IT'S one of toughest job interviews anyone could ever face.

Not only do you have to compete with more than 10,000 people for the job but you have also got to do it every week, for 12 weeks, in front of millions of TV viewers.

At the end of that is a job working as the right-hand man of possibly one of the toughest bosses in the country.

Ex-Army lieutenant Paul Callaghan, 27, from Ocean Village, Southampton, believes he is the right candidate for the job.

Yesterday he was revealed as one of the 16 contestants in the new series of the award-winning business show, The Apprentice.

Paul will be battling with the 15 other contestants to win a six-figure salary job with the tough-talking Amstrad tycoon Sir Alan Sugar.

While his previous experience of the harsh realities of the business world include selling jumpers on his parents' market stall in Brussels, his competition includes a car salesman, a global brand consultant and a financial expert.

Paul, who claims his time in the military "taught him cool, calm and collected leadership and to have no time for dilly-dallying," said: "My lack of commercial experience might be a weakness but my leadership and organisational qualities are definite strengths."

One gossip magazine reported Paul will be involved in an Apprentice romance with fellow contestant, Katie Hopkins, 31, during the show.

Paul's dad, Derek, a business director who shares the family's Ocean Village home with his wife Diana, said: "You should tune in absolutely and watch the show. Then make your mind up about how good it is."

Paul's competition also includes a quantum physicist, a would-be secret agent, plus three single mothers.

Fortunately, Paul, who quit his job before joining the show, is no stranger to dealing with a tough-talking no-nonsense boss.

He passed through the rigorous Army training regime at Britain's elite military school, Sandhurst, where princes Harry and William earned their spurs.

Paul, who has a degree in engineering physics, also served for six months as an infantry commander in Basra, Iraq.

Sandhurst's Col Roy Parkinson told the Daily Echo that Paul's Army training would stand him in good stead.

He said: "It's 41 weeks of very intensive training which develops their character and leadership ability. We push them to the limit. Those who come to Sandhurst have to come through a stringent selection process. They are the best."

During the 12 weeks of the show, the candidates will share a Notting Hill mansion.

The budding apprentices will be split into two teams and given a weekly task to test their skills.

The challenges set in the latest series are believed to be some of the toughest tests of the business brain ever seen on the show, including two international tasks.

The teams will go head-to-head as they try to sell British farm produce at a French farmers' market, design dog accessories, create a new brand of trainers and produce sweets to sell at London Zoo.

For those on the winning team, a taste of the illustrious lifestyle awaits in the form of a treat, but those on the losing team will quickly find out that Sir Alan Sugar is not so sweet.

The losing team's project manager must choose the two worst performing members of his or her team.

The three of them then have to defend their respective corners while Sir Alan, assisted by his trusted advisers Margaret Mountford and Nick Hewer, decides which of them will hear the dreaded Apprentice catchphrase: "You're fired!"

l The Apprentice series has transferred from BBC2 to BBC1. It starts next Wednesday.