The Apprentice gay contestant Frank Brooks: Being called emotional is ‘unfair’
The only out LGBT+ candidate in the 14th season of the BBC show The Apprentice was fired by Lord Sugar in the third episode, which aired on Wednesday (October 17).
Senior marketing manager Frank Brooks faced the boardroom for the second time in a row in the third week of the process.
He was picked by project manager Tom Bunday to join him in the firing line along with Jasmine Kundra, who was sub-team leader, following a humiliating loss to the other team who made more than three times their profit in the task, which involved producing and selling artisanal doughnuts across London.
Brooks talked to PinkNews about being called “emotional,” his best friend on the show and the importance of queer representation on television.
Did you watch the episode last night? What did you make of the editing?
I watched the episode last night even though it was a little difficult watching any episode, watching yourself on TV, nevermind the episode that you go out on, but I think it’s important to watch so you know what everyone else knows.
I think that overall it was a pretty accurate description of how we performed on the task. I think we were up from 2am and we finished in late afternoon so there’s a lot of hours of filming—[but] it was pretty much true to life, I’m not too disappointed.
How did you feel about facing Lord Sugar for the second Week in a row?
I was so shocked to be brought in back to that boardroom. I genuinely thought that even though we lost the task, I was not in any way, shape, or form responsible for the failure and I think that was part of the reason why I perhaps didn’t defend myself enough in the boardroom.
When you are project manager, like the week before, and you lose, you know you’re going back in so you have time to collect your thoughts and get yourself together—but when you go in and you don’t realise you’re going to be brought back in the final three, it can be difficult to construct a good counter-argument in such a short space of time.
One word that was thrown around a lot in the boardroom to describe your performance was “emotional.” What did you think of that assessment?
I am personally not very happy about it. I think “emotional” is the wrong word. “Emotional” has some negative connotations with it. It can suggest weakness and instability and a volatile character—which I don’t believe that I was at all. I think it was a loaded word to question your integrity as a business person and I do think that was an unfair justification of my approach to this task.
There’s still very little queer representation on television. Someone in a similar situation as yours, Dan from The Great British Bake Off, recently discussed the homophobic abuse he’s received. What’s your experience been?
I’m more of an Instagram user and on that I’ve had nothing but support even in the past 12 hours since the episode has gone out. I have had messages from all sorts of people saying: “You’ve done really well,” and “Great to have an LGBT person on TV.”
[Viewers] will have their opinion without knowing you. I’m lucky in a sense I don’t let that get to me—but I have seen a few comments. The boardroom was tough enough I think I can face anything now but I do know that some people have it a lot, lot harder and it’s a shame that we are in a society where people feel like they can comment away without any repercussions of that.
But the LGBT+ community has been really supportive to me and I support them and I just hope that having people from all different communities on television and getting that exposure will help us to get equality eventually, although I know we’re a way off.
Do you have any regrets about things you’d have done differently on the show?
I don’t regret doing the show at all, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m grateful to have been a part of it representing a minority group. I just wish it lasted a little longer. But I think overall this process has taught me to own your decisions and trust who you are as a person.
I try to be my own biggest fan because you’ve got to be, to really own you as a character, but I’m lucky to have that support around me and the candidates were great to be around.
Who are you rooting for now?
I’m rooting for Camilla. Her and I struck a really lovely friendship in the house, it’s a shame we didn’t get to work together. She’s got a good balance of business acumen and not taking herself too seriously and manage a team in a fun way.
She always makes me laugh and to do that in business and be a not-to-serious person and still have a good business head on you, I think she’ll go far in the process.
Does this soften the blow of having lost to her team?
She was the right project manager for this task and she led the team well.
We wasted a lot of time on the bespoke donuts and we didn’t end up selling them to the corporate client, which is a bit embarrassing. Ultimately, it was a series of bad decisions and it has to come back on the project manager and I don’t think Tom particularly owned taking responsibility for any of those decisions, because he didn’t seem to make any. I think the only decision he made was to bring me back in the boardroom.
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He did seem to have picked on you a little. Any harsh feelings?
In that taxi ride home you are so disappointed and frustrated, but since then I realised you can’t hold on to grudges and it was a competition and who knows what I would have done. I was in a similar position the week before and I brought David back, but I felt my choice last week was more justified than Tom’s.
I held my head up high, I tried my best, I could not have given any more and I think the You’re Fired programme will show that I’m vindicated and everybody still supported me—so I still have some fans out there and I will hold on to that.
I hope that people will see that the fact I’ve managed to get onto a show that I’ve absolutely loved and been a huge fan of as a member of the LGBT community [will] inspire others to follow their dreams and not let that hold them back.
The answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.