By Jonathan Davies
The horrible grey, rainy, windy scene of Cardiff Bay was a far cry from the glitz and glamour of the television screen. But after the first episode of BBC's The Apprentice last night (Tuesday), I caught up with Alex Mills, a contestant from last year's series.
"What were your thoughts about the first task?" I asked Alex.
"The first episode of The Apprentice is always a little bit of a panic," Alex explained. "Usually you've got 16, this time there's 20 and everyone is basically scrapping around, they've never done it before, so they haven't got a clue what they're doing in the beginning. I've done it and it literally is a scrap."
The first task rarely shows up anyone that stands out as a potential winner. And that was certainly the case for Alex. Sarah caught the eye of the Welshman, but not for the right reasons.
Sarah Dales, project manager of Team Decadence (Lord Sugar made them change it before the next task which airs tonight on BBC One at 9pm), said that “Most people will buy from females because females look more attractive" before demanding her all-female team wear short skirts, high heels and plenty of make up.
"What she said there is an absolute zinger as far as TV is concerned, so they are going to include it," Alex laughed as he said it.
"I don't know whether she's coming across as serious or whether she's coming across as a little bit tongue-in-cheek. But she shouldn't have said it, should've known better for the fact that there are TV teams around her."
Business or entertainment?
Business people have long criticised The Apprentice, arguing that it's not about business and that the candidates are vying for fame. And Alex was clearly under no illusion that the show isn't entirely business focused.
"It's not about business," he said. "The thing is with The Apprentice is that it's a business themed entertainment show.
"There are restrictions they put on the programme in order to make it fair, yes, however, in the real world of business there aren't set restrictions like there are on the programme."
Even though Alex agrees with the view that The Apprentice isn't 100% about business, he praised it for inspiring potential entrepreneurs and getting business 'out there'.
"It still gets the idea of running your own business, creating your own company out there into the British public, which I can't turn down on it...as long as it gets people interested in business, that's all that matters."
Did it benefit Alex?
After leaving The Apprentice, Alex turned his full attention to launching his business, Dynamo Cover, a specialist cycling insurance provider.
Hearing Alex talk quite openly and frankly about the programme, I wanted to see how he feels his time on the show helped him grow as a business person.
"Do you think you came away a better business person?" I asked.
"I haven't changed anything, I'm the same person I was."
Alex praised The Apprentice as an experience which gets a large group of people from all walks of life to sit down and work together. But there wasn't "the one massive lesson", he admitted.
"Sugar did say 'stick to something' - okay, that's very good...but it was stuff I already know."
From reading Alex's comments, you might be sat there reading this think that he regrets his time on The Apprentice. But that isn't the case.
"You can't regret anything you've done in life. You've just got to take what you've done and learn from it. If it wasn't right for you, it wasn't right for you; just learn not to do it again," Alex said.
He did, however, admit that he believes he would've enjoyed the process a bit more if he'd previously watched the show and had been a fan. "I was very, very fortunate to get on the programme and it was a great experience to go in there. But possible one I think a fan of the show would've maybe enjoyed a little bit more."
"If anyone wants to have a go, have a go."
Business in Wales
During his time on the show, Alex was very vocal about the fact that he is Welsh and made it clear he was proud of it. But in 10 years of The Apprentice, Alex is the only Welsh candidate. And that is something that worries him.
"Maybe there's something with Welsh people, that they don't quite have the self belief that they're good enough . If we're good at business, we should shout out about it ."
"As well as that, I think Wales is afraid of failure. Sometimes you get people that don't want to come back (from filming The Apprentice) and be an embarrassment. They don't want everyone to be taking the mick of out them. That's something Welsh people are going to have to get over, because if you want to go anywhere in life you need to get rid of that mentality."
One thing I gauged from Alex's answers, some of which aren't seen above, is that he is a very passionate businessmen. And one that is keen to help drive entrepreneurship in the UK.
The term "wannabe" is often used to describe the show's candidates. But Alex is under no illusions that The Apprentice is anything but "business themed entertainment". One thing is for sure, he is a serious businessman.
The second episode of The Apprentice airs tonight (Wednesday) at 9pm on BBC One. You can join in the conversation with us on Twitter @freshbusiness.
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