For these lucky 17 contestants, the dream became a reality, but did working with the business guru turn out to be everything they hoped for?
The Apprentice returns for 2024 on Thursday 1 February at 9pm on BBC and BBC iPlayer with 18 hopeful new candidates vying to become Lord Sugar's next business partner, while Claude Littner rejoins Karren Brady as his aides.
As we gear up for more boardroom battles, here are all the winners of The Apprentice so far and what they did next.
Series 1 - Tim Campbell (2005)
Back in the days when candidates were mostly serious business people, Tim Campbell became the first ever contestant hired by Lord Sugar.
He bagged a £100,000-a-year job at Amstrad, where he stayed working with Sugar for two years before going on to a number of other roles including a perfume business, a property investment consultancy and a digital marketing agency, and was awarded an MBE for his services to social enterprise.
Viewers of the 2022 series have been getting reacquainted with Campbell as he has taken over as aide from Claude Littner, who is recovering from a cycling accident.
Saira Khan was the runner-up in series one who went on to forge a media career as a regular Loose Women panellist and a Dancing On Ice contestant.
Series 2 - Michelle Dewberry (2006)
Michelle Dewberry is still in and out of celebrity headlines years after winning series two, although just as memorable to fans of the show was runner-up Ruth Badger.
After working with Lord Sugar, Dewberry set up a business consultancy, wrote her autobiography, has stood as a pro-Brexit candidate for Hull West and Hessle, and presents a weeknight show for GB News.
She was famously in a relationship with fellow Apprentice contestant Syed Ahmed after leaving the show, but in 2020 welcomed a son with former Crystal Palace FC owner Simon Jordan.
Dewberry has spoken openly about her mental health struggles and is an ambassador for Women's Aid.
Series 3 - Simon Ambrose (2007)
Third winner Simon Ambrose was handed a job at Lord Sugar's property division Amsprop, where he worked on a hotel and golf course near Stansted Airport.
More recently, Ambrose has branched out on his own in running several London bars and restaurants and is chairman of the London Contemporary Orchestra.
Series 4 - Lee McQueen (2008)
Never afraid to look the fool during a task, Lee McQueen's enthusiasm paid off as he rarely lost a task and paved the way for many a cringeworthy candidate to come.
He was known during his time on the show for his "That's what I'm talking about!" catchphrase, his reverse pterodactyl impression which went down particularly badly in the interview round, and lying on his CV about how long he had been at university for.
McQueen has since given many an interview on his achievements despite a lack of formal qualifications and spent a productive couple of years with Lord Sugar at Amscreen before striking out on his own and setting up Raw Talent Academy.
Series 5 - Yasmina Siadatan (2009)
Restaurant owner Yasmina Siadatan was the fifth person to win a £100,000-a-year job with Lord Sugar, joining Lee McQueen at Amscreen.
She left not long afterwards as she gave birth to her first child, but was later headhunted by Dragon's Den star James Caan and has also ventured into politics as a Conservative candidate for Henley.
Series 6 - Stella English (2010)
If there's one former winner's name who is now mentioned in hushed tones in the boardrooms and corridors of Amstrad, it's Stella English.
She spent a year in the coveted job with Lord Sugar, but then tried to bring a constructive dismissal case against him which was dismissed in court.
English had complained about a lack of opportunities to progress in the role, claiming she was a "glorified PA" and "overpaid lackey", but Lord Sugar tried to counter-sue her for his legal costs - a move which was also dismissed.
He accused English of trying to get an out-of-court settlement and said: "I’m afraid she underestimated me and her reputation is now in tatters."
At one point during proceedings she said she was having to look at applying for benefits to cover her mortgages on three properties and said "I'm now an unemployed single mother, it's a living nightmare".
In 2017, she welcomed a child with snooker player Ali Carter, although the pair have since split.
Series 7 - Tom Pellereau (2011)
By series 7, Lord Sugar had decided to change things up a bit by looking for a business partner rather than an employee.
