YOUNG apprentices entered the “Dragon’s Den” to test their entrepreneurial skills — receiving expert help from one of the stars of The Apprentice.

More than 100 Year Nine pupils from Ladybridge High School took part in an Enterprise Day, organised by Bolton College with Bolton Sixth Form, and the University of Bolton.

This is the second year the day has been staged.

Amy Rudd, the schools liaison officer at Bolton College, said: “Enterprise is a growing subject in the curriculum, and business and ICT are of growing significance for young people who are interested in them.

“We are aware training companies charge money to deliver this type of programme to school, and we have the expertise to offer it to schools.”

During the day the 150 youngsters moved across the three sites, taking part in different tasks to start up a successful business.

These included coming up with ideas, devising a business plan, creating a marketing tool and then pitching the business.

From the 18 teams, six were chosen to go forward into the Dragon’s Den.

Miss Rudd said: “The biggest difference I saw among the pupils was their confidence. When they are in a school uniform and with their teachers they feel they have to behave a certain way and can be quite introverted, and we did embed the values of respect in the programme, by the end of it they felt more empowered.

“They were chatting more, but about the programme and were still polite and respectful.”

She added: “Taking part in a programme like this develops other skills, which cannot be taught, such as interpersonal skills, communication, team work and presentation skills.”

Miss Rudd said: “The feedback we have had from the school has been fantastic — it said it would like every year group to take part.

“The school has already booked for next year, saying it was age appropriate and well organised and we want other schools to be involved.”

Business ventures — with a holiday theme — included everything from a virtual tour guide app, to solar powered mobiles and even an odd job business plan.

On hand to cast his expert eyes over the plans was Adam Corbally, who was voted as the most popular contestant on The Apprentice, who passed on his expertise and employability skills to the young people.

Adam was joined by fellow judges Martyn Shaw, director of Bolton Business School, University of Bolton, and Lynn Ashwell, deputy editor at The Bolton News.

Adam said: “I love working with young people, they are not scared of getting ideas out there, whereas adults are worried about looking silly. Young people still have that creativity and imagination.

“I say if people don’t laugh out loud at an idea then it is not worth pursuing. I now have an enterprise academy and it is slowly but surely becoming a reality.

“I want to be able to inspire and help Year Nine pupils to share their ideas — I would have loved something like this when I was at school.

“I was fired from The Apprentice for my pitch, it was the worst pitch but I had no training in it.

He added: “The teams have come up with some great ideas, like the virtual tour guide which people would use.”

Adam concluded: “If we had the same percentage of entrepreneurs as the USA it would solve unemployment in the UK.”

The day was a huge hit with young people, who took Adam’s advice onboard.

Thomas Pearson, aged 14, said: “I think an Enterprise Day is a good idea, it gives young people confidence and helps they develop lifeskills for the future.

"Adam gave us advice and said he would pay to have some of the jobs our business would do, so that helped us decide which business to go for. He is a person you can relate to.”

The winning team was Power Rangers with their business plan for a summer carnival, Perfect Profits came second with their odd job service and TMMT came third with a bootcamp for children.