The Apprentice: Roisin Hogan fired one week before series finale
Irish contestant Roisin Hogan was one of three finalists to be fired by Lord Alan Sugar in the semi-final of The Apprentice.
The 33-year-old former accountant faced the infamous 'interview' episode, having made it to the final five from a group of 20 candidates, all vying to become Sugar's business partner and win a £250,000 investment in their burgeoning business.
Although Roisin's skills and abilities were praised, her business plan, which revolved around healthy food products, failed to light Lord Sugar's fire and she faced the 'You're fired' finger along with Solomon Akhtar and Daniel Lassman.
Speaking to Independent.ie, Roisin reveals it was a 'bittersweet' time to leave the show, just one week before the final, which will now see the formidable Bianca Miller face-off with Mark Wright.
"It’s definitely bittersweet," she says. "It’s been such a great and crazy journey. It was a really hard way to go but at the same time it was the right way for me to go, especially for me and my business. I don’t think Lord Sugar and I were the right match."
Roisin, who hails from Sandymount in Dublin and is married to Darragh O'Dea, describes the pressure and stress of the interview episode, in which she was grilled by Lord Sugar's four advisors, on camera, as "unbelievable".
"I watch the show, I’m a fan of the show, and I thought I knew what to expect but it’s 100 times worse," she says.
"I’m walking towards Claude [Littner] on jelly legs not knowing should I put up my hand to shake his hand or will he refuse to shake my hand and then I sit down and there are laser beams focusing on me.
"It’s petrifying. It’s 100 times worse than watching it on TV. But now I’ve done that I feel like I can do anything!"
Coming face to face with the rather gruff Lord Sugar was also a surreal experience.
"What you see is what you get and what you see on TV is exactly what Lord Sugar is like," she says. "There’s no charade. He does point his fingers, he does curse, he does tell you to shut up. The first time I saw him I was like, this is so surreal. I can’t believe I’m sitting here opposite Lord Sugar."
Throughout the series of tasks Roisin, used to a corporate environment as an accountant, got to flex her creative muscles by presenting a YouTube channel, buying diamonds, making desserts, and creating board games.
"I didn’t know I had that creativity. It’s actually been very exciting," she says. She also says she wouldn't rule out a career in TV.
"I would definitely keep all my options open," she says. "That would be amazing but I think to be honest that’s a dream world. I don’t think it’s reality."
Aside from the tasks, there was also a group of equally ambitious and determined candidates to contend with off camera.
"It was tough because you’re living with competitors and it’s a really weird situation anyway. But I got on super well with Katie, she’s a superstar. We shared a room. She’s full of common sense and really sweet and just a fabulous girl," gushes Roisin.
"And I really liked Bianca and Mark and Felipe but I struggled with James on occasion. He proved to be a real challenge and difficult to work with at times. His heart is in the right place and he’s full of enthusiasm and passion and just wants to succeed but when things go wrong he goes do the dark side, rather than being calmer and more considered. He really clashed with my style. We fell foul of each other."
Far from daunted by her rejection by Lord Sugar, Roisin has bounced back by going into business with a food manufacturer based in Drogheda to make her own line of healthy noodles called 'Nudels by Roisin' which she hopes to have on the shelves by February or March next year.
One of the criticisms of her business plan on the show was the existence of a similar product, about which Roisin was unaware, and which was presented to her during one interview. It left her speechless.
"I think my face says it all," she laughs. "But as I subsequently found out it’s a French product and you can only get it online from France. The researchers did their work behind the scenes! It really doesn’t change anything though. At the time I was caught off guard and it really throws you. But it doesn’t really make a different for me or ‘Nudels’."
As for the winner, Roisin would like Bianca to win but thinks Mark will pip her at the post.
"First of all, I’m so fond of them both. They’re both credible, smart people. I think Mark is going to win because he’s really hungry for it and his product is more in Lord Sugar’s area," she says.
"I think Bianca should win because, first of all she’s a great candidate, and when she was discussing her business plan in the boardroom I was leaning forward thinking, ‘Yeah, I’d buy those. It’s a great idea.’ Maybe it’s just me, as a woman, I can appreciate the great idea that it is."
She adds, "I think the women were particularly well represented this year and it’s great to see. I’m really glad to see Bianca in the final."