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04th Jan 2022

Irish rugby star joins panel of candidates for The Apprentice with Alan Sugar

Patrick McCarry


The 28-year-old has made strides in the business world since being forced to retire in 2020.

The line-up for the new season of The Apprentice, on the BBC, has been unveiled, and it includes a former Irish rugby star.

Conor Gilsenan played with Ireland U20s in 2012 and 2013, was in with the Leinster academy and moved to Connacht in 2014 in an effort to get game-time at senior level. The flanker moved to London Irish in 2014 and played more than 70 times for the Premiership club until bad injuries forced him to retire in September 2020.

With ‘a heavy heart’, Gilsenan hung up his playing boots ‘due to medical reasons’ and bid farewell to the Exiles, and their supporters. He commented:

“I have played with some incredible players, built relationships with extraordinary people and represented a special club with great supporters. Thanks to everyone who played a part in my time at Irish, fond memories I will take with me for a lifetime. The future is bright for the club with the move back to London on the horizon and I look forward to supporting the boys in Brentford.”

The Mullingar native is now focused on his next challenge – trying to impress Lord Alan Sugar, the former Amstrad maestro and Tottenham Hotspur chairman, and winning The Apprentice.

Conor Gilsenan in a Leinster Rugby Squad Portraits for the 2013/14 season. (Credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE)

Conor Gilsenan, the corporate panther

The description of Gilsenan on the BBC website has him as a hard working “corporate panther” who is “hyper-motivated by money”. His business idea consists of a fleet of quirky food and beverage vendors targeted at music and sports events.

“I’m going to be the corporate panther in the boardroom. I’m going to get it done, and I’m going to be Lord Sugar’s perfect business partner.”

Gilsenan is one of 16 hopefuls looking to impress Lord Sugar and his board. Other participants include an online pyjama store owner, a cocktail bar owner, a pharmacist and a flight operations instructor.

The first episode of what will be series 16 of the popular show airs this Thursday evening on the BBC.