Nick Holzherr

Lord Sugar turned him down as a commercial partner, but Nick Holzherr continued with his business idea undeterred and is set to launch early next year. We catch up with the young entrepreneur who’s based his company, Whisk, in Birmingham’s city centre

For 12 weeks, Nick Holzherr graced our television screens as one of the more successful candidates on BBC show The Apprentice. Holzherr made it through to the final before having his idea, Whisk, an online recipe and shopping business, rejected by Lord Sugar. Nonetheless, the young entrepreneur continues to believe in his business plan and has managed to attract investment from venture capitalists and wealthy private backers. The new company is based in Birmingham’s city centre and Holzherr himself lives in the hip and happening Jewellery Quarter. “We could have set up anywhere, but I have had great experiences of working here in the past, as I set up my first and second businesses in Birmingham. It’s low cost, you get great support and financial incentives and there are large universities and lots of talented people for us to employ.”

Never the noisy, crazy or angry one, Holzherr made it through The Apprentice by regularly being on the winning team and avoiding the dreaded boardroom. Since the show came to an end, he’s stayed focused on his business plans – he is an entrepreneur at heart and says he didn’t join the show to gain fame. “I wasn’t that upset about not winning, although I wanted to win. If you go into the process you should want to win it. We have had the benefit of great PR and I haven’t had to give up that much equity. But if someone asked me if I wanted Lord Sugar as my business partner I would say: ‘yes’.”


When it launches, Whisk aims to help people easily buy the ingredients for recipes which they spot online or on TV. With the click of a few buttons, a user will be able to order the ingredients for their seafood risotto or duck terrine directly, from a store of their choice. Users will be able to add a plug-in to their browsers, download an app, or click on an icon if the recipe is found on a participating website. Whisk is launching with Waitrose and Tesco, although the other big supermarkets are signed up, too, and Holzherr plans to do tie-ins with delicatessens and other smaller stores. “The reason a lot of people don’t like to cook is because it is a hassle. But home cooking and celebrity chefs are really big and we are tapping into that market. If we can achieve what we are planning to do it’s going to be absolutely massive.”


In the meantime, Holzherr is enjoying life in the city, has been spotted at the odd VIP party and enjoys some attention as he soaks up the city’s social scene. Inspite of his three months on the nation’s TV screens, he finds life in the city to be a fairly relaxed and hassle-free experience. “I don’t get papped, I don’t think there are any paparazzi in Birmingham. People sometimes come up to me, which is nice. Some are very excited and just happy to meet you. If there are a lot of students about there can be a bit of attention, but it’s died down a lot since the show has ended.”

Holzherr’s favourite drinking haunts include the Jekyll & Hyde and Lord Clifden pubs. One of his neighbours is Aktar Islam, owner of top of the range Indian restaurant Lasan, where he sometimes goes. Although Holzherr still enjoys the more economical balti house Al Frash on the Ladypool Road, a reminder of his student days in the city. “I find living in Birmingham to be really good, it is much cheaper than anywhere else and it has almost everything. I have a really nice flat in the Jewellery Quarter, if you spent the same in London you’d get a box.”


At 26, Holzherr is remarkably young to be working on his third business. But he’s the type of person who takes his chances as they arise and doesn’t let fear get in his way. He chose to do The Apprentice more or less on a whim, despite the fact that he was warned off it by friends. “I told my friends about applying and they said I shouldn’t do it as I have a posh voice and they thought people would think I was a twat. Overall, I was happy with the way they portrayed me, there were certain parts where I thought: ‘that wasn’t quite right’, but that comes from editing a couple of days of film into a 60-minute show. It was one of those things in life, a big experience that I am glad I didn’t miss.”