What to do if ... you go on a reality TV show

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Lorraine Tighe, 37, was a contestant on series five of the BBC's 'The Apprentice'. She received much tabloid attention for her personal life. She came fourth in the competition

"I decided to enter The Apprentice because I'd got divorced and had then been out of the workforce for nine years looking after my daughters, one of whom had been sick with meningitis. My background was in sales, so I had some skills that were transferable to the show, and I thought it was a great opportunity to get back up the career ladder.

"It was the most terrifying experience of my life. The tasks are filmed back to back, so you get little sleep and have a constant fear of the next task. I didn't feel I needed to get too pally with anyone, and I don't think any of the others felt they did either. That's the mindset you have to have.

"I was totally myself, but I wouldn't advise it. To get to the later stages, you need to be extremely manipulative, and often it's not right to come out and say what you think. For instance, I told Sir Alan I was a slow-burner. I was just saying that in my twenties I was sharp as a razor-blade and I can't be as sharp as that now, but that doesn't mean to say I'm stupid: when I get it, I get it. He said he had no time for slow-burners but I thought,'What do you want, a scatter-gun approach?'

"I hated the fame that came with it. My experience of the press ruined it for me. The News of the World got a story about an ex-partner [alleging that he and Lorraine were swingers] and twisted it on me. I became fodder for the tabloids and it caused me to become quite ill, for two or three months. Some of the comments written about me on the internet were really over the top, too – 'I want to smash her face in she's so ugly.' I was naïve. Anyone going on TV should remember it's all about ratings and not about individuals.

"After the show I had to have about four or five months' break from work, and stayed completely away from any exposure, and went for long walks and rebuilt my life. For the first time, I realised a £100,000 job is not the most important thing in my life, and that I didn't need to prove myself any more. I'm about to start a new job for a charity, Business and Education London South, which encourages vulnerable young people to stay in education. I'm taking a 60 per cent pay cut and for the first time in my life I think I'm going to be really happy.

"For 20 years, I was frustrated about not achieving what I wanted to, but now I'm being, rather than going. In that respect, going on TV was an invaluable lesson. When you are on a show like this and get to the later stages, you think you're going to get something out of it, and that's not the case. I thought I'd get hundreds of job interviews and that didn't happen. I can cope with it because I'm older and my daughters are the most important things to me, but I know other contestants have experienced an incredible comedown."