T he Apprentice has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. It is a series like no other. The BBC never fails to deliver us with an hour of chaos, defined by the iconic characters it enlists to fight it out for Lord Sugar’s investment each week. Series 17 was no different. From safari guides to courtroom advocates, this year’s cohort delivered us 12 episodes of nail-biting drama. However, one of 2023’s most memorable characters was arguably sent packing far too soon.
This is why I was so eager to sit down with Gregory Ebbs and hear more about how a cannon-firing history buff found his way onto one of the BBC’s most iconic reality TV shows.
It is fair to say that Gregory had quite a unique path to the boardroom. Gregory partook in a variety of unusual hobbies at Aberystwyth University – such as sword-fighting – alongside a rather eventful social life before graduating in 2017. However, the self-proclaimed “bad student” soon found himself fighting to “get a job in a competitive market” like many other young people. Yet rather than wallow in self-pity, Gregory embarked on a one-way flight to Malta to become a professional cannon firer.
When pandemic struck in 2020, Gregory returned home and taught himself to code in order to begin developing his own business: Raven Yard Antiques. An online marketplace where antiques dealers can list goods of any value for the small fee of £1 per item.
Gregory recounts being told that it was “going to be the weirdest process”
Two years down the line, when he sent off his application for The Apprentice, Gregory recounts being told that it was “going to be the weirdest process” that he would ever embark on. He reflects now that he couldn’t agree more.
Gregory credits his success in the selection process to his “different approach” to reality television. Beyond luck, Gregory also believes he stood out due to his commitment to remaining “friendly, fun and positive” throughout. As a fan of the show, he cringed over those contestants who wanted to prove they were the “best or the brightest” in the room. In contrast, Gregory remains steadfast in his belief that authenticity was the most powerful attribute he bought to the table and that being himself was the best way he could secure that seat in the boardroom. He may have been disappointed that he missed out on Lord Sugar’s investment, but Gregory remains unwavering in his belief that he “wouldn’t change the approach” he took in the competition and if he had learnt anything, it was that he “should have had more faith” in his own capabilities.
From the contestants living next door to Gal Gadot, to the unwavering iciness of Lord Sugar both on and off screen, the stories Gregory has to share seem unbelievably surreal. However, between the extravagant trips and 3am wake-up calls, Gregory recalls how his experience was also uniquely shaped by those who entered the competition alongside him. Gregory speaks particularly fondly of the friendships he built with Joey, Avi and Sohail and how quickly they gelled as a group of four during the tour task in week one. Continuing to claim that had he been in Lord Sugar’s position, he would have taken on any of his initial teammates as his business partner because they were all “open-minded” and supportive, rather than being there to “stand on each other’s heads”.
Despite his time on our television screens being cut so short, Gregory seems in high spirits about what is next for him. Beyond continuing to grow his online business, he has also begun some “very optimistic” conversations about potential opportunities to return to our screens as the presenter of a history or antiques programme. I, for one, look forward to seeing where Gregory’s next venture will take him.
Gregory is defined by his authenticity. His individuality. His unapologetic sense of self
Amidst the glitz and glamour of reality television, it is so easy for individuals to blur into typecasts: photocopies of previous contestants. In comparison, Gregory is defined by his authenticity. His individuality. His unapologetic sense of self. As a young person with big ideas, “most people you talk to will question your capability” but if his time on the show has taught him anything, it is that you must stay “stoic and firm” and continue fighting to make your own vision a reality.
I am certainly no business expert but having spoken to Gregory, I fail to see why he left the boardroom so soon. Had Lord Sugar mistaken his quiet, logical humility for passivity? His introspection for avoidance? Either way, our conversation proved to me that reality television could still have a place in our society as a platform whereby genuine, talented individuals may get the big break they deserve.