Typically viewed from behind the safe confines of a cushion, the new series of The Apprentice was as cringeworthy as I expected it to be. Testosterone was flying in all directions (from both camps,) and thankfully, at least on this occasion, the right candidate got fired.
I have always enjoyed this programme but for the last three years, I have looked at it with fresh eyes. You see, I very nearly appeared on the show.
To look at my CV, you’d be right in asking why I even applied to appear on the show at all. Having spent my working life in supporting roles, albeit at a senior level, who was I to think the producers would even look twice at me and, moreover, why on earth would I want to go on there?
To be honest, I don’t fully understand the answers to either question.
At the time, I had just completed my first year at University, was working four days a week as Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive of my local council, had recently lost my Mum and my partner was working at the other end of the country. A perfect time to go for an interview for one of the BBC’s highest ratings show, surely?!
What was I thinking?
I was thinking, why the hell not!?
I remember seeing the advertisement looking for candidates and feeling an overwhelming urge to apply. Impulsive, yes, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’d been impulsive (going to Uni being done on a whim.)
I wanted to prove a point. I was being typically stubborn. To the people who know me well, my application wasn’t a total surprise.
I had no business qualifications, I hadn’t even taken A Levels, but in my heart I knew that, given the chance, I could do the job as well as anyone else. It might have taken me a little longer to get up to speed, but I felt, rightly or wrongly, that I had a lot to offer.
But would the producers see it like that?
Amazingly, they almost did.
I took my family up to the 5* hotel where the auditions were being held on this particular Saturday afternoon. I wanted the children to come so that they could see that Mum still has dreams and that it’s good they have them too. I wanted them to be proud of me, no matter what the outcome. My family couldn’t have been more excited.
I didn’t wear a suit and I was the only one who didn’t. I had a handbag instead of a briefcase. It wasn’t that I wasn’t taking the process seriously, I very much was, but I suppose it was me being stubborn again. I wanted them to just listen to what I had to say and judge accordingly. I would soon know if they thought I was worthy to be there or not.
After being herded from the holding area, and feeling more like an X Factor contestant by the minute, we were ushered into a big room and each of us were given a number from one to ten. We stood in a line opposite a panel of producers and were then told we each had thirty seconds to tell the panel why we thought we should be the next Apprentice.
I was amongst people who ran their own business, most of whom had degrees and all were already in professional positions.
And then there was me.
Part of me thought the panel would laugh at me when it was my turn. I thought they would scoff at the fact I had even had the nerve to walk into the room. I wasn’t the type of person who would spout the usual “fire in my belly” speech everyone else had rehearsed and so I just told them I saw no reason why I couldn’t be the next Apprentice.
Only two out of this first round of ten applicants got through to the next round.
I was one of them.
I had just been honest about who I was and what I wanted from life and, even though I was the oldest candidate there, they must have been curious about this ordinary mother of two standing vulnerably in front of them.
To cut a very long story short, I went through two more rounds of interviews and was told they would be in touch. I knew then I hadn’t got through and, sure enough, they did get in touch but only to say I hadn’t been successful.
But in my eyes, and those of my children and partner, I had been.
I had taken a chance and pursued something I truly believed I would be good at. I didn’t feel my fellow candidates were any better than me, just because they had letters after their name or because they wore a smart suit. I saw no reason why I shouldn’t be there.
I still love the programme, but perhaps I just didn’t brag enough about “Kate Sutton, The Brand.”
Come Wednesday night, I’ll be watching the show again, albeit from behind my cushion, a small part of me a little sad that I didn’t get the opportunity to show what I’m made of.
But there’s plenty of time left to do that.