Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Apprentice girl of Derry Leah Totton: ice maiden or bubbly hotshot?

Leah Totton (left) and Luisa Zissman, the two final candidates in this year's The Apprentice.
Leah Totton (left) and Luisa Zissman, the two final candidates in this year's The Apprentice.
Zoey Harkness, Leah Totton and Joanne Hamilton, pictured on their arrival for the Foyle and Londonderry College annual dinner in the City Hotel. Picture by Maurice Thompson.
Zoey Harkness, Leah Totton and Joanne Hamilton, pictured on their arrival for the Foyle and Londonderry College annual dinner in the City Hotel. Picture by Maurice Thompson.
Natalie Panayi, Zeeshaan Shah, Leah Totton
Natalie Panayi, Zeeshaan Shah, Leah Totton

She speaks 'at a million miles per hour' and has been accused of being cold but Leah Totton is fast ticking every box for business mogul Lord Alan Sugar.

The glamorous 24-year-old doctor from Londonderry has reached the final of The Apprentice, proving she’s got more talent and clout than pout.

She now just has to see off competition from retail entrepreneur Luisa Zissman to get her hands on a £250,000 investment from the business tycoon.

The London-based Derry woman has been the front runner to win the BBC1 show since it began more than 10 weeks ago and it’s looking likely she will secure the partnership with the multi-millionaire to start up a range of facial aesthetics clinics offering non-surgical treatment.

On Wednesday night viewers saw Leah face a grilling from Lord Sugar’s advisors about the merits and ethics of her business plan.

But she knew her figures back to front, deflecting every criticism with style and grace.

Tough-talking business executive Claude Littner told Leah he found her plan very interesting and after an outpouring of information from the young doctor, that she also spoke very quickly.

“You’re a fast talker,” he said.

Littner later gave Lord Sugar a glowing appraisal of Leah.

He told him: “Not only has she got very, very good margins, associated with what she’s doing. I think, Alan, she’s a super-smart woman.”

Media mogul Claudine Collins was critical of Leah’s demeanour, calling her cold, but previous Northern Irish Apprentice candidates have all said she was just being professional.

Collins said: “I found her, out of everyone, the most cold.

“She wants to be taken seriously, so she feels she has to have this kind of like professional air.”

Ben Clarke, Jim Eastwood, James McCullagh and Maria Doran all reached the latter stages or the final of the Apprentice and Young Apprentice competitions, but so far Northern Ireland has yet to produce an overall winner.

As James said last night: “Hopefully it’s fifth time lucky.”

The Apprentice Final, followed by You’re Hired with Dara Ó Briain, is on at 8pm on Wednesday, July 17, |n BBC1

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