The Apprentice EXCLUSIVE: Winner Carina Lepore takes a swipe at fame-hungry fellow candidates

Carina Lepore was crowned the winner of The Apprentice 2019 on Wednesday, beating rival Scarlett Allen-Horton to Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment.

The artisan bakery owner, 30, took home the title in the all-female final after wowing the boardroom with her presentation, advert and brand concept for Lepore’s Bakery.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Carina credited never losing focus with her win in the BBC reality show, while taking a swipe at some of her fellow contestants motivations’ behind taking part.

You're hired! Carina Lepore was crowned the winner of The Apprentice 2019 on Wednesday, beating rival Scarlett Allen-Horton to Lord Sugar's £250,000 investment

You’re hired! Carina Lepore was crowned the winner of The Apprentice 2019 on Wednesday, beating rival Scarlett Allen-Horton to Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment

Carina- who was jokingly dubbed ‘the baker who’s not a baker’ during her time on the show, said:’I was there for business, I wasn’t on there for a TV career…

‘My focus was always on winning the competition. I never pulled focus. I went in to win it and I don’t regret anything. I stand by all my decisions.

‘All of us have an unbreakable bond because we have been through this crazy experience together.’ 

Carina’s comments come after axed candidate Dean Ahmad laid into controversial contestant Lottie Lion, saying she was on the show for ‘other reasons.’

Sweet treat: The artisan bakery owner, 30, took home the title in the all-female final after wowing the boardroom with her presentation, advert and brand concept for Lepore's Bakery

Sweet treat: The artisan bakery owner, 30, took home the title in the all-female final after wowing the boardroom with her presentation, advert and brand concept for Lepore’s Bakery

Speaking to MailOnline last week, he branded the 19-year-old librarian a ‘bit of a nightmare’ and added: ‘I think the viewers can make their own judgement on her. 

‘You’ve got four out of five candidates with business acumen but I think it’s quite obvious that some people are on the show for other reasons potentially.’ 

Fellow teen candidate Ryan-Mark Parsons, 19, was also publicly accused on Twitter of ‘just going on the telly to be famous’ by 2014 winner Mark Wright.   

Although she wouldn’t be drawn on who  she believed was on the show to pursue a TV career, Carina said: ‘The only common ground I had with everyone was their desire to progress in the world of business. That was what we had in common.

‘As far as I’m concerned, Lottie was there to start her business, that’s all I want to say on the matter.’

Discussing the moment Lord Sugar said the magical words to her in the boardroom, Carina said: ‘It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s incredible, I’ve won The Apprentice. Like I saw his finger point at me and I had only ever seen it on TV, watching at home with my mum.

‘I can’t believe I won.

‘I knew Scarlett was going to be in the final with me. I also thought Pamela was a contender but I had faith in my business plan. Scarlett was a strong contender.

The final task saw Carina reunite with axed candidates Pamela, 29, Ryan-Mark, Jemelin Artigas, 28 and Thomas Skinner, 28 – with a stellar final advert depicting Ryan-Mark as a prisoner enjoying Lepore’s Bakery’s sourdough bread even raising a smile from Lord Sugar.

Although initially worried about how ‘scale-able’ Carina’s family-run bakery would be when it expanded, Lord Sugar took the chance on the ‘pocket-rocket baker’ and the new business venture after an impressive presentation.

Cheers: Although initially worried about how 'scale-able' Carina's family-run bakery would be when it expanded, Lord Sugar took the chance on the 'pocket-rocket baker' and the new business venture after an impressive presentation

Cheers: Although initially worried about how ‘scale-able’ Carina’s family-run bakery would be when it expanded, Lord Sugar took the chance on the ‘pocket-rocket baker’ and the new business venture after an impressive presentation

The final presentation started with a slight hiccup after Carina had to restart her presentation after she ‘blanked out.’

She said: ‘I had a moment when I wasn’t sure what I was about to say or where I was going. It’s such a huge audience and venue that I blanked out. But I started again and it went so well.

‘The final task was a highlight of the series for me. That and getting through the final interviews was amazing.

‘I don’t regret anything, I stick by every decision I made and it was very close in the final boardroom.’ 

The 15th series of the show has been rocked by scandal off-screen.

