Apprentice winner's venture with Alan Sugar goes bust after racking up £2m debt

13 July 2020, 15:38

Joseph won the show in 2015
Joseph won the show in 2015. Picture: BBC/PA/Instagram @mrjosephvalente

Joseph Valente won the show five years ago and referred to himself as the 'godfather of business'.

The Apprentice 2015's winner Joseph Valente's company that he set up with Alan Sugar's help, ImpraGas, has gone under, owing around £2,000,000 in debt.

Joseph, 31, has come under fire by a number of companies that he owes funds to, with one creditor even claiming the business owner commissioned work even though he reckons Valente knew the company was struggling financially.

Valente pictured on the show
Valente pictured on the show. Picture: BBC

Nathan Oselton, of One Word Graphics, owed £2,500, has revealed: “I feel pretty angry and mad about the way the company has behaved.

"It has always been a bit of a struggle getting paid.

“My accountant has looked at the paperwork from the liquidators and it does not look like he was making money for quite a while.”

Another company owner who is owed tens of thousands of pounds, added: “I don’t think you could print what I actually want to say about him.”

Valente won BBC’s The Apprentice in 2015 and got a whopping quarter of a million pound investment from Lord Alan Sugar to set up his company, ImpraGas.

At the time, Valente stated: “I’m the definition of success I’m the godfather of business and I’m here to make Lord Sugar a lot of money.”

Two years into the business in 2017, Sugar and Valente parted ways, with the latter taking control of the company.

However, things slowly went downhill for the wannabe businessman, with the firm going into creditors' voluntary liquidation just before lockdown set in in March 2020.

Joseph blamed Brexit and last year's warm winter for the decline in business, but racked up £1.95million in debt along the way, owing a whopping 34 different businesses huge chunks of money.

The largest creditor is Woodhouse Sturnham, owed just shy of £819,000, followed by plumbing company Wolsley, which is owed £280,000.

As well as this, ImpraGas owes HMRC more than £400,000 for VAT and PAYE debts, as well as owing Google for advertising costs.

Valente, from Peterborough, stated: “We had to shut down part of the organisation and it meant that some creditors were not paid.

“Our main priority was that staff kept their jobs and our customers were looked after.

"The intellectual property of the company was sold to another company and the old company was put into liquidation.

"The majority of creditors continue to trade with the new company.

“At every moment we were trading to keep the company alive"

The Apprentice star continued: "Impra Gas was sold and no longer owes any creditors.

"The debt was transferred to VBH Ltd, a shell company of which I am majority shareholder but I do not personally owe any money."

Joseph has since set up a new business which he calls "The Number One Training Provider For Construction Businesses
Grow Your Trade Business".