Pamela Laird, the Dublin entrepreneur who was eliminated from BBC’s The Apprentice last week, talks to David Hennessy about what she got from the experience and who she thinks will win tonight’s final.
Tonight recruitment company owner Scarlett Allen-Horton and artisan bakery owner Carina Lepore go head to head for Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment in the final of BBC’s The Apprentice. Dubliner Pamela Laird missed out on the final by the narrowest of margins, being the final person to be eliminated leaving just the two finalists. Pamela told The Irish World: “It’s one of those things where genuinely both girls extremely deserve the win. I would be happy for either of them to win. Of course Carina’s my best friend so I would have to say she’s my preference but there will be no disappointment no matter who wins tonight from my perspective.”
Pamela, from Terenure in Dublin, told us what it was like to be narrowly denied a place in tonight’s final: “You do kind of have that feeling of falling at the last hurdle. But if I go back to how I felt in that moment when it was the three of us and he sent us out so he could deliberate, at that stage I realised Scarlett, Carina, myself: We all have established businesses. We are all doing pretty well. We’re in profit and we’re in completely different industries. In that moment I tried to take a minute and think, ‘Actually none of us are really comparable in that sense’.
“If you want to invest in recruitment or you want to invest in a bakery or you want to invest in cosmetics, I couldn’t take it personally at that stage. It did feel like he obviously feels more aligned with the girls’ businesses and I would rather my business partner would be really dedicated and committed so from that respect I did feel that I went at the right time.”
Pamela started the cosmetic brand, Moxi Loves and has been successful in getting her beauty products into leading retailers. Last week’s interview stage saw Linda Plant produce similar products to those of Moxi Loves implying Pamela had copied them: “They do a deep dive and Linda obviously did her homework. From my perspective sometimes it can be unfair, I’m not in possession of all the facts at that stage but it’s a valid thing for them to point out.
“That particular thing is not something I’m moving forward with as a brand anyway. There are copycats all over the place. I launched that product into Boots, Primark, none of my buyers had ever come across it before so at least in the markets that I was exporting into, in Germany as well, that wasn’t on sale there so I actually don’t know where Linda found it. But look, you’re expecting them to be hard and to come up with things and to dig deep. If that was all that she could come up with, I’m not that disappointed.”
Pamela won an impressive eight tasks on the show and although she missed out on Lord Sugar’s investment, she has had numerous offers from people who want to invest in her business: “I’m extremely fortunate. I think my business came across quite well in that particular episode albeit challenged in every way but at the same time, people can see we are a successful business, we are trading into some great stores at the moment and the potential is there. I’m over the moon to think people really see the value and I’m absolutely delighted about what the future holds.
“It’s a massive risk because of course up until week eleven, no one gets a chance to see your business. It’s really all about you as a person. We’ve seen how that can go wrong for people.
“I was really fortunate that I came across as I hope I am which is very level headed. I didn’t really get involved in the drama and I think that stood to me quite well because people seemed to respond quite well to that: Just a bit of normality, I suppose.
“I’m not in it for the fame, I’m definitely in it for my business. In week eleven when it was the interviews, then my brand got the focus which is what I’ve been wanting from day one because I’m usually hiding behind my brand. That’s how I normally play it. It was great for people to finally see what it is I actually do in the real world.
“The response has been brilliant. I definitely gained nothing negative from the show, that’s for sure.”
One of the lessons Pamela took from the intensive process was the value and capability of teamwork: “I’m an only child. I’m a solo entrepreneur. It’s a very lonely road and I think you get so used to assuming you are the person that needs to do it all and actually working in teams with other really intelligent, bright business people has just allowed me to feel how much you can achieve as a team is a lot more than you can do alone. Obviously part of my business plan was growing a team but now more than ever I want that to be at the forefront of what we do as a business.”
Although the boardroom discussions can get quite heated, Pamela has no hard feelings about anything: “Obviously it can be tough. People say things and they don’t necessarily mean them but I feel that anything I’ve said has been quite fair and anything said to me, I feel, has been quite fair. You have to take it as what it is on that particular task. Was that how it was? And if it was, you can’t have any hard feelings.
“Most of us are extremely close and really good friends so we would never take it to heart. Even when Dean went, he said, ‘You know what? It was kind of my time to go’. There is that real nice feeling of, ‘It was my time and I don’t blame anyone else’. That’s kind of a great attitude to have.”
Not only does Pamela intend keeping in touch with her fellow candidates, she also plans on entertaining Lord Sugar when he visits to Dublin. She tells us laughing: “I hear Lord Sugar is coming to the Pendulum Summit in January so absolutely I’ll take him for a Guinness. I’ll show him how it’s done in Ireland. I hear this is his first time to Dublin. It would be rude not to.”
The final of The Apprentice is on BBC1 tonight.