INTERVIEW: My short career as a gay Apprentice

Adam Lake March 27, 2008
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Last night the new series of The Apprentice started on BBC1. spoke to Sir Alan Sugar’s first victim, 23 year old Nick De Lacey, about being booted out in the first week, his fear of chavs, and what how homophobia still exists in the workplace.

You had to compete with over 20,000 people to get on to The Apprentice, how did it feel to get on the show?

It felt really good!

I had such a sense of achievement getting on the show and it just confirmed to me that I do have something special.

I watched the last series and I’ve always been a fan. I never seriously thought I would get in.

I don’t really have much business experience so it was never really about me being the great businessman, I think I am a character and I guess that’s why they chose me.

What had you been up to?

I done a degree, a masters, and I qualified as a barrister.

I knew that I had to take a year off as you have to apply for a job a year in advance, so I thought I’d give it a go.

As it turns out I got offered a job just around that time, so when people say are you disappointed to be out I say that it was pretty good timing.

If I had carried on much more with The Apprentice is would have had to have given up the law.

So are you giving up on business?

I do pursue business in my own right, I’ve got an art exhibition coming up in Mayfair in May and it’s a big deal, so yes I paint but there’s a huge business aspect to that as well.

I’ve also done a bit of property development and I hope to continue with that as well. So yes I do dabble in business but law is my priority.

You come across on the show as very confident, do you think that is something that Sir Alan Sugar liked about you?

I think he did like my confidence, despite that fact that he made a point of taking the piss out of my obsession with qualifications and doing well.

I concentrated on that aspect because I had nothing else to concentrate on, I’ve never had a job so I had to concentrate on my academic qualifications.

In last night’s episode you had to sell fish. Have you ever fancied yourself as a fishmonger?

I’ve never sold it, I’ve bought it from the fishmongers but never sold it.

Have you ever had a sales job?

No, sales is totally alien to me. When I was about 15 I did work in Sussex stationers.

Having someone bring you something to put through a till is very different to persuading someone to buy something. I mean that’s a very different kettle of fish.

I think I would have done better if I was project manager because I’m very into organisation, strategy and I’m quite good at bossing people around. I almost wish that I stepped up to the mark and became project manager.

Was Alex a good team leader?

He was rubbish, he played the boardroom very well, playing the victim of social class. He was maintaining that he was the hard done by northerner even though he went to private school.

Who are your role models?

My father was a self-made man, he did an Open University degree in law while looking after his dying mother and worked at the town hall from the age of sixteen.

I saw him as an icon that I always looked up to in the same way that people look up to Sir Alan Sugar.

Do you think that Sir Alan was put off by your qualifications?

He was, put off by my sophistication and put off by the fact that I was so into art.

He thinks that people like us don’t have to work as hard as we have a silver spoon in our mouths which is such a pile of crap.

I have got where I am out of sheer hard work. Giving up social life and practically become a hermit.

Do you ever go out on the gay scene?

I don’t go out as much as I should, I literally get lost in Soho because I don’t know any of the clubs, I’ve been there like three times! I’ve become really boring!

I went to university in London and I lived in Camberwell. You don’t really want to go out at night in Camberwell because you’ll get killed.

I was so determined to get the top grades that I don’t go out and you kind of get into habits. It’s a shame because I’m such a fantastic dancer – I’ve been told!

Are you scared that you might get recognised?

I think that I might be attacked by chavs because I said that I don’t like them. The Mirror has labelled me the ‘Chav Hater.’

Do you think that being gay makes things harder for people in the workplace?

I think it does make it harder. Society is what society is.

It’s much better now but even at the bar where this is a great mixture of people there is a lot of homophobia.

You never know, you can never say it because you can never prove it but there’s always an underlying force.

Do you agree with positive discrimination?

I think that any form of discrimination is bad.

Do you think you were put in the apprentice as the token gay guy?

I never mentioned it at my audition but they may have seen me and thought that it was obvious.

I don’t ever want to be chosen for my sexuality, the idea is absurd. I don’t understand what that has to do with anything.

I don’t conform to the whole I am gay and this should be my whole entire lifstyle thing.

I think that Big Brother is especially offensive as it is notorious for collecting a group of freaks so it’s like you’re a freak, you’re gay.

They put you in to see if your going to turn the other men gay or chat up a straight guy. It’s all very stereotypical.

Have you ever longed for fame?

Honestly, yes. There is a part of me that has always craved attention.

When I started my legal studies I used to go to bed almost in tears thinking that I should be famous, I just felt I should be known a person.

It depressed me that I might only ever be known in terms of law.

I felt I had more to give. It wasn’t that I wanted to be all over the tabloids, I just felt that I wanted to make a mark on the world.

What do you have coming up?

Well I start my new job in October and up until then I’m going organise my exhibition.

I might go to Marbella, my parents have a place there and I happen to like going to a restaurant that is one of Sir Alan’s favourites!

So you do have something in common then?

That, I’m afraid, is where the similarities end.

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