Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Sir Alan Sugar hires Yasmina Siadatan as new Apprentice

Sir Alan's Apprentice winner: Yasmina Siadatan

Restaurant owner Yasmina Siadatan won a job with Sir Alan Sugar in last night’s shock final of The Apprentice in which Northern Ireland man Ben Clarke made a return appearance.

The 27-year-old Londoner was hired by Sir Alan on what she described as the businessman’s “gut instinct” despite rival Kate Walsh being in a good position to win.

Ms Siadatan said her achievements combined with her mistakes during the series may have given her the crucial edge over Ms Walsh.

In the final episode, the finalists were given a task to create a new brand of chocolates which they had to pitch to a roomful of industry experts, including Waitrose’s chief buyer.

Ms Walsh and her team, which was made up of former contestants Belfast man Ben Clarke, Debra Barr, Kimberley Davis and Rocky Andrews, designed a box of chocolates for couples.

Their box was made up of three ‘shelves’ — one for her, one for him, and one to share. The concept was praised by Sir Alan but he said charging £13 for a box was not commercially viable.

Ms Siadatan’s team, made up of Howard Ebison, Philip Taylor, James McQuillan and Lorraine Tighe, created a brand called ‘Cocoa Electric’ which was designed to ‘shock’ with flavours such as basil and strawberry, and popping candy chilli.

Sir Alan told her the branding and pricing were excellent but the taste — which even caused one model to spit out a chocolate after filming the advert — needed work.

Asked how she felt to have won the coveted job, Ms Siadatan said: “I can't believe it, I am in shock. All those months ago you first apply to try to get on, and here I am, it's amazing.”

On beating Ms Walsh, who had performed well during the series, Ms Siadatan said the mistakes she had made during the series — which included confusing the gross profit with the net profit of her restaurant on her CV — may have endeared her to Sir Alan.

She said: “I don't feel like I've beaten Kate because I feel we both deserved that job, and we feel we just had different qualities and Sir Alan needed my qualities over hers.

“(Sir Alan) described it in a nutshell when he said: ‘I can't put it into words why I chose Yasmina — it was just a gut instinct’, and I think because of the way that I performed, even though I made some quite serious errors as we've seen, I was also able to show him that I exceeded in certain areas. The profit I made in the catering task was the biggest profit he's ever seen on an Apprentice task.

“Maybe I've shown him that even though I've got this real confidence and real strength in some areas, I've also got a side of me that is slightly insecure and slightly unsure and I will make mistakes. But without that side to you I don't think you can ever really excel and succeed.”

Ms Siadatan is now looking forward to starting work with Sir Alan, even though the job is a world away from her restaurant Mya Lacarte in Caversham.



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