werent paying attention.

      Additionally in bigger roles than the "glorified PA" assumption thats doing the rounds. Im sure the TV downplayed it to make it look like she was a fighter from the trenches when in reality she was already Greggs middle management.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @Gordon 10

        An awful lot of us weren't paying attention then because nobody I know knew that she worked for Greggs until now and we've all watched every episode.

        You probably picked it up from the media at some point.

    2. LesC


      Greggs are the Amstrad of the sausage roll world for all of 57p you can have masses of artery - hardening goodness. Have one of these with a plate of poutine and you're set up for deat-, erm, life.

      You can get 'em even cheaper on the Greggs on their use by date bargain shop on Newcastle's West Road, cheap student and low income sustenance, yum.

      Their stotties are good though.... but you're not going to get these in East Grinstead.

      Nuke as eating this would have the same effect.

  18. Zog The Undeniable
    Thumb Up

    She could never have won

    RFor the sake of diversity, you can't have robotic Midlands PMBs* winning two series in a row. In her favour, Helen came across as being quite nice, although probably terribly boring. Melody was the bitch queen from hell, just like Arnold Rimmer's mum.

    *Project Manager Barbies

  19. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Fibbing on a CV?

    saying in a statement: "I am more suited to being an employee in the corporate world than an entrepreneur."

    Hmmm....She spends weeks trying to prove to the world she's a potentially successful entrepreneur and now that she's back to being an employee, that's what she wants the world to think she's best at.

  20. gaz 7
    Thumb Up


    Up in the North East here, Greggs is a premier league designer label!

    Well done! Helen did actually seem to be one of the most sensible and professional contestant's, although nicking your current company's idea and calling it a business plan is a bit on the cheeky side

    That said, now can you start putting bloody steak back in the steak bakes, or at least be honest and call them gravy bakes!

    Think I may have to have some of Helen's pie for lunch now...

  21. Martin 63

    I seem to have missed the world

    Im wondering how this matters to anything.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I was kinda hoping she'd end up doing the lads mags.

    1. Chimpofdoom!
      Thumb Up

      Time to the lower the tone...

      Aye, posing for the pictures anyway.. if her website is anything to go by.. she's a bit of a looker!

  23. Cool Hand Luke

    Hatred for BMW is way off the mark.

    Talk of BMW destroying the last British (volume) car manufacturer may be true if you had a fondness for bland, poorly built cars from Birmingham, but BMW have done a lot more for this economy with their MINI brand than they could have done with an ailing Rover brand.

    MINI have just announced a £500,000,000 investment into the UK economy. They are expanding their Oxford plant, and safe guarding UK jobs, while pumping millions into the coffers.

    Nissan are doing similar in Sunderland, although that's just a paltry £120,000,000.

    So, UK car manufacturing is far from dead, it's thriving.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Thriving as an outpost to foreign manufacturers, but no real domestic product, executive-level wages are not being taxed and spent within the UK.

      As for "MINI", well after seeing those huge Austrian-built SUV "MINI" Countrymen in the flesh, it is safe to say that BMW jumped the shark, and "ein grosser MINI" has well and truly spoilt the marque.

      The remarks "bland / poorly built" may have held true to BL in the 70s (along with a lot of European manufacturers back then!) but tieing up pre-BMW with Honda during the early 90s was Rover's heyday with the wonderful little 200 and 400 saloon which propelled the company into the sub-premium marque that VW nowadays occupies.

      Even the Rover 75 was a great product, overly-retro to suit the Bavarians (and to avoid stepping on toes), but seems to be aging better and less rusty than similar vintage E46s.

      1. Old Painless

        again, is this serious?

        You must be one of those delusional robots mate - BL cars under their many labels were complete shite which is why you never see them on the roads.I see plenty of old Bavarian motors though!!!

  24. Anonymous Coward

    So, it's not that the Germans don't have a sense of humour

    Just that they have never felt the need to express it through their car industry!

  25. Anonymous Coward

    What a promotion

    A relatively lowly personal assistant to to Head of Retail in one step!? Jeez, that's quite a promotion, and so instantly - methinks this was planned...

  26. Anonymous Coward

    see here

    in 2008 we made a similar number of cars in the year as we did in the 60s "hayday"

    The top two cars on top gear are British, ariel atom and McLaren MP4-12C

  27. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge


    ...I don't know about you lot but there's not ONE person on that show I'd want to work for or with. They are, to a person, vacuous, greedy, selfish, treacherous, vapid, narccisitic pieces of slime without a single good idea between them. There's no way I'd hire one of them to do more than mop a floor.

    And as for the man himself, Sugar, he's got to be the most throughly despicable and cynical human being I've ever had the misfortune to come across. He's clearly ignorant of modern employment methods, business standards and laws (Anyone remember when he revealed he didn't know what an SLA was in the last series?), nor has he ever produced a decent product (Anyone wanna buy an amstrad *anything*??) and as for firing people during the *interview process*.... dear god.

    They all deserve each other thoroughly, but they are terrible examples of humanity as a whole.

  28. Mips


    I hope you asked Terry Pratchett if you could say that.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cream Pie

    Helen should promote her Cream Pie throughout the UK. I'm sure it is delicious.

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