Social media goes wild as Derbyshire businessman James Hill makes debut appearance on The Apprentice

Picture: @bbcapprentice on Twitter.

Picture: @bbcapprentice on Twitter.

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Chesterfield entrepreneur James Hill has survived the first round of The Apprentice – and amassed a legion of fans on social media.

The 26-year-old made his debut appearance on last night’s show in which 20 businessmen and women compete to land a top job with Lord Alan Sugar.

James, whose nickname is ‘Del Boy’, was part of a team which failed to sell £500 worth of t-shirts – leaving them at the printers instead.

The manager of the team, Chiles Cartwright, was held responsible and the first to be told “you’re fired” by multi-million pound tycoon Lord Sugar.

Earlier in the hit BBC show, Chiles mocked James for being “northern” and “confused”.

“He’d sell his own grandmother,” he added.

Lord Sugar said he could not believe the t-shirts had been left at the printers, calling it a “fiasco” and a “travesty”.

Before the show, James said: “Del Boy’s my nickname – always chancing, I’m a bit of an opportunist.”

Acerbic Lord Sugar told him last night: “You do realise Del Boy wasn’t very successful, don’t you?”

On Twitter, one delighted fan wrote: “I am actually in love with James.”

“James is a bit of alright!” said another as the avalanche of tweets continued.

On Facebook, Claire Ledger said: “Let’s get behind the local lad.”

And Kerry Insley said: “Drive, determination and ambitious. Go James – wishing you luck.”

James believes he is going to be a millionaire and build an empire with Lord Sugar.

The son of Chesterfield businessman Jason Hill, James’s entrepreneurial spark began aged 13 when he sold chocolate bars to his school classmates to make extra dinner money.

He launched his business career by setting up a hand car wash in the town.

The multiple business owner’s previous ventures include supplying gaming machines to clubs in the UK, which he later expanded to Ireland, and opening a restaurant and bar, including Havana Whites in Chesterfield.

James said: “Having to fend for myself since the age of 16, I believe my strength of character and drive to succeed will put me in good stead.

“I am Lord Sugar when he was my age

He admits he can be “a bit of a know-it-all” and that his tendency to get “over-excited” may get on people’s nerves.

The Apprentice continues on BBC1 tonight at 9pm.