Digital Spy caught up with Zara and James ahead of the reveal of the results for an exclusive Q&A with the two candidates.
Young Apprentice: The Final airs tonight at 9pm on BBC One
People were quite surprised to see you in the final, James. Did it come as a shock to you?
"I think people are surprised because at the semi-finals people are looking at the two products and thinking Empire State was better. But I think that was quite naive. If you looked into La Popcorn, there was a lot more thought that had gone into that product than many people realised. We wanted the supermarket to put in a big order and that was what we were aiming for. I was looking around that boardroom at the end and I was quite optimistic that the supermarket would put in a big order and I was proved right.
"However, if someone has spoken to me after that first boardroom with Mahamed and said that I would be in the final, I would have grabbed it and ran. But all along I knew that I had something the other candidates didn't have and I think that's why I got to the final."
How did you find working with all the old candidates in the final?
"At the start I was a little bit worried about everyone coming back. But having people on your team is better than working as one person. I think one of my biggest strengths in the show has been working with other people and I'm one of the few candidates who could successfully project manage people. It was also great just to see all the candidates again. Every one of them is fantastic in their own way and I have to say they all pulled through and I know a lot of them are rooting for me right now."
Tell us about your relationship with Harry Maxwell on the show...
"Harry M and me... we're completely the opposite, but we also had many similarities. We both have something the other candidates didn't have. We're both very entrepreneurial. On every task, there was an idea Harry M put forward and an idea that I put forward. We both thought that we were always right so it was a fun relationship and when we were together. There were obviously personality clashes, but it was just because we had so many ideas and both wanted to forced them through.
"Harry M was definitely one of the most interesting characters that I met on Young Apprentice. And I don't have a bad word to say about him. He has good ideas and I think he was a really strong candidate. Lord Sugar said that he was unlucky to lose every task. I have to say, I do agree with that in some respects. There was more to Harry M than what we saw and I think he was a great candidate."
Did you find Lord Sugar intimidating?
"Going into the boardroom after the first task is nobody's plan. It got even worse for me as Lord Sugar warned me that he was watching me closely. I'm not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I got his attention, but it clearly wasn't for all the right reasons. But Lord Sugar is a real inspiration for all the candidates and I totally admire him. Throughout the process he was offering advice and telling us how business worked and where we were going wrong. I think we all benefited from that.
"He wasn't the biggest fan of my ideas, but at least I had the ideas. I think what made me different from everyone else in the process was my ideas."
Looking back at Captain Vanilla in task one, would you do that again given the chance to change it?
"If I had to do it again, I'm not sure I'd be so forceful. I still think that dressing up and creating a bit of buzz was a great idea. I think I was a little hard done by on that task because Captain Vanilla did sell a lot of ice cream. People didn't like Captain Vanilla. People didn't like La Popcorn. But both of them trended on Twitter, so there must have been something about them. They were memorable, they were original and they were good fun."
Why did you want to do this show rather than waiting a few years for the adult version?
"I'm an opportunity kind of guy. If an opportunity comes up, I'm a risk taker, so I'll grab it. I thought going on this show was definitely a risk, but it was one I wanted to take. All the way through the show, I don't think I would have got all this way through the auditions and competition without that mentality. It's been one of the best experiences that I've ever had."
What are your rival Zara's strengths and weaknesses?
"Zara is a very worthy finalist and she's an incredible speaker. And she's incredible at pitching as well. However, she does have weaknesses as well. Throughout the process she never put forward any ideas. She might have developed a product, but she never created one. For me, business is all about idea. The biggest difference between Zara and myself is ideas. And I think that's what separates a great entrepreneur from a great employee."
How have you found watching yourself back on the show, Zara?
"It's been an incredibly interesting experience watching myself back on the telly and seeing how I've come across. I'm pleased with how I've come across and I think a lot of the other candidates came across brilliantly as well. It's been quite the surreal experience and it's one that I probably won't get again, but it's been amazing while it lasted."
Did you get on OK with the old candidates in the final task?
"I did get on with everyone in the final. It was great to work with some of the candidates that I didn't really spend any time with on the show, because they left before I was ever on a team with them. I also realised some talents in many of them that I didn't know they had. Working with everyone in the final was an absolute pleasure."
Were you surprised by how confident you came across on the show?
"I think it was strange watching myself back. I did come across as very confident and I am that sort of person. I'm just glad that I didn't come across as cautious because that's not the impression I think anyone in business should put across. I'm pleased that people thought I came across as confident in my ability."
How scary was it being in that boardroom with Lord Sugar?
"I didn't often feel intimidated being in that room with the three big talents of Lord Sugar, Nick and Karren, but all three definitely have a major presence and they can be intimidating when they need to be. The boardroom is the opportunity to put across your points succinctly and well. So I wasn't intimidated, but I had to make sure I was focused 100%."
What are you rival James's strengths and weaknesses?
"I feel very privileged to have a candidate like James in the final with me. He has an awful load of strengths. He has a great academic record, he has great leadership skills and he's shown a lot of talent throughout the process. As far as weaknesses go, he has no more than me. We both had good points and bad points. Overall, I'm really pleased to have worked against such a talented person in the final."
How difficult did you find working with big personalities like Harry M and Lewis?
"Actually the range of personalities wasn't a hindrance, it was what made this show exciting to be involved with. If everyone had been the same, it would have been a pretty standard experience. People like Lewis and Harry M, it made for an interesting working environment. Different people's strengths were other people's weaknesses and our differences often complimented each other. The range of characters made it a great show to be involved in."
We saw your passion for film in the show. Will you be keeping that up?
"I am incredibly interested in film. It started as just a hobby, but now it's part of my entrepreneurial pursuits. It's definitely something I'm looking forward into and something I'm keen to keep up. I've also got lots of other passions, I'm interested in journalism. But yes, filming is definitely something that I want to look into career-wise in the future."
What was your personal highlight from the series?
"The biggest thing that I've taken away from this show is the experience. I can't pick one highlight because it's all been so wonderful. I've worked in so many business areas and I've taken on information on all of those. For me, the highlight has been the breadth of knowledge I've learnt from the process."
Do you think it's tougher for girls to break into the world of business still?
"I definitely think it's a fair thing to say that young girls may thinks a business pursuit may not be an option to them because of stereotypes like men in suits dominating the office. That's one of the main reasons I wanted to do this show and try to do it well was to put out a good name for women in business.
"There's no reason why a woman can't do just as well as a man in this environment. But it is tough getting started. It's tricky enough being young in the world of business, but being a girl and trying to get your voice heard in a male-dominated environment is very challenging. There's no reason women shouldn't be in this industry as much as men."