LIMERICK businessman Maurice O’Callaghan - who finished fourth in this year’s series of the Apprentice - has revealed none of the finalists really wanted to give half their business away.
Maurice – who until recently worked as a guest relations manager in the Savoy Hotel – missed out on a €200,000 investment from Bill Cullen on the hit TV3 show.
In the final, he presented proposals for a nutritious restaurant. But when pushed, he was not able to give an average calorie count of his meals, nor could he name his signature dish.
It was this which effectively sealed his fate, with Cullen giving him his marching orders ahead of fellow finalists Joanne Sweeney-Bourke, and Noel Rowland. Eugene Heary ultimately won the investment.
But Maurice has revealed that none of the finalists were that keen to give away so much of their own companies.
Maurice admitted that he was joking with his fellow finalists on the prize, offering it to one another.
“We realised the whole show is for entertainment purposes, and giving away 49 per cent [of your company] just for the contacts was difficult,” he said.
The 16 contestants, drawn from business backgrounds across the country, were seeking to secure a package worth €200,000, and a partnership with Dr Cullen.
But Maurice said: “We knew that the prize wasn’t really this. When you break it down, the services prize of €100,000 was a figure plucked out of the sky. The marketing contract, the recruitment contract, the transport and communications contract. What are these worth? Three hours, 100 hours? Once the cameras are rolling, they will get involved, now the cameras are off, I would be interested to see how these prizes materialise,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Despite this, the successful businessman did take some positives from the show.
He felt that up until the closing weeks, Dr Cullen was hard on him in the long boardroom scenes (the early scenes took more than 12 hours to complete).
“In week 11, he finally came out and said he saw a lot in me, and this was why I survived so far. I think he was trying to ignite some passion in me for one thing. But I love a number of things. I am an all rounder, but I am not passionate about one sole thing,” he explained.
With 12 weeks of taking part in a variety of tasks from guerilla marketing to poster campaigns, Maurice says the biggest thing he has learnt to do is manage his time.
“Anything is doable in whatever time you have, no matter what you might say. There is always enough time, it just depends on how you use it, and what you are looking for,” he said.
One aspect of the Apprentice that is much commented upon is the strong product placement, with most parts of the show sponsored.
This included the weekly prize, which Maurice felt became “a downfall” after a while.
“If you won, you went out with cameras, and you had to do everything ten times. So it was another day of work, and you were also drinking. The losing team relaxed at home, so it got to the stage where you enjoyed not having the prize - apart from when they were in Lanzarote, and we were stuck at home!”.
Despite the ‘setback’ of missing out on an investment with Dr Cullen, Maurice remains positive. He is still planning on competing his degree at the Kemmy Business School, while he has pledged to get involved with television again - although not on a reality show!
“There are a couple of avenues open to me. I am going to try and get a job in a multi-national organisation in relation to client management and relationship building. Then there is an avenue with the Tourism Board of Ireland. My Master’s thesis was done on tourism. I would like to do consultancy in customer relations,” he said.