Ross Fretten chats with Female First
Ross Fretten chats with Female First

When Ross Fretten auditioned for The Apprentice, he probably thought it would be one of the best experiences of his life. Unfortunately, that's not really how it worked out, and when he was fired by Lord Alan Sugar, he reflects on the show as a time he learned absolutely nothing in, in regards to business.

Despite not winning, he's stuck to his guns and become an incredible success, and here talks about his new venture, Waggel (

Tell us what you’ve been up to since we saw you on The Apprentice?

After The Apprentice I continued working on my business plan from the show - my dog training and health platform Kibble ( Together with my friends we built a prototype dog fitness tracker and app-based training programme and was in the process of securing funding when I met Andrew, who I eventually co-founded Waggel with. Alongside this I was writing stand-up comedy and visiting venues/meeting comics with a view of having a run performing stand-up.

What can you tell us about your latest project, smartphone-based pet-insurance Waggel?

My latest project, Waggel is reinventing pet insurance for the digital age. Unlike other providers, Waggel offers a fully-digital platform which means customers can get a quote in less than 30 seconds, manage their membership all on their smartphone and track a claim - in real-time - all without having to listen to another minute of hold music! On top of this, our insurance sits within something far more exciting - our pet health and wellbeing membership. As a Waggel member, customers get access to unique perks and discounts from our hand-selected, quality pet food, toys and accessories partners meaning it’s easier and more affordable than ever to provide your pet with the quality they deserve... or just treat them!

How has your appearance on The Apprentice helped you to push your business forward? Has it opened any doors?

The Apprentice definitely made it easier for me to open conversations with potential investors and the like - people are just more interested in a business that’s been on TV than one that hasn’t, especially when it’s a show like The Apprentice that they more than likely either watch or at the very least are highly opinionated about. In practice however, the second that part of the conversation finishes, The Apprentice becomes irrelevant and it’s down to me and my business ideas. All of the support I managed to gather for Kibble and now Waggel has come from my very real, personal relationships with friends, colleagues and the tech industry - in fact the entire Waggel product team are personal friends of mine that helped me with Kibble. The Apprentice hasn't influenced any of it.

Was there anything you learned from the show that has helped you on your journey?

I can honestly say I learnt nothing from my time on The Apprentice. I took some risks, had some fun, demonstrated my competence, won the support of my peers and then got fired anyway, largely due to my reluctance to play ball with irrational and outdated practices and methodologies. That’s pretty much a reflection of my professional career as well, but ironically my reluctance to play ball with irrational and outdated methodologies is a huge part of the success I have had and continue to have.

Did you enjoy the experience of being on TV each week?

Being on TV each week was a great experience. I was one of several idiotic teenagers that found YouTube success back in the early 2000s and eventually ended up with a show on MTV, so it’s an experience I’ve been lucky enough to have twice. As somebody that lives in a constant state of flux between raging narcissism and cripplingly low self-worth, being on TV and watched by millions of people in both cases was a thrilling, yet terrifying adrenaline-filled experience. Both times I’ve found my humour to be quite polarising, which I actually quite enjoy - it gives me the (probably false) sense that my humour belongs to a “sophisticated niche”, but in reality it’s probably just that I’m “barely, if at all funny”. You’re Fired was by far the most fun I’ve had not just on TV but in a long time - I was bursting with adrenaline at the time and experienced one of the biggest highs of my life for about two days afterwards, which was a welcome contrast to my otherwise flaccid enthusiasm.

If you could employ any Apprentice candidates to work with as part of your business, who would you choose?

If I were to employ any of The Apprentice candidates in my business... well Saj would be number one on my list. He’s adorable and charming despite being a typical full-of-s*** recruiter. I could also store my dog treats in his hair.

How would you summerise your Apprentice experience overall?

I would summarise my experience on The Apprentice as arduous, but not for the reasons you’d think. The challenge for me was being trapped in a house full of people, the majority of which were so ravished by a severe case of self-infatuation with, from what I could see, no justification. Having no access to my friends or my dog (@thehairysailor on Instagram) was predictably distressing as together they comprise my entire support network and being told when to sleep, wake up and eat naturally irked me as I loathe being told what to do. Luckily I did make some great friends in the process and as those relationships started to become tolerable, everything became a lot easier in the house. I’m still in touch with several candidates who I’m grateful to call friends.

Do you have any advice for any future contestants?

I would advise any future contestant; don’t take it so seriously. Nobody else does, so have fun with it, get your personality across, and please just treat people properly - not just on The Apprentice which encourages an insidious blame culture, but also in life.

What do you make of people who go on the show looking for fame?

A lot of people go onto the show looking for fame, and why shouldn’t they? It’s a mechanism by which to get exposure, which is a key step to achieving fame, so it’s probably quite a logical decision. I personally think if you have a talent that you deserve to be recognised for, then authentic recognition will come naturally if you put the work in. If it doesn’t, then maybe your talent, or lack thereof isn’t so special and shoe-horning yourself onto a business-themed game show is unlikely to bring about anything but your fleeting 15 minutes, certainly nothing authentic. But, if inauthentic, fleeting validation is what these people think they want, then why not go for it?

What is in store for Waggel over the next few months? 

Now that we've launched our insurance offering, we'll be focusing the next 12 months on building out the Waggel membership experience. We've secured £2.5million in funding and secured a fantastic underwriter so our customers don't have to worry about the fact that we're a new brand. In fact, 2019 will all be about focusing on making Waggel the go-to brand for pet health and wellbeing. We'll be doing this by offering members expert, personalised information and advice available for free on their smartphones, as well as building out exciting new features to make caring for a cat or dog even easier and more affordable than ever. We have loads of exciting features we're working on already but more importantly 2019 will be a year of dialogue for Waggel. We want to talk to our customers and would-be customers and find out exactly what they would want from a pet membership so that we can go ahead and build it for them. The customer always knows best after all.

Finally, what has been your proudest moment so far?

I wouldn't say I have a single proudest moment - my relentless dissatisfaction with my own success prohibits me from experiencing pride. What I would say though, is that I am proud to find myself where I am today and more importantly how I've gotten here. My story is another "came from nothing" story and I am proud that I've now surpassed anything I could have imagined I was capable of achieving as a kid and I've done so whilst retaining my principals, my moral integrity and looking out for everybody around me. And I'm nowhere near done.

You can find out more about Waggel at

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