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TV Interview

Joanna Riley ('The Apprentice')

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The Apprentice Contestants 2010: Joanna Riley

© BBC

It was one of the most emotional farewells in Apprentice history last night as Leicester's Joanna Riley was given the chop by Lord Sugar. Despite impressing with her straight talking and no-nonsense business sense, the millionaire didn't believe that Riley would fit into his organisation. We caught up with the 25-year-old yesterday to find out what the future holds for her.

It was a wonderful episode of The Apprentice this week. Did you enjoy watching the show back?
"It was lovely and I had been on such a journey. From the start I had been seen as someone who was being aggressive, but in my opinion I was just being honest and my honesty sometimes upset people. But I think last night proved I'm not that way. There is no way Lord Sugar would have fired me in that way and after seeing Margaret [Mountford] say those things about me in the boardroom it made me cry."

You did come across as aggressive at times. Looking back, do you think that was down to insecurities about your lack of experience compared to some of the other candidates?
"I think you've hit the nail on the head there, Alex. I didn't believe in myself. I have had to do everything myself. I've brought up my kids, sent them to private school, built up my business - I've done it all and never really praised myself for doing it. You only get one life so you should work hard and aim for the best. But on The Apprentice a lot of candidates had experienced jobs and were used to dealing with boardrooms and meetings. But I was Joanna - a cleaning lady who had gone on the show and I didn't believe in myself. Going on the show has given me that confidence. Now, I do believe in myself. I am good at sales, I am good at maths, I'm a good businesswoman and I actually am a nice person."

It must feel good to have been given one of Lord Sugar's 'with regret' firings...
"Well I was speaking to someone backstage after You're Fired who was an Apprentice expert and they knew everything about every series. He said there had only been two other regret firings in Apprentice history and that was touching. He said it was the best firing in Apprentice history. I could barely get out of the door after I'd been fired because my head was so big. I had Lord Sugar, the interviewers, Karren Brady - all saying great things. I've worked hard and I feel like I deserve it. I just need to stand on my own feet again now, get out there and get on with it."

What was it like getting that grilling from the four interviewers?
"I knew what to expect. I knew it wasn't going to be an easy time. But I feel like I dealt with them well. The only negativity that I got was from Lord Sugar saying that I didn't have business acumen. But I don't agree with that because I've started my own business and I couldn't do that without business acumen. But the interviews were fine and I think once you've gone through that, where these four people are trying to rip you to shreds, then I can take on any interview in the future."

In contrast to your emotional firing, Lord Sugar rather angrily axed Stuart Baggs. What did you make of Stuart Baggs - The Brand?
"I believe that everyone got to the final five on their own merit. I didn't waste my time worrying about Stuart or any of the others. Lord Sugar must have seen some positives in Stuart to take him that far. He was on the winning team quite a few times and I know there was this breakdown in communication over this telecoms licence, but he has a heart of gold, Stuart. He should be praised for wanting to better himself and he hasn't murdered anyone. He's just gone for a job interview and got a bit carried away."

So you got on well with Stuart?
"Do you know what, I think Stuart was a little bit scared of me! The only time he got good feedback was when he worked with me and he did work so well. The thing about Stuart is that he needs to be praised and I did that for him. We all need to be told we're good sometimes. I liked working with him though: he was a hard worker and a grafter."

What are your plans now? Will you be building up the cleaning company as Lord Sugar advised?
"That's one side of it. I am a businesswoman and I'm looking for investment in the cleaning company. I want to re-brand the company name and even sell products. But I'm also hoping that I can leave that business running and it will be able to operate without me. I'm open to job offers and I'm hoping now that I've been fired on the show that people will want to give me opportunities. I'm a good speaker; I'm an experienced mum; I've lived a varied life. But I also don't expect these things to just come my way because I've been on the show. I'm going to keep working hard and I'm going to get a well paid job that I deserve."

Who do you think will win out of Stella and Chris?
"I think they are both strong in their own way. Stella is passionate, she really wants the job and Chris is great at speaking and he's a clever guy. They are both fantastic and I wish them the best of luck. I'm sure whoever doesn't get the job will be successful anyway."

The Apprentice final airs on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.

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