Lottie Lion was forced to deny accusations of racism, bullying and homophobia made against her after it was reported she told fellow contestant Lubna Farhan, 33, to ‘Shut up, Gandhi’ in a private WhatsApp group conversation, in an incident after filming on the show had ended. 

The BBC later described the comments Lottie had made as being ‘wholly unacceptable’.

Lottie later said she felt there has been ‘a huge lack of support’ from the BBC. She also claimed she was dropped from the after-show process after giving an interview to a national newspaper in which she criticised the BBC. 

Lewis Ellis, 28, also slammed the hit BBC show for not looking out for the welfare of its contestants. 

The Digital Marketing Project Manager claimed that living in the contestant’s mansion was ‘like a prison’ and even says his hair fell out due to stress.    

The Apprentice spokesperson hit back with: ‘ 'There are strict rules about contact with the outside world to avoid cheating and everyone has to be treated in the same way as it is a competition.

‘This is made clear to the candidates before they agree to take part. Additional contact with home is facilitated for candidates with children.’

Commenting on the drama in the house, Carina said: ‘We (Scarlett and I) stayed out of it. We never got involved in anything like that. We kept our focus on the competition the whole time.

Praising the team behind the scenes, she said: ‘I felt completely supported by the team and there was always support in place if we needed it. I don’t know what Lewis saw, I wasn’t followed to the toilets and didn’t see any producers sleeping outside our doors. It was a positive experience for me.’        

‘We had a curfew to make sure we got enough sleep. I liked the fact there was a curfew in place, it helped us keep focused for the next day’s competition. 

‘I would rather go to bed at 9pm or 10pm then be up all hours and not have the energy to do my best. It was a good thing.’

Carina is now determined 2020 will be her biggest year yet as she partners with Lord Sugar to expand her business -which will still operate under the Dough Artisan Bakery.

She aims to open two new stores in the next three years.

She said: ‘I am excited to work with Lord Sugar and grow my business, I cannot wait and I respect him so much as a businessman.’ 

Carina narrowly beat recruitment company owner Scarlett Allen-Horton, 32, to the crown. 

Scarlett’s business plan was a female only engineering focused executive search company named Stanton Lily.

Mother-of-two Scarlett moved a group of experts and investors when she discussed leaving school at 16, falling pregnant at 19 and building a successful career in recruitment for her family.

Welcoming her second daughter when she was 24, Scarlett suffered a blow when  the bump when her children’s father Clayton Stephenson was jailed over his role in a £1.6million drug smuggling plot in 2013.

Stephenson, of Ward End, Birmingham, was sentenced to six years and eight months for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, plus a further eight months to run consecutively for dangerous driving, reported the Birmingham Mail at the time. 

In 2016, Stephenson was given an additional eight years for helping to organise  a multi-million cocaine and heroin deal while in prison reports The Mirror.

Scarlett now raises her children as a single mother after leaving her partner, with family being her reason ‘for everything.’

She said: ‘I am so disappointed that I didn’t win, but Carina was a very worthy candidate and I couldn’t be happier for her.

‘It came down to whether Lord Sugar wanted to go for a different business in a field he was experienced in or something completely different such as Carina’s bakery.

‘I don’t think I could have done anymore, I gave my everything and it is a great business proposition.

‘I honestly couldn’t call it when we went into that final boardroom. It was close between us.’

‘Everything I do is for my family and my family’s future. I have picked myself up and got through difficult times to get to where I am today. It’s been the making of me.

‘Everyone knows about my early years and my partner going to prison, it was tough but I kept my focus and just got on with it. 

‘I took the whole experience day by day, I never had it in my head that I wanted to get to a certain week. I got on with it.’ 

Scarlett was joined in the final task by Lottie, Dean Ahmad, 20, Marianne Hawkins, 36, and Lewis – with her advert set to Eye of The Tiger and featuring her team driving an imaginary car raising eyebrows among industry experts.

A defiant Scarlett said: ‘The vision for the advert was excellent but the execution wasn’t. But it still got everyone talking and that’s what a good advert is about.’

Discussing her proudest and lowest moments in the competition, she said: ‘The most proud I felt was during the Oxford and Cambridge buying task. It was fun and we did well.

‘The lowest moment was the Tommy The Turtle task. I knew straight away it was the wrong age range and that it was about to go very wrong for us.’ 

Scarlett will now plough ahead with her recruitment agency and said it’s not the last we will hear from her in the world of business. 

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