Dashed Apprentice hopeful will ‘never tell a joke again’

The latest contestant to leave The Apprentice said they will “never tell a joke again” after a disastrous pitch led to their elimination from the show.

Fashion designer Bushra Shaikh became the latest person to receive the dreaded firing from Lord Sugar in the BBC One contest’s ninth week as teams Graphene and Vitality were instructed to design recipe kits to pitch to a conference of food brand executives.

But it was a flat reception for Graphene’s gourmet salmon risotto, during an “excruciating” pitch that saw Shaikh dress up as a pepper shaker and crack awkward jokes about Donald Trump.

“I would have loved to have taken that costume home and put it in my room to remind me to never, ever tell a joke again,” the 35-year-old told the Press Association.

Bushra Shaikh (Jim Marks/BBC/PA)

“I am not a stand-up comic, but if I am given something to do I will execute it, and if it doesn’t work then I will learn from it and perhaps not do it again.

“I didn’t think that was grounds to be fired on, for sure. It was a bit cringey watching it back, but it was really fun to do.”

As she faced the boardroom for the first time, Shaikh was criticised by her team-mates for “sitting on the fence”, while Lord Sugar said she had made little contribution throughout her time on the show.

But she said that the whole experience had been “brilliant” and insisted that there was no bad blood behind the scenes.

She said: “That boardroom is intense, it’s scarier than I ever imagined having Lord Sugar sat there in front of me. It was really frightening and I think at one point my palms were really sweating.

“I was trying to be as composed as possible and there were some comments flung at me that I don’t think were fair, but it’s a competition and people do say things they maybe don’t mean at the time because we are all stressed.

“I do still stay in touch with some candidates … I don’t hold grudges. You need to have respect for each other and remember that it is a competition and to not take everything too personally.”

Describing herself as a “glass half full person”, Shaikh, who owns and designs a fashion label creating luxury apparel for Muslim women, said that the show had helped build her confidence and has introduced the idea of a career in media.

“A lot of Asian women can connect with me and I also wear a headscarf, which you don’t get to see much on the television,” she explained.

“We live in a community of so many lovely people that I just wish the TV reflected that more.

“Going into the process, my inspiration was taken from 2015 Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain. After seeing how much she has achieved, I would love to do something along the same kind of lines, and if she came to me with a proposition, I would be so thrilled to do that.”

Wednesday night’s show saw success for Harrison Jones as he took on his first role as project manager with Team Vitality, opting for a healthy take on a chicken curry.

While the branding was lacklustre, the team delivered a successful pitch, winning the challenge and a circus-themed feast treat from Lord Sugar.

Meanwhile, Graphene’s Elizabeth McKenna narrowly avoided elimination after commandeering the cooking, with Lord Sugar saying that her enthusiasm was over the top and that “not even Oliver Twist would ask for more” of her dish.

:: The Apprentice continues on BBC One at 9pm on Wednesday.


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