Greggs’ Helen Milligan was named runner-up in The Apprentice final on BBC1 last night (Sunday 17 July), and now looks set to take on a bigger role at the bakery retailer.
Milligan, who is the executive assistant to Greggs’ chief executive Ken McMeikan, triumphed in all bar one of the tasks, but was pipped to the post by entrepreneur Tom Pellereau, after her business idea – a mass-market concierge service – failed to excite Lord Sugar.
She even threw Lord Sugar a curve-ball, in the final minutes, by reverting to her second-choice business plan of a chain of bakery shops, but he could not be swayed.
“Helen has done fantastically well and we are all very proud of her,” commented McMeikan, following the programme last night. “To have made it to the final is a fantastic achievement.”
In response to comments from Lord Sugar that her boss would be “a bit of a mug not to actually promote her or give her some bigger position now they’ve seen what she’s capable of doing” – during the live programme, You’re Hired, which followed the final episode – Greggs finance director Richard Hutton told British Baker that Milligan will be taking on a bigger role within the business.
“We are yet to brief our own staff on this, but will be doing so shortly; we will then be in a position to tell people what she’ll be doing,” said Hutton. “She has a bright future ahead of her at Greggs. She’s certainly a real talent, and we’ll be putting that to good use.”
Milligan studied law at university, working part-time as a waitress and later managing a restaurant, before she landed the job at Greggs.
In her audition video for The Apprentice, she said she doesn’t think there is anything she has set out to do that she hasn’t achieved. “I get everything I want. I like making businesses money,” she said, adding that she views her career as a 24/7 role, and her “life”, not just a job.
Instead of winning a job with a six-figure salary at one of Lord Sugar’s businesses, as in previous year’s, this year the winner and their business idea will found the basis of a partnership with Lord Sugar, with an investment to the value of £250,000.