12 Oct 2014

I've been firing people since I was 13, says wannabe Apprentice Ella Bitton

The 23-year-old interior designer has so far beaten off 30,000 applicants to make the final 20 in the latest series of the BBC One show, which starts on Tuesday at 9pm.
Her father, Paul Bitton, groomed her for success from a young age. He has built up a successful bathroom company since moving to the UK from France 40 years ago. “From a young age my father involved me in hiring and firing people from the business,” she said.
“When I was 13, I spent a week’s work experience at the family business helping to assess which employees to keep or fire when we were moving to a new showroom and had to restructure the team.”
She believes this hands-on approach gave her an edge going into The Apprentice, saying: “My dad has been my inspiration and the business has always been my home. I would go straight from school to the office on a daily basis. It became second nature to be there.”
Her hard work has paid off. “When I was 16 I went to Harrods and talked to Mohamed Al Fayed about our business taking on a new bathroom concession in the store.”
After a phone call to her father to check her credentials, Ella Jade Interiors was granted a 300 square metre concession on the second floor of the iconic department store. This was followed by the opening of showrooms in Portman Square and Hampstead, both in London.
She said: “I find successful businessmen fascinating, which helped when pitching my idea to Mr Al Fayed. I think this also helped when facing Lord Sugar in the boardroom. Everyone is supposed to be scared of him but I was not as he reminds me of my dad.”
Ella Jade went on the TV show after organising a student version of The Apprentice last year while in her final year of a business management course at King’s College London. She said: “A lot of people go on the show for 15 minutes of fame, which I’m not interested in.
I went on it to gain experience and build up my reputation as a businesswoman, to be respected and renowned.” Among the other candidates in the show is ex-PA and hypnotherapist Sarah Dales who incurred the wrath of judge Baroness Brady, one of Lord Sugar’s aides, for suggesting her female team-mates should wear “short skirts and loads of make-up” to win a challenge.
Baroness Brady said: “These are antiquated views for a bygone age that thankfully is no longer around any more.”



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