The Apprentice’s fired Aisha Kasim: I was heavy handed as a PM – but I stand by that cactus flower

“People can think I’m being defiant, but I’ve never seen in any retailer anything to do with cactus on shampoo”

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Aisha Kasim admits she put herself in the firing line during tonight’s The Apprentice by being rather “heavy handed” with her project management style – but she will not budge on that cactus flower.

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The teams were tasked with branding a cactus-based shampoo; from the bottle to the TV advert. While the boys’ team used a cactus image in their logo – it slotted in as the ‘T’ on their brand name ‘Western’ – Aisha only used the cactus flower on the bottle of the girls’ product, Desert Secret. This didn’t go down too well with the boss of the boardroom.

“Who put that raspberry on there?” Sugar scoffed, looking like he’d found a dead bug sellotaped to the side of the bottle.

“It’s a cactus flower…” Aisha began before he closed the conversation back down. “You and I know what it is. But our consumer out there, who we’re going to sell it to, doesn’t. Did you watch my lips when I set this task and said this is a cactus based product?”

Fittingly prickly, right?

It certainly played a part in her dismissal: “Aisha, you came up with the name, you came up with the brand and you came up with the flower – so Aisha, you’re fired,” Lord Sugar concluded.

But 30-year-old Aisha, who invented the hot donut hair bun, is sticking with her decision to use the flower and not the plant.

“That’s something I can stand by. People can think I’m being defiant, but at the end of the day, Lord Sugar said himself, he came up with this shampoo a few years ago, I’ve never seen in any retailer anything to do with cactus on shampoo. There’s a good reason for that, people don’t want to see a cactus anywhere near a product for their body or for their skin or their hair.

“I was just trying to put a different spin on it, think outside the box and show Lord Sugar a different perspective. Why don’t we soften it and just put the cactus flower on the bottle? More people are likely to try it and it’s not going to put them off. That’s all I was trying to communicate.

“I did disagree with Lord Sugar in the boardroom, but I wasn’t arguing with him to show disrespect.”

Aisha does take responsibility for being a bit “heavy handed” in her approach, with team members quick to point out that she went against majority votes. But, she says, “We didn’t de-rail. We ended up with a product, we got the job done.”

As for taking on the PM role instead of hair and beauty salon owner Charleine – who had all but dyed the letters PM into her hair in her excitement to run the task – it’s the one majority vote Aisha wasn’t going to argue with.

“I put myself forward, Charleine put herself forward, I was voted in over Charleine. I couldn’t then at that point back down and say, oh well, I know I won the vote, but there you go Charleine. I would have looked so weak. I had to kind of follow through.”

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The Apprentice continues Wednesday at 9:00pm on BBC1