Karren Brady has admitted she’s more worried about her weight than her business acumen as she prepares to take over as Lord Alan Sugar sidekick on the new series of The Apprentice.
“I worry I look posh and fat,” she says in a revealing interview in Radio Times magazine. ” I can’t do anything about posh – I’m accentless – but I’ve spent 20 years battling my weight. Nick Hewer [the other sidekick] and Alan are so fit and slim I look huge in comparison.”
Brady, who takes over the hotseat from Margaret Mountford on the sixth series of the hugely popular BBC1 show, also talks about the demands of being a successful woman in the notoriously macho world of Premier League football, her decision to return to work just three days after her daughter was born – “That was a mistake I regret, but you learn” – and the controversial subject of footballers’ wages.
“The Premiership is the best league in the world, but footballers earn enormous sums. It’s difficult to justify wages of £100,000 a week – except to say that players earn the going rate.”
Former managing director of Birmingham City, Brady took over as vice-chairman of West Ham United in January and has since appointed three women to senior positions.
“I’m not a man hater, but women create diversity and tend to be more political,” she says. “It was difficult when I came here. I called it the West Ham country club.”
So how does filming The Apprentice alongside the notoriously forthright Alan Sugar compare to the boardroom at West Ham?
“Alan has taught me the toughest thing about being a success is you have to continue to be one. There’s no point in having an award-winning show last year. It has to be this year as well. Sometimes we’re up at five in the morning and go through until one the next morning.”
And what can fans expect from the backstabbing candidates this time around?
“There are some, er, interesting contestants,” reveals Brady. ” They come in with a chip on their shoulder and are aggressive, but they also want to learn, and listen to feedback from Alan. It amazes me they don’t realise they need two strategies: one for the task, and another in the boardroom.”