The first person to win the new prize was Tom Pellereau, an inventor who was a little different from the usual Apprentice candidate.
With Sugar's backing, he launched beauty products company Stylideas which included the Tangle Teezer brush, the world's first curved nail file, and make-up sponge and brush cleaners.
Series 8 - Ricky Martin (2012)
No, not that Ricky Martin... Lord Sugar's next business partner was a former professional wrestler who managed to defeat the competition with his idea for a recruitment consultancy.
The science and tech recruitment firm has gone from strength to strength, proving a wise investment for the business mogul.
Series 9 - Leah Totton (2013)
Series 9 was known as the glam season of the show, and it certainly reflected that in its winner as doctor Leah Totton launched her skincare clinic franchise.
Her runner-up Luisa Zissman became known as a reality TV star, while Totton's Dr Leah Clinic business, which combines her medical expertise with beauty treatments, has expanded in the south of England.
Series 10 - Mark Wright (2014)
Again, not that Mark Wright... This digital marketing sales manager was hired by Lord Sugar to develop his SEO business Climb Online.
When the Australian won the contest, he said: "I’ve worked so hard and to be sat here is life changing and the best thing to ever happen to me."
Series 11 - Joseph Valente (2015)
Joseph Valente found that winning The Apprentice didn't necessarily mean his business was made for life - but he showed true champion spirit by bouncing back.
The series 11 winner set up the UK's largest boiler installation firm, but although he was eventually forced to sell, he has since gone on to set up the successful Trade Mastermind which promotes small businesses and tradespeople.
Series 12 - Alana Spencer (2016)
Welsh baker Alana Spencer bagged Lord Sugar's £250,000 investment for her luxury chocolate and cupcake business Ridiculously Rich by Alana.
Unfortunately, she suffered a blow last summer when her Cardiff cake shop got a one-star hygiene rating and in 2017 had to recall home delivery products that didn't correctly list allergens, but has vowed to get things back up to scratch.
Series 13 - Sarah Lynn and James White (2017)
For the first and only time in the show's history, both finalists were crowned winners in 2017.
Lord Sugar found it impossible to choose between two candidates with business plans similar to some we'd seen before - James White's recruitment agency, and Sarah Lynn's online personalised sweets delivery company Sweets in the City.
Series 14 - Sian Gabbidon (2018)
Lord Sugar went in a completely unexpected direction for his series 14 business partner, opting to invest in Sian Gabbidon's swimwear company.
Gabbidon had huge success being stocked at ASOS, but truly showed her champion credentials by pivoting into loungewear during the pandemic and raking in the sales through George @ Asda as well as globally.
Series 15 - Carina Lepore (2019)
Another baker emerged triumphant - Carina Lepore, whose South London bakery had its roots in her family and after investment she was able to open another branch locally.
Lepore is the most successful candidate in the show's history, with nine out of 10 task wins and three as project manager.
Series 16 - Harpreet Kaur (2022)
The Apprentice took a break during the Covid pandemic, so there was a long wait for fans to see another boardroom full of candidates vying for a position as Lord Sugar's business partner.
Dessert business entrepreneur Harpreet Kaur won the £250,000 investment in Oh So Yum, which covers dessert parlours and online ordering for cakes and sweet treats.
She was part of the first-ever all-female final four and impressed both the aides and the other candidates with her strong performance throughout the series.
Series 17 - Marnie Swindells (2023)
2023's edition of The Apprentice saw another batch of hopefuls enter Lord Sugar's boardroom, each vying for his support and £250K investment.
After 12 gruelling weeks, it was 28-year-old boxing gym owner Marnie Swindells who came out on top, beating beauty salon and hair academy owner Rochelle Anthony in a tense series finale.
Lord Sugar's mentorship will ultimately help her launch her brand Bronx, a venue that she describes as a "middle-market option between the high-end boutique gyms and the low-end spit and sawdust gyms."
The Apprentice returns on Thursday 1 February at 9pm on BBC and BBC iPlayer.