The Apprentice finalist Rochelle Anthony, who dubbed herself the Kim Kardashian of the business world ahead of the series, has said the “tongue-in-cheek” comment was a “win-win”.
The 35-year-old hair guru will battle it out in the final of the BBC One reality show on Thursday evening against boxing gym owner Marnie Swindells, with both vying to win a £250,000 investment from Lord Alan Sugar for their respective businesses.
Bedfordshire salon owner Anthony reflected on her first impressions on the show, having made the final two following weeks of tasks which saw Lord Sugar whittle down 18 contestants.
“I think a lot of people took that wrong, but it just did me wonders because I think the girls that resonated with me were the girls that maybe look like me and are into hair (and) make-up.
“But, slowly, I think I actually turned the public’s opinion around and they thought ‘She’s not an airhead, she’s actually got a bit about her’.
“It was a win-win for me because it was a very tongue-in-cheek comment and I think that just showcased who I am, I don’t really take myself too seriously. It has actually been really well received.”
Anthony said securing a spot in the final two of The Apprentice shows “you can wear whatever you like, it’s your body, it’s your life, and you can still be successful in business”.
She told PA: “I’ve had obviously the odd troll here and there but I’m quite trigger-happy with the block button.
“I always knew I was going to get judgement initially, because I’m in the hair and beauty industry and it all comes part and parcel with the job.”
Anthony also spoke about the 17th series of the show having an all-female semi-final for a second year in a row.
She said: “I know that there’s been a few comments going around that ‘the BBC are so woke’ and ‘isn’t it coincidental’ but actually I think, if it had been the other way round, and it was an all-male final, no-one would say anything.
“I love the fact that it’s all about girl power. So I’m proud to be there with women stood by my side. It just shows that women are to be taken seriously in business, because we know what we’re doing as well. The roles have reversed.”
Fellow finalist Swindells, who is a court advocate and gold medal-winning boxer from London, also said it was “amazing” to have an all-female semi-final.
“From a personal perspective, it was really good to see and it was so good to share that moment with those girls after the journey we’ve had.
“We didn’t get off to the best start in the first week and I think Lord Sugar said we were one of the worst groups of women he’d ever had so it was a bit of a full turn-around moment and we got our time to shine at the end.”
The 28-year-old also said her background in sport had helped her to battle each round of tasks and fight to make it through to the final.
She told PA: “Boxing is such a gutsy sport and, in order to get in the ring, you have to put it all on the line and literally fight for it.
“There’s definitely a big transfer there to being in the boardroom and just putting everything on the line and really going after what you want.
“I think boxing makes you fearless. If you can get in there and have a fight in front of 400 people, there’s not much I don’t think you can’t do.”
She told PA: “From a personal point of view, it’s almost hard to comprehend the fact that I’m even in the final. I come from a background that is so distant from this world of wealth and success and everything that Lord Sugar is, so it feels surreal.
“I grew up in a caravan up north. My mum was a cleaner. I’m the first person in my family to go to university and I’ve really made a big effort to try and get away from that world and set a new life for myself.
“Getting on to the show alone was surreal; to have got this far among so many talented, incredible, inspiring candidates, to be in that last two is the stuff that dreams are made of.”
– The Apprentice final airs on Thursday March 23 at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.