CAROLINE Downey has told how appearing on 'Celebrity Apprentice' became a welcome distraction during her marriage breakdown to Denis Desmond.
The MCD promoter revealed last week that she and her businessman husband, who have been one of the country's most high profile couples for the past 32 years, separated 18 months ago. The marriage collapsed following the revelation that Desmond had had an affair.
The estranged pair live apart but have remained friends and colleagues.
Mother-of-three Downey steps into the no-nonsense role made famous by Donald Trump and Alan Sugar next week. The 52-year-old philanthropist told the Irish Independent that the intensive production schedule played a part in helping take her mind off difficulties in her personal life.
Downey spent four weeks filming with the show's contestants, which included Boyzone's Mikey Graham, 'Fair City' actor Maclean Burke and model Daniella Moyles, in July.
She admitted she finds it "horrendous" watching herself on screen, after building a career behind the scenes.
"It's strange, it's odd for me. I'm a producer so am usually backstage," she said, adding that she agreed to take part in 'Celebrity Apprentice' because the 10 contestants compete to win €25,000 for charity.
Irish Independent columnist O'Donnell said that her life had to be "shelved" while the programme was in production.
"I was surprised at the intensity of making the six programmes in three weeks," she added.
"By the end we were all totally wrecked. So much so that I can't actually remember a lot of it."
The TV3 six-part series begins on September 23.