The Apprentice 2013: ‘What’s wrong with being a strong woman in business?’

18 Jul

“What’s wrong with being a strong, direct, outspoken woman in business?” asked Luisa Zissman at the start of the series finale of The Apprentice 2013 – a final she went on to lose against Leah Totton.

Luisa had been called manipulative and argumentative during the series, and even her teammates in the final, who were meant to be supporting her, were “glad to see her sweating a bit”. And yet Luisa remained feisty and focused on bringing her online baking brand to life – even to the point of talking too much, listening too little, and reacting emotionally after her presentation to the trade.

Leah Totton was even more focused, I thought, giving her teammates’ contributions short shrift. She knew her own mind. “I like boring,” she retorted when someone criticised her logo design. There was no breaking down in tears for Leah after her presentation to the experts.

Irregardless of who won (though I would have gone for Luisa), I was fascinated to see two women reach the final and go all-out to win Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment. Some commentators have argued that the show did nothing for feminism, and Luisa was even quoted saying that feminism had nothing to do with her success. She said being “aggressive and ruthless” got her to where she is today. But I did love this riposte from Katy Brand, claiming that Luisa was more of a feminist than she believed herself to be.

Luisa may not have won the Apprentice money, but she has apparently found other investors willing to support her brand. I doubt we’ll have heard the last of her.

What’s wrong with being a strong woman in business? What, indeed!

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