Former Otley girl Helene Speight failed in her bid to be crowned this year's 'Apprentice'.

The former pupil at Prince Henry's Grammar School - made it through to the penultimate round of the BBC show after impressing business guru Sir Alan Sugar with her competitive flair.

But she fell at the final hurdle as the title went to Lee McQueen in a final watched by a TV audience of millions. Helene made it through to Wednesday night's finals following a series of boardroom showdowns with Sir Alan.

Helene's old neighbours in Otley were rooting for her to win.

Neighbour Jill Cannon of St David's Road, Otley, said: "I definitely wanted her to win.I have been watching it every week and she has surprised me in many ways. When she lived here she was very young I think she was about 21 when she left and she is 32 now so she has got a few more years on her.

"Obviously I have never worked with her so I don't know what she's like in real life I only knew her as a neighbour and she was a lovely girl.

"All of the candidates show their competitive side it's dog eat dog, but I'm sure we only see what producers want us to see."

Helene, who now lives in Wakefield, battled against 15 other ambitious contestants in a bid to clinch a six-figure salary job with the gruff tycoon.

During her quest she faced a number of boardroom showdowns with Sir Alan who is known for his ruthless decision making.

Helene, who left school at 16, used to live at St David's Road, in Otley.

The 6ft tomboy, who loves playing football, began her working life as an administration assistant in insurance before spells as a recruitment consultant, performance analyst in telesales and in I.T. related fields.

During her time on the show it was revealed that the pretty brunette fought to blot out a miserable childhood, growing up with an alcoholic mum.

She vowed to win 'The Apprentice' in honour of her late mother Geraldine, who, in the years before her death, finally won her battle against the bottle and become a huge inspiration.

The pair grew close in the years before she died of a heart attack in October 2004 aged 58.

Helene told how she too went off the rails lacking any real focus in life.

It was her mum's determination to beat the bottle that finally inspired Helene to rebuild her life and by the time she died, her daughter was already on the way to success.

Her late mum was in the police force as was her dad Peter. Helene has one sister, Caroline, who has also joined the force.

Before signing up to 'The Apprentice' Helene rose up through the ranks of General Electric, becoming a European Pricing Leader.

But despite her success on the show, she told reporters on the 'Sunday People' earlier this week that the experience had taken its toll on her health as she slept a maximum of four hours a night, surviving on a diet of junk food.

She said she was rushed to hospital during filming, suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and told how the nature of the show encouraged an onslaught of backbiting among contestants, which added to the stress she was under.

She was qouted as saying: "I want to be a success in business but putting myself through all this has not been worth the pain and humiliation."

Competing against Helene in the final were retail buyer Claire Young, recruitment sales manager Lee McQueen and sales manager Alex Wotherspoon.