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Monday 19 February 2018

Bill Cullen’s tears as he reveals brother (54) died from stress of car business collapse

Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

BUSINESSMAN Bill Cullen was moved to tears on live TV this morning as he discussed the sudden death of his brother.

The former ‘Apprentice’ boss was appearing on TV3’s Ireland:AM this morning with partner Jackie Lavin to discuss his comeback to the car business.

The businessman saw his Renault empire go into receivership in 2012 as the recession badly hit the industry.

Shortly afterwards the couple's five-star Muckross Hotel in Killarney also entered receivership.

Despite seeing an empire he had worked all his life to build collapse around him, the 72-year-old said it was the loss of his brother that hit him hardest.

His 54-year-old brother Aiden died in October 2012 of a suspected massive heart attack.

His sister Rita died just a month later at her home in Florida.

When asked by host Sinead Desmond whether he took the collapse of his business as a personal failure, he said:

“No, I don't take it as a personal failure. I could blame myself for doing things I shouldn't have done, which was giving the banks everything we had and giving personal guarantees to the bank... The bigger thing was the death of my sister and brother”, he said, before choking up.

Partner Jackie stepped as Bill composed himself: “I’ll give you a minute there. His brother died just a week after the business was taken from serious stress, he just had a heart attack at home one evening, that's Bill's youngest brother, he was only 54 and he left a widow and two lovely girls.  That put things in perspective."

After composing himself, Bill said: “The stress was just too much, he couldn’t take it. He was going to inherit the business he was running for me in Swords. That's what killed him."

Bill Cullen and Jackie Lavin

Host Sinead asked how Bill survived the stress of the business collapsing, and he praised partner Jackie as well as making sure he keeps in shape.

The couple also revealed that despite what people may have thought, they did not have large amounts of cash stashed away for a rainy day.

“The truth of the matter is we put everything into the business. Bill has never made money for himself to hold, it was always put into the business", Jackie said.

Bill added: “You don’t work for money, you work for your business. We all got caught in what happened.”

Mother-of-two Jackie has previously discussed how she was even willing to give up personal possessions in the name of survival.

"My whole focus in 2013 was to get a fund together," she said. "I sold pieces of furniture that were dear to me, I sold artwork of mine and I borrowed from family members.

"There were no Picassos under the bed or anything, but it all amounted to something. Some presents were sold too, privately."

You can watch the full interview from this morning's show on the TV3 website by clicking here.

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