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Reality TV Interview

Debra Barr, James McQuillan, Lorraine Tighe ('The Apprentice')

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Debra Barr, James McQuillan, Lorraine Tighe ('The Apprentice')
On this week's Apprentice, Sir Alan Sugar gave us a triple whammy of firings. After some gruelling interviews and an emotional boardroom, the multi-millionaire picked Kate Walsh and Yasmina Siadatan for his final two. Falling just short were James McQuillan, Debra Barr and Lorraine Tighe. DS caught up with all three fired candidates to find out whether they enjoyed their 11 weeks on the show and to discover what the future may hold for them.

Do you guys think Sir Alan made the right decision in firing you this week?
James: "I think my number was up basically. I can't grumble too much. It was a bit frustrating in that I came across like too much of a joker, but in the end I think Sir Alan Sugar made the right decision."
Lorraine: "I definitely don't think that I deserved to go. In my opinion it should have been a Debra and Lorraine final. It would have been a lot more interesting. Yasmina and Kate are fantastic, but they have kept below the radar all the way through. Myself and Debra have shown more guts whenever we were tested. James did as well, to a certain extent."
Debra: "In a way, of course I think I should have been in the final. I have worked hard and taken on the criticisms that Sir Alan, Nick and Margaret have given me over the 11 weeks. But on the other hand, I was really, really grateful to end on such a high.

Debra, you have come in for some serious flak over your behaviour on the show. Did you regret any of your actions when you watched them back?
Debra: "I don't think there will be a candidate who doesn't look back at what they have said, done or how they have acted on certain tasks without a little bit of regret. But it's all about what you take from that. Do you ignore it, sit and moan about it, or do you get on with it and make a positive out of it? I made sure that every time I went in the boardroom and got a verbal beating, I never made that same mistake again."

Sir Alan said that he would like you to stay in touch. Will you?
Debra: "Absolutely. I wouldn't have given up everything in my life unless I genuinely wanted to work for Sir Alan. If I can't get that job by winning The Apprentice, I will be more than willing to try and take different avenues to achieve that."

Lorraine, you've had run-ins with a number of contestants and lots of fallings out. Were you ever tempted to quit the show?
Lorraine: "No, not at all. I think a lot of people underestimate me because I'm a very strong lady. The show didn't really touch my surface on that front. The only thing I struggled with really was my physical tiredness. Had I been a little bit more physically fit going into the show, I may not have been so tired towards the end. I really struggled and didn't have much more energy to give in those final weeks. Also, I very much missed my daughters. I was suffering in silence with that. I didn't get to speak to them on a daily basis and they are both very young, so by the end, that was causing me a lot of pain."

James, you managed to make Sir Alan laugh! Was that a deliberate tactic to get far in the competition?
James: "If you can make that miserable fellow laugh, you've got to be on to a winner really. I don't think there are many people that can do that. In all seriousness, I like to think that I'm a likeable and approachable sort of fellow and you do need people like that in a business. No one can run a business on their own and I think you need people who can help bring out the best in people."

James, will you be pursuing a career in comedy? Will we ever see you and Yasmina revive your shopping channel double act?
James: "There's not many areas which combine both business and comedy, which is very frustrating. But I wouldn't mind giving it a go. If someone is willing to pay me money to stand up, tell jokes, or write them down, then I think I would be missing an opportunity not to take it."

How upsetting was it week after week to see other contestants winning Sir Alan's special treats?
James: "Gutting! What made it even worse was that the prizes I tended to get weren't actually that good. I won a couple of cocktails after I'd been awake for 20 hours, then the other time I had to go and see some laughing nutter. I think I already know how to laugh; I don't really need to be told by some fellow. But I admit, I am an eight-year-old boy trapped in the body of a 32-year-old man."

As the last man standing, what did you make of your male rivals this year?
James: "Every time I went back to that house after going to the boardroom, it was always the men that looked surprised. Particularly one of them, who was probably thinking about going to Sandhust at the time - I think you'll probably guess who I mean. I remember at one point that person said to me, 'How have you not got fired?' I felt a tremendous amount of pride when I got further than he did. But out of the rest of the guys, I probably respected Phillip the most."

You've all had tabloids digging up dirt on your past. Has that been upsetting in recent weeks?
Debra: "No, not at all. I mean the bullsh*t the tabloids write - I don't know who reads them. No one that I would work for, who is going to me pay me £75,000-a-year, is going to read The Sun or The Mirror any day of the week. So when people are saying things about me in the paper, or claiming that I've had my boobs done, it doesn't bother me at all. It's water off a duck's back. Anyone who knows me knows exactly how I live my life. The press pick on people because they need a scandalous story, but most people know what's right and what's not."
Lorraine: "The one thing that I would say about that is that I'm a mother with two daughters and my family live in a small town in Ireland. I'm not so much worried about myself in all of this, I was more concerned about the impact on my family. I don't read tabloids, but nothing prepared me for the impact on my family."

You guys all seriously wanted to win the show. Was it annoying when other contestants like Philip and Ben sold their stories?
Debra: "I think Ben and Philip are both extremely talented boys. Ben and Rocky this year were two very young contestants, and I think they have business acumen way beyond their years. But when you see yourself on TV, it's very hard to not fall into that world of looking to make the most money. It takes a stronger person to say, 'I'm not getting involved in all that, I'm not speaking to the red tops'. What I'm doing is looking for my next job and networking with the right people to get that."

Who do you think Sir Alan is going to appoint out of Yasmina and Kate?
Debra: "I think Yasmina and Kate are both exceptional candidates. They are both 27 and are very, very good. No one can take that away from them. But for me, if Sir Alan doesn't take on Kate he will be making the second biggest error of his life... the first being not putting me into the final. But Yasmina is a very worthy opponent."
James: "I think that he has picked the right two for the final. I would like to see - and think I will see - Yasmina winning. Just because I think Sir Alan is looking this year for a risktaker, someone who isn't the textbook applicant."
Lorraine: "Kate was my roommate, and I'm very close to her - we're still friends now in fact. But I have to say now that for effort and what I've seen to date, Yasmina will win The Apprentice 2009."

The Apprentice final airs Sunday, June 7 at 9pm on BBC One.

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