The Apprentice: Female Entrepreneurs take the Lead

apprentice womenThe final five contestant of long-running BBC television show, The Apprentice, look a little different this year. As usual, armed with their CVs and business plans, they are getting ready to tackle the notoriously tough interview-round in Monday’s episode. What’s changed is that the majority of the remaining wannabe entrepreneurs are female.

Doctor Leah Totten, cupcake retailer Luisa Zissman and entertainment professional, Francesca MacDuff-Varley all remain in the running for a 50/50 partnership and a £250,000 investment deal from electronics mogul and larger-than-life television personality, Lord Alan Sugar.

With female entrepreneurs reported to be on the rise and the ratio of female to male start-up leaders soaring by almost 30 per cent across the globe, according a report by Forbes Magazine perhaps the state of play as this season of The Apprentice draws to a close could be seen as a microcosm for the business landscape.

While the female contestants all have experience in different business sectors, and variously unusual pasts – Leah is the first doctor ever to appear on The Apprentice, Francesca a classically-trained dancer and Luisa has, controversially, previously posed nude for photographs – all share a ruthless attitude and a determination to succeed.

Though their applications to the program as well as their online profiles are littered with the usual 110 per cent style clichés – “I’m like a dog with a bone”, says Luisa – the programme has become famous for, this year’s female contestants have demonstrated abilities, attitudes and business nous far superior to those of their male counterparts. This was extremely apparent during the latest episode, where the girls were pitted against the boys in a reinvestment task.

Luisa Zissman, who already runs three businesses at the tender age of only 25, is in my book the most likely to take the crown this year, and enter into business with Sugar. She has shown real growth and strength throughout the series, even convincing a competitor to relinquish the title of project manager and handover control of a task to her, when things weren’t going his way.

Join the ranks of successful female business women

Many of the contestants of The Apprentice have achieved success at astoundingly early ages by setting up a company from home. Since most houses now have access to the internet, setting up a ‘bedroom business’ has never been cheaper or easier.

Designate an area of your home for work – not only will this give you enough space, but will put you in the right mind set for work (sorry guys, no laptops on knees infront of the TV!). Make sure to stock up on affordable stationery supplies so you’re in the best possible position for daily tasks. New computers aren’t necessary right away however – work on the same one you use for leisure purposes to start off with, at least until you know what sort of spec and software you’ll most likely need. This, hard work and a good idea is all you need.

A flexible working environment means that prospective business women can juggle childcare, which so often becomes a barrier to a successful career, with their start-up.

Who knows, maybe next year it could be you that’s darkening Alan Sugar’s doorway and dazzling him with your success?


Writing on behalf of office supply superstore, Viking UK – online marketing professional and published business blogger, Maya Verber shares her insight into why the women are making an impact on The Apprentice this year.

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