Last year’s winner of The Apprentice has backed a Sussex-based entrepreneur to win Lord Sugar's investment as the show starts tonight.

Marnie Swindells, who won the show in 2023, backed Bognor pie shop owner Phil Turner to go all the way in this year’s competition.

The winner of the BBC show said that Phil, who owns family business Turner’s Pies, stood out as a contender to win when the show begins this evening.

She said: “I've had a little research on some of them. I've noticed Phil Turner and his pies have a very substantial turnover on Companies House.

The Argus: Phil TurnerPhil Turner (Image: BBC/Noked)

“I'd be interested to see if Phil himself carries the same way, as his accounts.”

Speaking in an interview for VibePay, Marnie called the past year since winning the show “turbulent”.

Phil, 37, from Bognor, will be one of 18 contestants vying for Lord Alan Sugar’s investment in this year’s season of The Apprentice.

The BBC show kicks off this evening at 9pm.

He said: “I deserve Lord Sugar’s investment because I already have a track record of successfully building and scaling a business.

“You don’t grow a multi-million-pound business by being a pushover.

“I have learnt how to run a business the hard way and now I feel like it’s time to take my business to the next level.”

Turner’s Pies was first set up in 1933 and now has a number of stores in Bognor and Chichester.

The business also offers a “pies by post service”.

The company has won a number of awards for its pies including at the British Pie Awards last March.

Lord Sugar said: “I’m very pleased with this series because the quality of the candidates that we have attracted this year is superb,” Lord Sugar said.

“I’m looking for character, I’m looking for brain power and - this is the most important thing - do they get it?”

The Apprentice returns to screens on BBC One and BBC iPlayer tonight, Thursday, February 1.