Claire Young: ‘Rottweiler’ of The Apprentice

Runner-up on The Apprentice Claire Young discusses being fired by Alan Sugar, turning down a job with Karren Brady and her new company Elegant Venues.

Dubbed ‘The Rottweiler’ on The Apprentice last year because of her aggressive selling and loud mouth, Young admits to being upset when she came second to winner Lee McQueen. ‘As a competitive person I was very disappointed,’ she says. ‘But things work out for the best.’

‘Being on The Apprentice was fantastic experience. Sir Alan probably recognised that I didn’t need to work for him. He said to me that he didn’t think I was an apprentice.’

Other female ex contestants of the show such as Saira Khan and Karen Bremner have complained that Sir Alan has an outdated attitude when it comes to employing women. Does Young think this may have influenced his decision not to hire her?

‘Sir Alan has a certain type of employee that he likes. It doesn’t matter if they are male or female. I don’t think he’s sexist, he just knows what’s going to work in his office and what isn’t and I’m not going to question that. When you look at the people who didn’t win, we’re all quite articulate and outgoing. Lee and I are chalk and cheese. I got really stuck in and didn’t keep my mouth shut like everyone else.’

Young was offered a job with Birmingham FC managing director Karren Brady after the series ended – following Brady’s announcement on the show that if Sir Alan didn’t hire her she would. However, Young turned down the lucrative position to start her own business instead.

‘I always wanted my own business. I’d worked for three big blue chip companies before The Apprentice. I was tempted to play it safe, but because I was going to turn 30 soon I decided that now was the right time.’

Young started a business consultancy offering advice to retailers, but has now shifted focus onto her newly launched wedding hospitality company Elegant Venues.

‘Because the local press has been receptive we’ve managed to generate a lot of publicity. So being able to piggyback the company onto my fame has probably saved us £3,000 a month in PR,’ she says.

‘However, in some ways having been on The Apprentice has been a hindrance. For example, being in a business meeting when everyone just wants to talk about what Alan Sugar is like. But generally it’s ok – we chat about it for five minutes and then get on with the business.’

Among her other projects, Young also does media work. Most recently she has been asked to be one of the judges for the BT Business Essence of Entrepreneur campaign. It’s something she believes will be popular because more people are getting interested in business. ‘I do think entrepreneurialism is becoming more fashionable due to shows like The Apprentice and Dragons Den,’ she adds.

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The Apprentice

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