It's time to say goodbye to one of this year's most memorable Apprentice candidates.
Jackie Fast was fired by Lord Sugar in what is sure to go down as the series's most discussed boardroom showdowns, after the tycoon deemed the entrepreneur-turned-author too experienced to become his business partner.
We spoke to the charming candidate about what exactly went down in the shopping channel task, her clashes with Khadija and why she knew she'd eventually be fired for her success outside of the show.
You were the victim of your own success, Jackie.
I know. I was fired for being too good! It was the best way to go.
It’s true. You got a glowing report from everyone, and yet you were fired. It’s almost like you didn’t stand a chance. Did it ever strike you that could happen?
Not entirely. I did think I would be fired for the reason I got fired for, but I thought I’d make it a bit further along in the process. But as Lord Sugar outlined, he really wants that £250,000 to be a life-change for someone. Unfortunately, that’s just not me. There are less experienced candidates in the process who are a better suited to him taking their smaller business and making a business mogul out of them.
Does it make you think that all your hard work was for nothing?
Not at all. In fact, quite the opposite. I’m really thrilled they let me be in the process! I'm somebody who loves being outside of my comfort zone. One of the reasons I sold my last business was because we’d reached the top; we were working with Richard Branson and The Rolling Stones. I couldn’t have made that business any more successful, so the challenge came away from it. I wanted to go through this process and to be challenged in so many different ways – for example, living with 16 people, which was impossible. But it was such a difficult environment and I absolutely loved it. I was lucky to be a part of it really.
You continually got called abrasive throughout the process. Do you think you are?
I think an abrasive person maybe speaks for no reason and likes the sound of their own voice. Am I determined to achieve stuff all the time? Yes. That’s sometimes seen as abrasive by other people who are less assertive than I am.
Do you think your previous experience and headstrong nature intimidated people?
If I’m honest, I don’t think so. I think everybody is very confident in their own right and in a different way. The one thing that I found personally quite enlightening is not knowing anybody’s background. They had no idea who I was or what I’ve done. We all felt we were on an even point. But I wish I intimidated more people! My opinions weren’t heard which is something I’m not used to, so it was a good learning experience for me.
It must be hard to keep your cool when there’s a camera in your face at all times.
You say that but, for me, I just say it how I see it. The emotions I have are written all over my face most of the time. I personally didn’t care. I would never have pretended to be something I’m not. I never once acted differently, but that’s just me.
Would you say you’re happy with how you were edited?
Yeah, everybody loves me (laughs). Historically, you always get candidates who are like, ‘Oh, the editing makes me look like an a**hole!” I totally disagree, especially now that I’ve done it. I’m pretty self-aware of the type of person I am and I think the edit shows everybody, including myself, the way that they are. All the things that came out of my mouth were the things that came out of my mouth. One of the things that Kurran [Pooni] has said post-show is that what you didn’t get to see is how charming I am in person. I think I am quite charming in real life. But I don’t think that the edit showed anything that wasn’t there or wasn’t true. I think to be as outspoken and determined as I am, you need to balance that. I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have today without being able to balance that with being… something else positive (laughs).
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Be honest – did you deploy tactics when pushing Tom into being project manager?
100 per cent no. I know it looks that way, but what you don’t see is we’re all sat there with everyone wanting to be project manager, and everybody’s looking at each other like idiots with blank faces. We have such little time to make a decision, so either say that you want to do it or try to help. I very much, in hindsight, wish I’d pushed harder to be the project manager of this task, but Khadija was very forceful in wanting to be the main presenter and because she was strong-minded, we needed someone who was going to lead the team in a level-headed way. I don’t think Khadija would have taken too kindly to me being project manager. She really liked Tom. That’s why we put him forward: everybody likes him and listens to him, and I think in our group with some of the output that we had, I 100 per cent believed he was the best person for the job. I now wish I didn’t do that. But it was not a tactic at all.
You and Khadija locked heads. Why do you think that is?
We’re both strong personalities. But when you add in the pressure of the show and obviously the fact it’s a competition, not everyone’s going to get along. I think that’s normal. I don’t take any offence to it really.
Do you hold any hard feelings?
No, none at all. I loved it. I really really did. Before I said yes, I thought it could be career suicide. But the producers were like, ‘Everybody who has done it would do it again.’ I went into it very hesitantly, especially knowing the type of person that I am. Now, coming out of it, I would do it in a heartbeat tomorrow if I could. It was so much fun. It was tough, but I love a challenge.
Who are you backing for the win?
Early on, I clocked Sian and Camilla because I worked with them on task three and thought they were amazing. Camilla’s age blows me away – she’s 22 and to have that much composure and tact at that age is amazing. I worked with Daniel on the art task and absolutely loved him. So those are my three favourites.
What’s next for you?
What I’m doing now is Canadian ice wine. Relatively few people in the UK know about what it is and how it’s made. It’s made by leaving grapes on the vine until they freeze which sucks out all the water creating this intense wine. I’m the only British company who imports it. It’s currently available at one Michelin starred restaurant, a drinks wholesaler called Vanquish and is soon to be in a lot more places, hopefully. it’s available online and gets delivered directly to your door and will make an amazing Christmas present.
The Apprentice continues every Wednesday on BBC One at 9pm
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