Karren Brady praises first Apprentice winner Tim Campbell as he replaces Claude

Over the last five series of The Apprentice, we’ve got used to seeing Claude Littner and Dame Karren Brady flanking Lord Sugar as his eyes and ears during the process. But when an accident forced business hard man Claude to pull out of the new series – the first since 2019 thanks to the pandemic – Lord Sugar picked a perfect person to fill in.

And that’s none other than the show’s very first winner – from 2005 – Tim Campbell.

Dame Karren describes her new TV partner Tim as “wonderful” and praises the different approach and experience that he brings to the boardroom table…

“A completely new perspective,” reckons Karren, whose day job is running West Ham United.

“As Tim says, he’s been there, done that and got the T-shirt. He sees everything through the eyes of the contestants – he knows who’s hiding, he knows who’s putting themselves forward, he knows who can’t get their point across and how the dynamics work.”

It’s fair to say that while he was the first winner, scooping a job with Lord Sugar, which was the prize for the first few series, Tim isn’t one of the most memorable contestants from the business reality show.

The runner-up that year was Saira Khan, who went on to become a TV regular on Loose Women.

Other memorable competitors pipped at the post include feisty Ruth Badger from 2006 and glamorous Luisa Zissman from 2013.

And of course the most famous potential Apprentice has to be outspoken Katie Hopkins from series 3 in 2007, who carved out a career as a controversial media pundit after quitting the process following the interview stage which features in the penultimate episode of each series.

As 16 new apprentices take their place in the boardroom, new recruit Tim will be there to judge who will be the high flyers.

And while his input will be invaluable, it’s clear than Karren, 52, has missed the presence of close friend and fellow aide Claude Littner. He couldn’t take part in this series due to a serious cycling accident in April, which almost resulted in him losing a leg.

“We were desperately disappointed that he wasn’t there,” she says.

But while Lord Sugar, Claude and Karren remain close friends who holiday together, she knows nobody could be better placed to understand the challenges the wannabes face than Tim.

“He brings a real insight to that, so it was great having him there,” says Karren, who is married to former footballer Paul Peschisolido, and mum to Sophia, 25 and Paolo, 23.

“He’s such a wonderful man to work with. But, of course, we missed Claude!”

The Apprentice , Thursday, 9pm, BBC One

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