Marnie Swindells scoops Apprentice prize in wake of controversy over Covid loan



Marnie Swindells was last night unveiled as the winner of The Apprentice, hooking £250,000 from Lord Alan Sugar for her boxing gym business.

Her win comes in the wake of the Mirror revealing the controversy surrounding a £50,000 loan her firm received to help it through lockdown.

Following her victory, Marnie, 28, a lawyer turned boxing medal winner, said she was thrilled to be a woman making it in a typically male-dominated industry.

“What I’m doing goes to show that you can be successful in any industry if you put the work in,” she said.

“The women were definitely the most successful candidates on this series.

“Women can do it all. We are on a mission to prove what women are capable of. Women are getting to see me taking charge, storming in and not taking any notice of the barriers.”

Marnie plans to spend the new investment on opening gyms
Marnie plans to spend the new investment on opening gyms Lord Sugar chose to h ( PA)

Marnie said the feedback she has had while the series aired on BBC1 has been positive. “I have had so many messages from women. I’ve had a lot of women tell me they want to take up boxing.”

Marnie, whose boyfriend Michael Harris is a director of her company Bronx Boxing Limited, plans to spend the new investment on opening gyms.

Lord Sugar chose to hire her over Rochelle Anthony, 35, the self-styled “ Kim Kardashian of the business world”, in last night’s finale.

Trusted aide Tim Campbell told him: “For an ambassador for a boxing facility, there is no one better than Marnie and what she stands for.”

But before she was hired, Lord Sugar told her: “Marnie, it is such a crowded, competitive market. I’m thinking, ‘is it £250,000 down the drain?’

“It’s a tough one, you’re asking me to invest in something which is completely alien to me, and you’ve never run a ­business before. But I’ve always been known to be a gambler, I’ve always been known to try new horizons.” Ahead of her win, there was a ­potential question raised over whether her firm was eligible to receive a loan from a scheme set up by the ­Government to help businesses survive the pandemic.

The Bounce Back Loan scheme let firms get a loan of 25% of their turnover up to £50,000. Bronx Boxing Ltd was incorporated in July 2019 but only opened for business last month at ­premises in Camberwell, South London.

It received the loan in July 2020, but had zero turnover that financial year, and zero turnover the next year.

Marnie has denied any wrongdoing, with a show spokesman insisting: “All the criteria required were met, the loan was completed correctly and is being paid back in full.”

In this financial year to the end of February, 407 directors have been banned for abusing the loan scheme.

It was so badly ­implemented it could end up costing taxpayers £27billion in fraud or credit losses, according to MPs.

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