Sugar and dough – a recipe for success

Ruby Gregory meets Carina Lepore, local trader and winner of The Apprentice

Carina Lepore, winner of the Apprentice outside family business DoughCarina Lepore, 30, winner of the fifteenth series of The Apprentice in December, is the manager of Dough, an artisan bakery and café next to Herne Hill train station.

Carina’s prize is a £250,000 investment in her business plan from Lord Sugar.

Originally from Croydon, Carina has always lived and worked in South London. The get-up-and-go attitude that won her The Apprentice, was evident early on – from owning a clothing shop in Croydon to an impressive decade of working in retail. She now manages the family business, Dough. Her father Carlo is a baker there and sister Rachelle also helps run it.

Carina Lepore with Sir Alan SugarCarina was an extraordinary candidate, winning nine out of ten challenges in the series. This does not mean that she has not had her fair share of difficulties. Dough has been through some painful and ­challenging times.

After fire damaged the premises a few years ago, it was Carina and her sister who took over and put all their efforts into ensuring it is the vibrant bakery of today.

Visiting Dough is a must if you are passing through or live near to the area. It is a bubbly place to have a coffee or share a cake in and you will receive a warm welcome from its friendly members of staff.

Carina says life has been “insane’’ since winning The Apprentice. The weeks following the final were a frenzy of old and new customers congratulating her. “I wouldn’t get this sort of exposure from the shop any other way, it’s life changing,’’ she says.

And it’s not just customers that have recognised her talents, local schools have asked Carina to talk to their students.

Her drive and natural confidence is obvious. She is calm and collected under pressure, and has the same personality off-screen. “I was really true to myself, I wouldn’t want to change the way I was, any decision I made, I would stick by it’’.

Carina says her favourite weekly challenge was the rollercoaster (Series 15 Episode 6). This involved designing and marketing a new rollercoaster to industry professionals and a random audience.

Her favourite moment was after the penultimate pitch for her business plan: “I felt euphoric, so happy, I thought ‘whoever he picks now, I’ve done my best’.”

Carina says the next 12 months will be very exciting in terms of business and for herself.

She is in regular communication with Lord Sugar via WhatsApp and email. He has remained supportive of her business plans – perhaps branching out to other South London locations, including Brixton, Dulwich, Streatham and Crystal Palace.

The original Dough is still open seven days a week.

Dough Artisan Bakehouse
284 Milkwood Road, SE24 0EZ
020 7733 1244,