Belfast Telegraph

Miss Northern Ireland Cherie Gardiner is ready to take on the world

New Miss Northern Ireland Cherie Gardiner has what it takes to go on and become Miss World.

That's the view of Ulster Apprentice star Ben Clarke who was a judge at the Miss NI gala final at the Europa Hotel earlier this week.

Clarke and co-host of the evening Zoe Salmon, herself a former Miss Northern Ireland, flirted and bantered with each other during an interview for Belfast Telegraph TV.

“Every single one of those girls was absolutely gorgeous. They all had great personalities and they were really fun to work with. But at the end of the day, as Zoe knows, only one person could win — and I genuinely believe we don't just have a Miss NI, we have a Miss World,” he said.

Clarke said he was learning to cope with being in the media spotlight since he had appeared on the Apprentice — one of the biggest shows on BBC1 this year.

“The perks of the job are getting invited by Alison (Campbell, Miss NI organiser) to come and judge Miss NI — and I absolutely love it.

“The whole experience of being on The Apprentice was absolutely incredible. Being catapulted into the public eye was something I never thought I'd be prepared for, and I really wasn't.

“But you take the good with the bad and everything is just absolutely amazing for me at the moment,” he said.

Clarke said he was planning to start up a few companies and had a few media deals on the table.

Video: Clarke and Salmon banter

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Salmon responded: “How did you fit in the judging, you're a busy boy. It's nice to see he makes time for all us Northern Ireland girls!”

Clarke said he was considering the possibility of doing other reality TV shows if offers came in.

Salmon said taking part in ITV's Dancing On Ice tour at the Odyssey Arena had been one of the highlights of her life.

“It was the most amazing thing to learn an Olympic sport and to be taught by Torvill and Dean. I grew up watching figure skating and thought it was amazing.

“But to come to Belfast and to actually get a standing ovation from thousands of people was honestly one of the highlights of my whole life,” she said.

Clarke told Salmon he had voted for her in the competition.

“You were awesome. I thought you were absolutely fantastic,” he said.

Video: Gala final

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