STEVE Rayner’s biggest challenge in recent times was not winning The Apprentice – and a contract from Renault’s Bill Cullen worth €100,000 per annum – but in keeping his windfall a secret.
Last night, TV3 viewers watched the final instalment in which 30-year-old Steve, who lives in Skibbereen with his fiancee and two children, walked away with the accolade with the inimitable words from Bill Cullen “you’re hired”.
The relief on his face when he was declared the winner was also down to he fact that he knew since the end of July, when the filming of the competition heats was wound up, that he was the winner.
“It was very hard to keep it under wraps, but I did tell my fiancee,” he said.
“Of course people would come up and ask me how I thought it would end up, but I just had to pass those questions off as best I could,” he explained.
All through the competition the support from the people of west Cork had been tremendous.
“I have to say I was a bit shaken when I first learned that I had won and now I am very relieved it’s all over.”
As well as looking forward to the many parties being organised by family and friends in his honour, Steve said he was especially looking forward to his move to Dublin to take up his new job with Bill Cullen in January.
“My salary will be €100,000 for the year, not bad in these recessionary times, but for me it’s not going to be about the money. What I’m really looking forward to is the experience and what I can learn from working with Bill,” he said.
Bill said to the winner: “The biggest thing that has impressed me about you is your integrity, is the way you’re able to get on with people and that’s essential when we’re got the different organisations we’re involved in, it’s a pretty unique talent and you have it naturally. So I look forward to welcoming you on board.”
While his parents are from west Cork, Steve moved from Britain to Ireland in 2005 to look after his grandparents.
“But winning The Apprentice is going to be life changing for me,” he said.
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