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Reality TV Interview

'The Apprentice': Paul Callaghan

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'The Apprentice': Paul Callaghan
This week on The Apprentice Sir Alan challenged his proteges to sell the best of British food products at a French market. While Lohit's team turned in a profit of £410, Paul's team made a disastrous loss - yes, an actual loss - of £225.84. Who got the boot? Paul, whose decision to buy industrial quantities of "breeze-block cheese" from a budget cash and carry was ridiculed by Sir Alan. We caught up with the former Army Lieutenant to find out what went wrong, what he really thinks of Kristina and the truth about his, ahem, "personal relationship" with Katie.

How disappointed are you to have been fired?
“I think the thing that hurts the most is when I was told, ‘You could have won this thing’. When that comes from Nick, Margaret and Sir Alan, it’s almost worse than hearing them say, ‘You never stood a chance’. Knowing that if I’d played it a bit straighter, I could have gone all the way, that’s a bit of a bitter pill to swallow. I certainly went on this show with the intention of trying to win. I wasn’t going on to it to boost my bloody profile or anything like that. Some people may be on the show to do that, but I think I was one of the ones who was taking it seriously. I actually wanted to win the thing rather than just make pithy comments to the camera."

Could you be talking about Tre by any chance?
“Well, Tre’s the master of that. It’s kind of been the Tre show at points, hasn’t it?”

What do you think was your undoing?
“The main mistake I made was strategic. In previous weeks everyone had played it safe. For some reason the magic number was 300 units – 300 sausages, 300 whatever. You could normally shift that from a market stall. We’d seen that from the coffee task and from the chocolate task. My cunning plan – and it seemed brilliant at the time – was to sell 300 units to the passing trade of the stall, and another 300 units to the shops around the marketplace. I had twice as much stock as the other team and I only had from 9am to 1pm to shift it. I just ran out of time. Had I had from 9am to 4pm I probably could have shifted all of it and I would have annihilated Lohit. But I thought, ‘Sod this. This is my one chance to go and do something different and I’m really gonna push it’. Everyone had been playing it so safe and I either wanted to win big or lose big. And, you know what, I lost big.”

So do you blame yourself for losing the task?
“Of course I do. It was my decision to go out there and buy all that stock. I just thought, ‘This is my one chance to do this. I’m not going to go out there and play it safe.’ I wanted to be a bit entrepreneurial.”

What are your thoughts on Kristina after the task?
“You know, Kristina’s one of the people who’s out there to win it, right? Her tactic of trying to undermine me and deciding to play a political game is probably going to get her a long way. The question is, do you go on the show and be the nice guy and try and do what you do in normal business, or do you go on there determined to win and do everything you need to make that happen? Can you criticise her for doing what it takes to make it happen? Maybe you can’t. Can you criticise her for being a bit nasty and vindictive when doing it? Maybe, but do morals and integrity have any place on The Apprentice? I don't think so."

Who do you think will go on to win?
“I hope it’s between Naomi and Simon. They’re nice people who have good skills, but they still have a lot to learn. They’re not the fully-formed article yet – look at Katie or Kristina, I can’t imagine them changing in the near future. They’re pretty much the people they’re always going to be – but there’s some malleability to Naomi and Simon. They truly are Apprentice material in my opinion.”

Do you think Naomi’s got the leadership skills Sir Alan needs? She deferred to Kristina quite a lot when she was project manager.
“You know what, having seen that task now, I’m less impressed with her than I was at the time. She did defer to Kristina an awful lot.”

And what's impressed you about Simon?
“He’s got a brain the size of a planet, an Oxford degree and has his own online business. He used to be an investment banker so he’s got a finance side too, and he’s just a really nice guy. If I have to lose to someone, I don’t mind losing to him.”

What do you think of Katie’s chances?
“Mate, what do you think Katie’s motivations are for being on that show? She’s got a really good job already that pays close to £100k. Does she really want to up sticks and take her family to (Sir Alan's headquarters in) Brentwood? What do you think she’s doing on there? What’s her aim in all of this? I don’t know. She plays her cards very close to her chest. We did get close but I could never get that out of her. Maybe she just decided to go on the show on a whim, who knows?”

Do you think your friendship with Katie affected your decision-making abilities?
“I mean, I can’t deny it. I was close to Katie – we’ve got a similar background and I’ve got masses of respect for her personally and as a businesswoman. I did put a lot of stock in what she had to say and I didn’t put a lot of stock in what Kristina had to say. In some ways, Kristina was making more valid points than Katie throughout the task, but because I felt I couldn’t trust Kristina, I wasn’t really putting much stock in her. The fact that she had such an obvious agenda made me less inclined to trust her, really.”

What are your thoughts on Sir Alan?
“I think it’s just all about business for him. Business is his hobby and business is his life. You know, you can’t do anything but respect him for what he’s achieved. I think he’d be a very hard manager to work for, so maybe I’ve had a lucky escape!”

And what do you make of his assistants, Nick and Margaret?
“They keep themselves distant, but sometimes you can draw them into a giggle. Margaret can giggle like a schoolgirl sometimes! Nick’s quite an approachable guy too, actually, but obviously they both shift into Apprentice mode during the show and try and act as stern and nasty as possible. That’s all an act.”

Do you have any regrets?
“I don’t know. I was only 50/50 about doing the show in the first place, because I knew it would open me up to all this criticism and stuff. Emotionally it’s been quite heavy, so I don’t know. It’s been a bit of a wildcard thrown into my life, to be honest. It certainly wasn’t part of my life plan, that’s for sure.”

The next episode of The Apprentice airs on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC One.

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