The Apprentice UK: I spoke to fired Chorley candidate Paul Bowen about what his experience was really like

The only Apprentice candidate from Lancashire has sadly been fired from the hit BBC show, take a look below at our exclusive exit interview with him...
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Chorley businessman Paul Bowen, a director of the popular local retailer 'Bowen Pies', has had his hopes of securing Lord Alan Sugar's £250,000 investment and mentorship dashed after being fired in tonight's 'cheesecake task' episode.

The 34-year-old was the subteam leader in a boy's team which lost for the second time in a row- finding himself brought back into the boardroom by project manager Phil Turner, alongside wellness brand owner Asif Munaf.

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In the boardroom, Paul was particularly called out for pushing a chocolate narrative onto a health conscious corporate client and he admitted his mistakes whilst failing to defend himself against accusations from Phil and Asif.

Lord Sugar told him: "Paul, I admire you for admitting your mistakes but there were simply too many mistakes and so it is with regret, Paul, you're fired."

Following his regrettably premature exit, we sat down for an exclusive chat with Paul to talk about everything businees, The Apprentice and of course...pies! Here's what he had to say:

How are you feeling to be leaving The Apprentice at this point in the competition?

Paul: “Obviously disappointed but I made a few mistakes you know, I think if I’d have been sat where he was sat, I’d have sacked myself too. So yeah, it's always disappointing to go out so early, I  genuinely thought I had a shot at winning so to go out week two, it is a bit of a disappointment. I ain’t gonna lie, it was gutting but I couldn't hide behind the mistakes so unfortunately yes, it was my time to go.”

Chorley's Paul Bowen opens up about his time on The Apprentice.Chorley's Paul Bowen opens up about his time on The Apprentice.
Chorley's Paul Bowen opens up about his time on The Apprentice.

So you did think you were the right person to be fired that week?

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Paul: “Yeah and I don't think to be honest, it was down to what I did, as in I think I was right to push the chocolate still - maybe not as much  but you know we'd been given chocolate, I'd gone there to sell chocolate. I think six pounds for a cheesecake is still expensive - I'd have gone down to four me... £13 flipping heck flo must have had Dick Turpin with her! But you know at the end of the day I made profit, obviously we didn't win but if that was a business, that would have been a good day at the office, for me anyway. 

“But what I didn't do is, I didn't back myself. I sit there and I watch myself and it's hard to believe really, I'm a very confident person but I didn't have self confidence. It's very rare at Bowen Pies, obviously I'm at the top here, I don't have to explain yourself to anyone. When you've got Lord Sugar telling me off like a naughty school kid, it was a different thing and I almost - dare I say - give in. I think having had I fought a little bit harder, having had I gone in on someone and sort of lay down to the law and why I should have been his next business partner, I did give in and so yeah, looking back at it, I’d have sacked me and all."

Were you more intimidated by the process than you thought you were going to be?

Paul: “Yes, I was. I thought, because everyone says to me oh, ‘you'll do great on that’ because if you meet me day to day, not a lot fazes me, I'll tell you how it is but meeting someone that you've seen on your telly for [20 years]... meeting a business tycoon such as Lord Sugar, do you not what I mean, I just sat there in awe I think at half of it. I'm trying to be funny, but then trying to be serious. Should I do this, should I do that, and then you think agh!”

The bottom three boys outside the boardroom on the second episode. The bottom three boys outside the boardroom on the second episode.
The bottom three boys outside the boardroom on the second episode.

Was Lord Sugar what you expected?

Paul: “No, he was scarier! For not a tall guy, he carries a lot of power. He certainly is a force to be reckoned with. "

And what about Karen* and Tim? 

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Paul: “Tim was such a mega guy.  It's funny really what you see, like on camera, he obviously comes across crosses quite direct but off camera, he's got so much energy, he’s really positive and I absolutely loved working with the guy.” 

*At this point in the programme, Paul had only worked with Tim.

What are you most proud of about your time on The Apprentice?

Paul: “I think a lot of it boils down to showing what I'm about. I get on with everybody, I see myself as quite - not funny as in comedian funny - but someone that's just nice to be with and I still think I kept that up. I showed, which I've always said from the start, business acumen. I've got business skills and I think I got that across well, it was just literally that I didn't fight my corner and that's just something that I need to work on.”

