A DIGITAL marketing project manager and former YouTube prankster from Haslingden is among this year's The Apprentice hopefuls.

Viewers will see Lewis Ellis and 15 other aspiring entrepreneurs whisked off to South Africa by Lord Sugar for the first challenge when the series returns to the BBC on Wednesday, October 2.

And Mr Ellis said, if he is successful, he plans to plough the £250,000 investment money into a premium travel brand for young professionals.

The 29-year-old said: “I’ve been looking to start my own business for a while and have helped small businesses in Lancashire with their online presence, and I think there could be a gap in the market for something like this.”

In 2016, the former Haslingden High School pupil launched his YouTube channel, LostBoyLewis, by taking a dip in the food court pool at the Trafford Centre.

But the budding entrepreneur says he does not do pranks anymore and focuses his channel mainly on business.

He said: “That was a time in my life where I had loads of energy and thought life was for living and was taking any opportunity I could. 

“But I’ve moved past that point now. I set myself a challenge to meet as many entrepreneurs as I could and interviewed them to see how they got where they were.

“And it was interesting as it made me come away with the idea that I would always try and pull the next person up, try and help them.”

Mr Ellis worked as a holiday rep for Thomas Cook, from the age of 18 to 21, and told of his sadness at their shock demise.

He said: “Thomas Cook took me from being an unconfident 18-year-old with no idea what I wanted to do and taught me how to deal with the world. 

“I worked as an 18 to 30s rep in places like Ayia Napa and did ski seasons in Bulgaria and Austria, and the main thing it did for me was bring me out of my shell.

“I’d been kicked out of three colleges, and they gave me a chance. I actually attribute a lot of my key skills to them, from public speaking to hardcore sales training, dealing with the weirdest issues, the list is literally endless.”

Mr Ellis believes he has as good a chance as anyone of winning The Apprentice.
He said: “I’m a bit of an enigma and different to most as I think being in business isn’t just about being serious all the time, you have to have fun too. You’ve got to work hard, but I’m going in there with my eyes open.

“I want to show people that you can be successful in many ways and should embrace your differences to make that happen.”

The hopeful entrepreneurs will also create a new electric bicycle to pitch to the market, and venture into the world of music management by marketing an unsigned artist.

Baroness Karren Brady and Claude Littner will return as Lord Sugar's advisers, who will monitor the candidates on their challenges.

Meanwhile spin-off show The Apprentice: You're Fired will see previous host Rhod Gilbert replaced by Tom Allen.

The Apprentice will begin on October 2 at 9pm on BBC One, followed by You're Fired on BBC Two.