The Apprentice returns to our screens this week, with 18 hopefuls vying for Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment.
It’s always tough in the first week, with some candidates keen to standout from the crowd and others eager to avoid the dreaded role of Project Manager. Michelle Niziol ignored the naysayers though and, like so many before her, took on the task and paid the price by becoming the first to exit the show.
Following her untimely exit from the show loaded spoke to the property entrepreneur about regrets, Claude and antiques.
loaded: How do you feel to be the first to get fired?
Michelle: Shocked. (laughs) My sister told me before I went in: ‘For God’s sake do not be project manager on Week One.’ Next thing you know, I end up as project manager.
I was just shocked that none of the girls put themselves forward, bearing in mind we were supposed to be nine of the best businesswomen in the UK.
loaded: Do you have any regrets about being Project Manager?
Michelle: No, I do not regret any business decisions I make. I had made the decision beforehand that if I was going out on Week One, it wasn’t going to be because I was hiding in the background.
In the application process, they had asked me whether I would want to be project manager if I made it through. I actually said ‘I would find it more difficult if I wasn’t project manager.’
If that had come out in the process, that would have been embarrassing, so I stuck to my guns. Most of the girls thought I was a good project manager. It was the market sub-team that lost it for us.
loaded: Would you do anything differently?
Michelle: Probably not. Things happen for a reason. I may have gone out first but I got to experience The Apprentice, which was a dream of mine. Even though I ended up being on the show for less time than a girly holiday (laughs).
loaded: Who should have been fired?
Michelle: Rebecca, because she sold £25 worth of stuff all day. She really didn’t do us any favours on that task and I just think I was a stronger candidate than her.
“I’ve steered clear of antique shops ever since The Apprentice”
loaded: After trading antiques, do you fancy yourself as the next David Dickinson?
Michelle: Absolutely not (laughs). I can’t even bring myself to go to a car boot sale now. I’ve steered clear of antique shops ever since The Apprentice.
loaded: Just how scary is Claude in real life?
Michelle: Massively scary. He’s scarier in real life than on the TV. Absolutely terrifying. He doesn’t interact or get involved. He just stands there making his notes and you have no clue what he’s writing.
I think he was quite cutting about me, saying I was project manager only in name, which I disagree with. I was gutted I didn’t get to work with Karren Brady though.
loaded: Lord Sugar: does he look more like David Jason or Sid James?
Michelle: I don’t know who Sid James is. No idea. So I can’t comment. Lord Sugar is brilliant though. he has an aura but he’s funny – those one-liners are not scripted.
loaded: How did it feel when he pointed at you and said the immortal words “you’re fired”?
Michelle: Well, he started by being really nice about me. He called me astute and brave and at one point I thought Rebecca might be going. Then, right at the end he started talking to me and I thought ‘here we go’ and then the finger came out. He was nice though.
“You have to have a thick skin – it’s not an easy process”
loaded: What was your business plan like?
Michelle: My business plan took me 100 hours to put together and I was in there two nights. I thought I would make it to the interview stage at least and that the business plan would get aired.
I own a mortgage company and estate agency with lettings, so the plan was to expand on that business rapidly.
loaded: Favourite Apprentice contestant of all-time?
Michelle: I loved Charlene from the last series. She wore her heart on her sleeve and didn’t have a game plan.
loaded: Any advice for would-be Apprentice candidates out there?
Michelle: You have to have a thick skin – it’s not an easy process. You get torn apart by other candidates, people you don’t even know.
The Apprentice continues every Thursday at 9pm on BBC One
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.