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The Apprentice Insider meets Helen

Ben Rawson-Jones, Blog Editor | 14:34 UK time, Wednesday, 20 July 2011

"It's sort of the analogy of the swan – that you look graceful and calm on top but underneath the water you're fighting furiously to make sure that everybody things you're in control". Apprentice runner-up Helen Milligan was telling the Apprentice Insider about her record-breaking efforts on this year's series, in which she calmly swam her way to nine consecutive task victories. Yet the tide turned in The Final with a much criticised business plan…

"There's a possibility that if I'd have gone with the bakery idea from the start I might have had a better chance of winning," Helen admitted, referring to her last minute proposal. "My initial idea to do an executive assistant service for busy people in the mass market – I knew Lord Sugar wasn't keen on it when he said that he was disappointed with my business idea as soon as I came into the boardroom following the interviews. All I could do was state my second business plan but I think by then it was too late."
Gracious in defeat, Helen suggested why Lord Sugar ultimately plumped for her MyPy collaborator: "I think when it comes down to it Tom has a whole raft of ideas that he can draw on and that was his real key strength". She also spoke of her admiration for one well-known figure that she encountered in The Final – Margaret Mountford. "I think [she was] the toughest interviewer, because you've obviously watched previous series, you've seen what she's like, you want to impress her and you're a bit in awe when you walk in… and you want to do a really good job."
Helen's impressive string of wins came to a halt in the Reinvestment Task, which contained one of the series' most notable talking points. "It was obviously controversial when I tried to take over as Project Manager on the task from Melody," Helen clarified. "As a businessperson, you're naturally inclined to want to save something if it's going wrong. My strategy, however, was flawed. But I do like leading… and like I said, I wished I'd put myself forward to be Project Manager on that task from the start because it was all about organisation. [But] I don't know if it would have changed the result."
The bakery expert may have missed out on Lord Sugar's dough, but Helen emerged from the process with much acclaim and a newfound awareness of herself. "I've really learnt my own strengths and weaknesses," she said. "You really get to see how you perform under pressure and it's great to see how far you can push yourself and how hard you can actually work and how far you can really take the challenge and rise to it."
Watch more from our interview with Helen, including her feelings on the winning streak, whether she has seen Catsize's light yet – and a rubbish joke!

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Let us know your views on Helen's achievements on The Apprentice by clicking on the Comments button above.


  • Comment number 1.

    I thought Helen was extremely unlucky to enter the Apprentice just when it changed formats. Like a lot of people had said before, if it was in the old format she would have walked it. Even so, I do wonder if she had brought her business plan to Lord Sugar to do with food then she would most likely have won. I thought she was a great candidate but at the end of the day Tom was just more creative than she was. Unfortunately the Final episode still was poor!! https://the-apprentice-fired.blogspot.com/ details how poor!

  • Comment number 2.

    Lord Sugar - You're Fired!

    Not really, because we never hired you to promote ergonomics and human factors - which is clearly just as well, as you did not appear to know either how big a problem backache is for most employers in the UK (50 million work days lost annually) or that you personally have a legal obligation to protect the health and wellbeing of your employees through ensuring that they have safe and effective workplaces. Proper risk assessments for all your employees are an important part of this, despite your apparent belief that this would be a step too far.

    Of course, you have made your name and your fortune from spotting good opportunities and we would therefore like to draw your attention (and that of your new business partner, Tom Pellereau) to the Workplace Ergonomics and Productivity Conference and Exhibition in October (https://www.wep2011.org.uk/%29 This event will be a great opportunity to find out more about why workplace productivity is such a key issue for UKplc and how well designed, ergonomically sound workplaces can contribute to this- maybe Tom's chair has a part to play and we would welcome an exhibit.

    By the way, the other reason you would have been fired is that you missed a real trick in not getting Helen and Tom to work together. They could have combined creativity and innovation with drive and determination. And for that reason, I'm out (sorry, wrong TV show).

    Tom Stewart, Past President IEHF, Chairman System Concepts


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