It's been a tumultuous few weeks for Apprentice candidate Tom Bunday, whose luck finally ran out in the latest episode of the BBC competition.
Having failed as project manager for the third time running in the show's shopping channel task, Lord Sugar called time on the 28-year-old's time on the show, firing him on the spot.
We spoke to the tree surgery business owner about the tycoon's snap decision, why he should have played the game more tactically and whether or not Jackie pushed him under the bus.
How are you feeling about being fired so close to the final?
You know what? It’s been crazy. I haven’t even thought about it, but it's been fun.
Is there a sense of catharsis now that the episode's out there?
Yes and no. I think that all of us enjoy watching the episodes, but it was also nerve-wracking, especially at the beginning. There’s only so much editing time that [the producers] have, so everyone was quite worried about how they’re going to be portrayed. I was certainly very worried because I’ve got a business with large clients, that I might not come across well. But luckily, for the majority of it, they’ve shown me for who I am.
When your team lost, did it cross your mind that you'd be fired on the spot?
Of course it did. I knew the position I had unfortunately gotten myself into. I was in a position that if I lost, I was going. It’s as simple as that. I think the reason I made it through two tasks having lost as project manager because I think Lord Sugar understood what I had contributed to the tasks - it’s where I wasn’t where things actually failed. He knew I was a strong contender but it was just unfortunate that in this task, I was in a position where I couldn’t continue.
There was a lot of boardroom talk about Jackie being tactical in electing you as project manager. Did you feel pressured into accepting the role?
I think there’s so much going on that I didn’t even care if she did have that on her mind or not. I knew that in this task, whether I was project manager or not, I’d be going if we lost. So I wanted to put myself in a position where everyone else felt comfortable they could work to the best of their ability which is why I put myself forward. It was voluntarily, but people forget that it’s a game. I hold no grudges.
Is there anything you could have done differently to secure the win in this task?
If I’m being totally honest, if I hadn’t had been project manager twice before, I wouldn’t have been in a position to get fired. It might have been more tactical to step back and not take that role. I should have supported the team just as much as I would have done in that role anyway. I think that would have probably secured me a spot in the final.
Lord Sugar obviously saw something in you, else he would have fired you weeks ago. Why was he willing you to succeed, in particular?
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Luckily by the ninth week, he has an understanding - especially from Karren and Claude - as to what we’re about. People can try to be manipulative or put on a front, but when you’re in this extreme situation at this point in the process, the true you comes through. I have been successful in business and I think I have what it takes to be successful on a large scale. I also have a very strong business plan where I can make a lot of money. I think he saw that and he knew I had made money from having no money, and respected that because that’s where he came from.
Is he a hero of yours?
It’s hard because I’ve had people ask that, but the way I’ve worked my whole life is to do it all on my own and take snippets of advice from different people. It’s not one person I follow because if you do, you’re going in their path and not your own. I respect him - even more so after going through this process.
It's been a pretty weak year for the guys. Why is that? The women candidates seem stronger than ever.
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Daniel and I got on from the beginning and had a chat between us and could see we were the two strongest males in this process. But I certainly thought - and did say to him - as an average the women are a lot stronger this year. We could see it was going to pan out with a lot more females at the end than males.
Who are you backing for the win?
Daniel’s my boy. I’ve got a lot of time for him. I think he’s got what it takes, even though he’s not made a business yet. I’d back him. It’s hard to say if he will win, because there are a few people left who still have that chance, but I’d say that he’s certainly a frontrunner.
If you’d have been given the chance, who would you have brought back into the boardroom?
I think I would have looked at it a different way: who wouldn’t I have brought in? I think that would've been Camilla because she was quite calm on the other side of the phone [during the task], and spoke sense. So I would have brought back Khadija and Jackie.
Were you surprised when you heard it was Jackie to be fired after you?
I wasn’t surprised. I didn’t think Camilla was going and Khadija has got a lot going for her, despite showing some weaknesses along the way. Jackie, on the other hand, has shown she’s strong but to the point where it can work against her. It could have gone either way.
My business happened for me at a young age and grew quickly, and the reason why it works is because I’m very system and process-oriented. So I’ve created a generic software tool so that other businesses can use it to grow in a short timeframe and actually manage their staff and business. Next year, I’m going to begin promoting that software and push the awareness of how it can be so beneficial.
The Apprentice continues every Wednesday on BBC One at 9pm
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