The Apprentice vs. Dragons’ Den: Which show backs the biggest winners?

The Apprentice 2019 is currently airing on our screens, and Lord Sugar has now announced that applications for 2020’s show have now opened.

But with Dragons’ Den as an alternative choice for budding entrepreneurs looking for serious investment, which show is the best choice with the highest success rates?

Business plan experts Teneric, have analysed data from 247 businesses that featured on both shows (The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den) in the last 13 years, to create a report revealing which show was most worth it for start-ups in the long run and which creates the most failures.

What is Lord Sugars’ success rate and how does it compare to the likes of Peter Jones and business moguls alike? Is The Apprentice really worth applying for?

Five Reasons why applying for The Apprentice is a better choice than Dragons Den

1. Lord Sugars investments in The Apprentice businesses found to have a 100% success rate

That’s right, The Apprentice has an astonishing 0% failure rate according to Companies House data. When comparing this to Dragons Den, you can see that failure rate is much higher and therefore a terrible deal for founders. Over a third (34%) of business owners are forced back into employment following business failures after the den according to the analysis, with Peter Jones being the worst dragon of all. Out of the 238 businesses analysed – 83 have failed and dissolved and 55 of those were under Peter Jones’ portfolio.

2. Lord Sugars apprentice businesses have a total net worth value of £8.3million  

Lord Sugar’s investments in nine businesses over the years have an estimated net worth of £8.3m – averaging over £920k each. Dragons’ Den may have made more money from their investments achieving an incredible £11.9m, however, this is a result of investing in a total of 238 businesses and therefore averages just £50k each. Whereas Lord Sugar has invested in just nine businesses overall.

Both Dragons and Lord Sugar have shelled out millions of pounds, with Dragons investing the most but seeing less return.

3. Lord Sugar has spent £2.25m of his own money so far in investing in apprentices – whereas Dragons have pulled out millions

So far, Lord Sugar has spent £2.25m investing in The Apprentice winner businesses. And although the Dragons have spent more (£11.3m in total), £7.31m of promised money was never received – as Dragons are known to drop out once the cameras stop rolling. That’s a huge amount of money never recieved by the budding entrepreneurs spending time going through the audition process to be let down last minute.

4. Not winning could result in success – 2011 Apprentice contestant who came 3rd has the highest net worth

Just like any other TV show, winning is not the be-all and end-all. Despite placing third on the show in 2011, Susan Ma, founder of Tropic Skincare, is the most successful contestant to ever come out of the boardroom.

Sugar revealed on You’re Hired shortly after the final that he would be investing in Susan despite not winning. The business has since gone on to have a net worth over £4.6m and tops the list of the most successful business based on net-worth from companies house.

Lord Sugars business investment success has enabled founders to go alone 

For most, the aim is to become an independent founder with as much ownership as possible. Giving away 50% of your business is a huge commitment but when Lord Sugar is a catalyst for success – this has allowed some founders to go alone, earning enough money to pay him out. Lord Sugar is no longer involved in Ridiculously Rich and Impra-Gas LTD after both Alana Spencer and Joseph Valente’s fast growth has enabled them to buy Sugar out for an undisclosed sum.