Tim Campbell during episode two of The Apprentice.Tim Campbell during episode two of The Apprentice.
Tim Campbell during episode two of The Apprentice.

What were your first impressions of the other contestants ?

Paul: “When you watch series before, you always think ‘who are these people? What are they doing?” and then, I remember the first episode, obviously everyone says what they do, and I thought ‘wow, these are a credible bunch of candidates here’ and even that was intimidating. You've got doctors, dentists, pharmacists, people earning big money, I mean it is crazy the amount of skill and talent on this year's Apprentice”

Who would you like to see win?

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Paul: “Verdi’s probably one of my biggest ones. He’s got so much energy,  I've got a lot of time for Verdi. He's enthusiastic, he's really young and I think he will go far, no matter what happens in the process. Obviously, I only worked with the guys but I believe in Paul [Dr Paul Midh] as well. He surprised me really, I thought I was the best salesman in the world but he absolutely schooled me when we went to, I think for our last task where we sold to a shop, you didn’t see it on camera, but he was incredible. And then obviously Phil as well [the other pie owner in the show]. I have  nothing to take away from Phil, he did a good job, which is why I didn't really take him down.. I'm not really going to call someone just for the sake of calling them and wanting to be in the process and yeah, wish him all the best as well." 

What was your business plan?

Paul: “Here at Bowen Pies, we've been growing now for quite some time, we've got three shops and to be honest, I wanted to expand into franchises. I always wanted to be probably a step behind Greg's, a national kind of pie shop because it’s a business that allows not a lot of outlay for a shop and it was to give more people the opportunity to own a franchise, have a business and take a slice of the pie."

Is that still your ambition without his investment? 

Paul: “Yeah, it's 100% an ambition of mine. Obviously, the reason why I went on the show was not so much money related, although it is a substantial amount of money. What you can’t ignore is Lord Sugar is a one point whatever billion pound business person, having that in your corner is just absolutely out of this world.  I do good business now, how do you do big business? We do 1.5 million, what does 10, 100 million look like? And that is what  I was really hoping for.

“It's still achievable, it's just having the people in your corner. When business gets to a certain point, and I'm at that point now to be honest, there's only so much you can do and then you need other people in your corner, you need a good foundation but where to get that foundation from? I think once I can get that, once I can get people in my corner who I believe in, I think you could see Bowen pies at a store near you."

How have the people of Chorley reacted to your time on the show?

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Paul: “Oh, people love it. We're the famous pie shop of Chorley, do you know what I mean... We're a real small town, we're a friendly folk and everyone's coming up to me saying like ‘ come on Paul, do it for Chorley!’ We’re such a nice small town that there's a lot of love, a lot of love in Chorley.”

Will Lord Sugar come to Chorley to try your pies?

Paul: “Lord Sugar’s had one of our pies! He’s deleted the tweet now but I actually sent him some pies before the show. I actually thought I was gonna get kicked off, but I don't think he realise that it were me… He just said thanks for the pies.”

Has there been a funniest moment on the show?

Paul: “Probably seeing Verdi coming down that cliff on episode one. Bless him, the poor lad was absolutely bricking, it was funny to watch. You shouldn’t laugh at somebody else's fears but his legs were shaking like a [********] dog.”

Verdi (left) in the first episode, before he climbed down the hill in question!Verdi (left) in the first episode, before he climbed down the hill in question!
Verdi (left) in the first episode, before he climbed down the hill in question!

Do you still talk to anyone else from the show?

Paul: “Yeah, we all speak, they’re all fantastic people and yes, there's a real warmth this year with the candidates. Obviously, everyone's fighting for the 250,000 pound, everyone wants to win, you know they'll push you off a cliff, but they'll do it nicely.”

What is the main thing you will take away from the experience?

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Paul: “Probably just learning other people's cultures, learning how other people do things. Obviously, I've been in the business now since a young age and I've had experience outside of Bowen pies, but I've never had any experience of other managers, how other people do things and  everyone in that process had a skill and I think I learned a little bit from everyone to be honest.”

Would you have a final message for Lord Sugar if he was to read this article?

Paul: "I'd probably like to thank him and say I understand why I got sacked, not because of my mistakes, but because of my fight, and I'll look to fight on more in the future.

“And if you want to buy a pie, go to www. and we’ll send them to your door!” 

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