Courtney Wood made it to the final of hit BBC1 show the Apprentice last year with his novelty gift business idea only to lose out at the final hurdle.

But he has no regrets. Business is booming for his company, Bubblegum Stuff and his gifts are now being stocked all over the country in nationwide shops such as Urban Outfitters and Paper Chase.

Courtney, from Stanford-le-Hope, said: “I’m still running the novelty gift company, it’s going really well. Our products have been placed in some really cool places.

“It’s definitely an upturn from the show, but I also think the general public got to know about the business and that helped with the interest.”

Courtney is writing a weekly column for the Radio Times reviewing every episode of this year’s series.

He added: “I watched it in preview and I also watched it on Wednesday night. I’m not going to lie, I would have loved to have done the burger challenge. They might have had a better chance of winning if I was involved! I was shocked because the boys usually win the first task, the past few years that’s been the case but they were truly awful.”

Courtney described the boardroom as a “terrifying place” but believes Lord Sugar does have a “softer side”. He added: “He’s strictly business. I think he’s a great guy, he’s very direct and straight to the point.”

Courtney holds the record for most project wins, having won eight of the ten tasks during his series. Speaking about his future plans for the business, he said: “We are just rebuilding the website, I’m also working to develop a novelty ice-cream and we’re hoping to set up a pop up shop somewhere in London before Christmas, so watch this space.”