White wins The Apprentice on IT security tip off

A Birmingham-based technology recruiter who was fired from his job placing IT contractors after trying to set up a rival agency on the side has jointly won BBC 1’s The Apprentice.

James White, 26, has been hired by Lord Sugar alongside sweets pioneer Sarah Lynn, who tried to edge out the ex-TEK Systems agent by implying he makes “naive comments”.   

Sat face-to-face with Lord Sugar before he had secured the tycoon’s £250,000 investment, an unfazed White described himself as “the best recruitment consultant out there” today.

He also claimed to have had the “highest contract business” -- presumably just at TEK Systems, which hired him in May 2013 but fired him in 2016 for “gross misconduct.”

The firm, which White tried to compete against, is yet to respond to a request for comment. But it’s not just wild claims and a chequered past that made White look un-hireable to some.

In last week’s episode 11, he admitted using the logo of recruitment body APSCo on his new staffing venture’s website, despite not being an APSCo member.

“We do come across a very small number of companies that do this each year. It’s disappointing”, APSCo’s chief executive Ann Swain said yesterday to ContractorUK.

“Although James mentioned during the episode that he couldn’t afford to join…his business Right Time Recruitment applied to join in October and is now in the process of becoming APSCo accredited.”

Swain added that end-users could always telephone APSCo to confirm whether recruiters are, in fact, genuine members of the body (The Association of Professional Staffing Companies).

But when it transpires that companies are using the association’s logo without permission, and decline an invitation to pay, they are contacted and asked to remove it “immediately”.

With his LinkedIn profile already stating ‘Apprentice winner,’ White will receive a quarter of a million pounds to help launch his proposed IT staffing business, First Tier Recruitment.

Lord Sugar will be a 50% partner in the business, despite criticism that its name is not IT-specific. Its use of the words ‘First Tier’ was also said to imply being just for entry-level jobs.

But the business is set to focus heavily on IT security, thanks to a deft suggestion White received in Sunday’s finale from 2012’s Apprentice winner Ricky Martin, another ex-recruiter.

Of his mini-mentoring of White, Martin has tweeted: “A key duty for any recruiter is to make sure they provide honest, clear & useful advice to the professionals they are supporting.”

Then in the boardroom, White suddenly pressed the importance of his business featuring an IT security unit, saying: “It’s the hottest skill demand at the moment within my industry.”

He also said: “Lord Sugar, the stat is 1.25million skill shortages by 2020 with cyber security. It’s a huge, huge market.”

Others in the staffing sector might be less willing than Martin to help White, who regards himself as “very charismatic.”

Told in Sunday’s finale that his proposed logo was not resonating with passers-by, he countered that it only had to stand out from existing IT contractor recruitment agencies -- the “very boring mundane competition,” he said.

Striking a different tone last night on Twitter, the IT recruiter said of winning The Apprentice: “I'd like to thank everyone who has supported me. This is a proud and humbling moment and I'm unable to fully express the excitement I feel to be business partners with @lord_sugar and joint winner of @bbcapprentice with @mrs_sarah_lynn_. The future looks bright.”

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