Interview Series: Lewis Ellis (Entrepreneur and former Apprentice candidate)

In the fourth instalment of our empowerment series, Man Behind The Mirror caught up with entrepreneur and former Apprentice candidate, Lewis Ellis.

With the lockdown still in effect, we spoke with Lewis via Zoom. He comes across exactly as you would expect having watched the Apprentice; likeable, energetic and upbeat, with an unwavering optimism that he will one day make it big.

We talked with Lewis in length about his experience on the Apprentice, as well as his new business venture, both of which we’ll come to shortly. However, at Man Behind The Mirror we’re interested in what makes successful people tick.

For some, they can’t quite pinpoint why, but Lewis certainly can. He reveals he gets his work ethic from his single mum, who worked all the hours God sent to look after him, his 3 siblings as well as his two cousins when he was younger.

Meanwhile, his drive for success has its origins when he worked as a ski instructor in his late teens and early 20s. On the slopes, Lewis taught lots of wealthy kids how to ski, many of whom had rich, self-made parents.

Lewis recounts that this experience opened his eyes to a world he didn’t know existed. It was his eureka moment, giving him a thirst to build something of his own, just as they had. He became fixated on becoming a successful businessman.

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If you’re mad about business, want to become an entrepreneur and have the self-confidence to be in front of the cameras, there’s really only one show on TV that gets the pulse racing – The Apprentice.

Lewis was a contestant on the show in late 2019, which represented its 15th season.

Interestingly, when Lewis was first being interviewed as a candidate, he thought about creating a marketing business. When he was specifically asked what he would do with the £250k investment on offer, it got him thinking that a travel business would be the way to go.

The producers then gave him two weeks to put together a business plan that would pass the sniff test. Lewis had a full-time job at the time, so had to work on the plan late in the evening and early in the morning. However, two weeks later, the plan was ready, passed the test, and Lewis got his place on the series.

During the 3-month programme, Lewis, at 6ft 2inches, sporting a distinctive quiff and with the gift of the gab, became known as the smooth talking and charming one. Indeed, he found himself in the boardroom on several occasions but was saved by Lord Sugar, who developed a fondness for him.

The end of the road eventually came at the semi-final stage with the dreaded five interviews. Lewis’s business plan came under scrutiny, as well as his geographical awareness – the moment of the episode was when Lewis was asked to point out Croatia on the world map.

Ultimately, during the wrap-up in the boardroom, Lord Sugar thought the business was too risky, and opted for the safer bet, partnering up with Carina Lepore who sought funding to establish a chain of bakeries.

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Despite narrowly missing out on victory, Lewis couldn’t have been happier with the way things ended. He now had a nationwide profile, and ploughed ahead at morph speed with his travel business idea.

With Lord Sugar ruling himself out, Lewis’s first major decision was to get a co-pilot. He only had one person in mind, an old friend called Luke, who he knew from his tour guide days. Luke accepted and joined the team. Hiddn Travel was born.

Lewis relays that Hiddn Travel is a disrupter, aiming to shake-up the antiquated tour operator model.

In today’s world of social media, the traditional cattle-herding just won’t cut it. The coach pick-up at the airport, 1-week stay at an average 4* hotel, and the same evening buffet meal is fast losing its appeal.

Today, millennials and Gen-Z want unforgettable moments, experiences that will stay with them forever. This is where Hiddn Travel steps in, providing holidays to far-flung destinations that will get the pulses racing.

We’re talking about holidays that are Instagram friendly and wouldn’t be out of place on the feeds of mega-influencers; pink-watered infinity pools, long-legged flamingos beside the pool bar, parading giraffes wondering past the breakfast table.

Lewis and Luke worked frantically to get the business ready for launch, and then the unforeseen Covid-19 pandemic struck. The lockdown has caused a suspension of the global travel and leisure industry, meaning that Lewis and Luke had no option but to delay the launch.

Lewis is his natural sanguine self when discussing the delay. The lockdown has provided the downtime to plan further, and on a positive note, is likely to have taken some competitors out of the market.

The delay has made Lewis more eager than ever to get the ball rolling and make Hiddn Travel a success. Indeed, he reveals that the official launch of the business and the inaugural trip have already been scheduled for early next year.

You can keep up to speed with both Lewis and the progress at Hiddn Travel at;

Lewis Ellis Instagram

Hiddn Travel Instagram

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