The Apprentice – Melissa Interview: “Lord Sugar Sees Himself In Baggs..”

If you’ve been watching The Apprentice then Melissa Cohen won’t need any introductions. Unfortunately for all her fans, she got the boot this evening and we managed to nail her down for a couple of minutes to talk about Stuart Baggs, her well publicised skill set and tempering her approach…

So Melissa, do you think you were a bit unlucky to get fired this evening?
I don’t think it’s a matter of luck although obvioulsy I could have performed a lot better in the task. It was Stuart’s first time in the boardroom and he was given a second chance, I think the rule is that if you have a second chance and end up back in the boardroom then time is up for you. But I didn’t get a second chance so I was kind of disappointed by that…

Yeah what was up with that? Why do you think that Lord Sugar decided to save Stuart?
Unfortunately Lord Sugar may think he sees something of himself in Stuart, or maybe it was because he’s so young? I’m not sure, I can’t really second guess Lord Sugar at all..

Who would you have sacked?
Stuart. His sales technique needs substantial work, he’s a very good inventor of ideas but his approach with clients needs vast improvement..

It certainly does. The baby-grows ended up being the winning product, do you blame Stuart for messing up that contract?
Well yeah (laughs) On the back of the fact that it was his rudeness which lost us that deal I thought he should have been sacked…

On the subject of rudeness, you had a few problems shifting the showers didn’t you?
Yes we did, but that appointment with Debenhams was laid on for us and those were the products we had to work with. We either had to phone up and say “we’re not coming” or you do the best with what we had..

Looking back, do you feel there was anything you could have done differently?
I gave it my best shot but there’s always room for improvement. I’d be stupid not to take on board the advice given to me, so since then I have tempered my approach. I’m currently running two businesses so things are going well. One of them is a business consulting firm, if I hadn’t changed my approach I wouldn’t have been able to that, so I do feel like I’ve learned a lot.

A couple of times during the show you mentioned that your ‘skill set’ might have intimidated the other contestants…
I can be an intimidating character and self-confidence is always intimidating, a dominant personality can be intimidating but in big business and in a competitive arena you need to be able to put your point across strongly, so you need to be a dominant character to succeed. Full stop.

In the first episode you seemed very enthusiastic to take charge but let someone else be project manager. Was that a tactical game you were playing?
I wasn’t ready to lead a team at that point and I wanted to see how the land lay. We were going round the table giving our skill sets and although mine was well matched to the task, I decided I wasn’t ready at that time. But Jo did well when she stepped up..

Things didn’t go too well when you were team leader though. You kind of screwed up that presentation…
Errmm… well I wasn’t the only person there, the rest of team was in the room as well. I was doing the pitching and the talking and the costing, pretty much everything at once. But as I said I wasn’t the only person in the room, maybe my delegation skills left a lot to be desired on that ocassion. I should have asked other people to step forward and give of themselves rather than just having them pointing out where I was going wrong.

So who would you tip to win the competition?
Well I can’t really talk about that, but I would like to see Stella do well. I think she’s got a really good skill set, I liked her and she’s got a good head on her shoulders and she’s a pretty cool cucumber! I think she should do pretty well..

So what’s it like being in that boardroom?
It’s hardcore! Really intense. Probably the most intense experience I’ve ever been through. You’re sweating and your heart is pounding and on top of that you’ve got to make sure you speak clearly and stick up for yourself. It was one of the toughest experiences I’ve been through, but it’s cool.

So have you been recognised by the public over the last couple of weeks?
Yeah I have a couple of times, I find the whole situation quite funny to be honest. I think of people on The Apprentice as minor celebrities, I’m not under any delusions, but I think it’s sweet that some people have come up and said hello, I can’t be that much of a monster can I? (laughs)