Entrepreneur and former Apprentice contestant Alex Epstein says the BBC series has become more of an entertainment show which recruits ‘characters’ rather than people with solid business plans.

Epstein featured in series six of The Apprentice in 2010 before being fired by Lord Sugar after six weeks.

He went on to set up hair care brand Concoction, which he has since exited after selling the company to an established cosmetics business in the US.

Epstein is now chief marketing officer at Leeds tech firm BigChange Apps, which enables businesses to manage their time smartly through an all-in-one mobile workforce management platform.

The cloud-based management system allows clients to plan, manage, schedule and track their mobile workforce.

“There’s still tens of thousands of SMEs who run their businesses on paper, particularly in the service sector,” Epstein said.

“With our app it takes the business entirely paperless.

“What people like about the system is that it replaces lots of separate pieces of archaic kit, so compared to running a legacy system there’s huge savings to be had.”

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BigChange has 550 customers of all sizes and 15,000 subscribers and is one of the fastest-growing tech businesses in the North, with a projected turnover of £7m this year.

Speaking to BusinessCloud, Epstein said appearing on The Apprentice closed as many doors as it opened but insisted he has no regrets.

“I think some people in business are a bit frightened about the fact that you’ve been on something big and famous like The Apprentice, but for me it was great because it was the catalyst behind me launching Concoction,” he said.

“So in some ways it opened up a tremendous amount of opportunity and it exposed me to experiences that I would never have had.

“For about two or three years after, wherever I went people knew my name. It was always very strange when I took a flight and people would walk down the aisle and point at me and say you’re fired.

“It turned my life upside down for quite a long time.”

When asked why The Apprentice doesn’t feature more tech companies and entrepreneurs, Epstein says the programme has become more of an entertainment show than a business show.

“For that reason they tend to recruit characters rather than people who have got real, solid business plans. That’s just my opinion.”

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