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Luisa Zissman – came 2nd in the most recent UK The Apprentice programme. For those who aren’t in the know, The Apprentice is when Sir Alan (often pronounced as if it is one word… srallan) takes a group of business wannabes and put them through their paces.
The Apprentice although a reality programme not that dissimilar to the X-Factor gains its popularity through the fact that you see the good, the bad and a lot of the ugly and in this particularly series there was some endearing which was a new experience.
It is the long interview watched by millions and the job is now an investment in your business and a partner in the name and shape of the real Sir Alan. If you don’t know him, well he doesn’t mince his words and when it comes to business he will take prisoners and throw them off board, well so it appears.
This year Luisa was one of the most entertaining candidates. It was a love hate compulsion type of relationship. She was the reason I watched and the reason I wished I didn’t watch too. Confused I was, as normally I steer well away…but hey I was hooked and deep down I was happy.
As it happens I think Luisa should have won, but hey I wasn’t investing so it wasn’t my decision…the girl that did win was some plastic surgery Doctor or something like that Botox lady and thankfully have not seen much about her since. I am sure she will resurface but hopefully not an High Street near me. Something’s just need to be more difficult to access so that they don’t become impulsive decisions, but that is a different story.
When the opportunity to interview Luisa came up I was excited as I really wanted to know was what we saw on TV what we got…plus she was about to launch her Bakers Toolkit…so truly a winner in my eyes!
Me: How much has life changed since The Apprentice?
Luisa: Life has changed massively. I love my life and did anyway. Of course I am thankful I did The Apprentice and because of that I am working with some wonderful charities now and able to give back more. I have a book coming out next year on baking, filming a show. Obviously Bakers Toolkit is launched (now has launched BTW) and I was going to do that anyway but it has made it easier to do so.
Me: Why do you think you were edited to look mean on The Apprentice?
Luisa: I actually think the editing was a fair representation, it isn’t edited to misrepresent people. Thing about me is I don’t mess around, I don’t take s*it. I don’t think I came off badly, I might appear to have been more argumentative and maybe I am but I don’t fluff around people at work, or personally…!
When it comes to business my attitude is my business=my money. We go down, then my neck is on the line.
I did learn how to interact with people more and that it is OK when I am not the boss, it’s OK to sit back and trust others…but it still depends!
Me: Did it hurt you when you saw and still maybe read things about you, or that men seem to be overly focused on your baps?
Luisa: Don’t care about those things. It’s funny and I am quite tongue in cheek anyway!
Me: What is it with the world and strong women who have direction and purpose? It is as if BIG DREAM=unfeminine? (which is BS of course!)
Luisa: I don’t know. It’s shocking men get away with a lot more. It is as if the traditional view let’s men get away with a lot more and that women are defeminized.
But I am in enigma, girly in my private life but not in my business. I like to have that separation, yet we love to dance at work.
Me: What advice would you give to women who themselves are confused about living their dream and going for it and afraid of being called unfeminine?
Luisa: I do believe we have come a long way and while yes there is still a journey for women, we mustn’t forget how long ago things were much tougher but I am not here to be a feminist and man hate or woman hate!
Me: Where do you get your business support from?
Luisa: I have a lot of friends who are successful and offer me advice. I also have 3 investors who I can turn too and I have a good network, 2 of my investors are women. My mum is also a massive support to me and she instilled a lot of confidence in me. My support network is definitely solid.
Me: What are you working on at the moment?
Luisa: Bakers toolkit (launch party was in fact Nov 6th and yes I did go and yes I indulged in cupcakes!). There is some fear about it as I am so in the public eye so it will be a very public launch, and people will be waiting to criticize from within the industry which I fully accept. I suppose it is quite threatening to feel competition.
Me: What is Bakers Toolkit for those that don’t know and where can they check it out?
It is a consumer brand of baking products, professional standards and available through retail, like supermarkets. My aim is to make professional baking at home easy and fun! There is a website but consumers can’t order directly from there but you can find your local (UK) stockist!
Me: Finally, is Sir Alan Sugar really just a cuddly pushover or is he as he is portrayed on the TV?
Luisa: He is definitely not a cuddly pushover! He is a nice person and listens but he doesn’t spend much time with contestants. At the end when it was me (& the woman who went on to win The Apprentice) he spent 121 time with both of us.
That was it – our time had come to an end short and sweet but I left the interview feeling like I really liked Luisa as a human being. I am a sucker for finding reasons to like people anyway but it was more than that.
At her launch, I didn’t feel like her products were for me. I don’t bake but if I did I would want more natural ingredients however in fairness when we got our goodie bag home, the glittery bake stuff got me planning my cake off…!
However Luisa is a woman who for me epitomises the New Paradigm, plays hard, works hard and doesn’t get caught up in the BS of trapping herself into how she has to be to please others or tow a line that says women behave like this. She gets what she wants because she works hard for it, and goes for it in my opinion.
Something women, we could all learn from.