The Apprentice: Conor kicked to touch as Sugar’s wrath falls on Mullingar man
He’s fired. It doesn’t get more definitive than that – especially when you’re on the receiving end of Alan Sugar’s gesticulating index finger of doom.
But Mullingar man and former London Irish rugby star Conor Gilsenan can hold his head high, despite being drop-kicked out of BBC1’s ‘The Apprentice’ by the brash baron.
In the second episode of the series, which aired last night, Conor was clearly shafted – and that’s not just the verdict of we in his back yard. On the BBC2 after-show, panellists and audience members were all but unanimous in their verdict that he got a raw deal.
What happened? The boys lost (again), and Conor ultimately became the scapegoat for what was, admittedly, a barmy strategy to market a new electric toothbrush which everyone, including Lord Sugar himself, believed resembled a turd.
The design of the product was the brainchild of the project manager, Conor’s fellow contestant Aaron Willis. “I had nothing to do with the logo and the toothbrush,” the Mullingar native later clarified, “so I was kind of left with a puzzle.”
Conor’s answer to this puzzle was to work with the pieces given to him, and to produce ‘Wiffi the Wizard’, an app to go along with the toothbrush. He put himself out there as an app expert, but Lord Sugar found the piece of software “boring”.
“Given the restraints – you’re doing it one day – as a prototype I didn’t think it was bad,” Conor reflected, with some humility.
“Obviously, in the real world, if you had a second chance you’d look at it and go, ‘Well this is a bit slow and mundane and the music was really repetitive, so let’s add a few dimensions to it to spice it up.’”
So what was Conor’s verdict on his premature axing? One of the guest panellists on the BBC2 after-show felt that Aaron “got away with murder” and “managed to worm his way out” of culpability for a strategy that was predominantly of his own making. Conor, like the audience, couldn’t disagree.
“I feel a little bit aggrieved, and I think I’d have a fairly decent case for unfair dismissal,” he laughed. “But I don’t fancy going up against Lord Sugar in the courtroom; I think I had enough in the boardroom!
“But I put myself out there, got my ideas across, gave it a crack, and I’ve no regrets about how it played out.”
Conor (28) described the competitive nature of ‘The Apprentice’ as “brutal”, and recalled the first day being spoken to by Lord Sugar. “I sank into my chair. The whole thing is quite surreal and intimidating,” he remarked.
Not fazed by getting the bullet, figuratively speaking, he revealed that his ongoing 301 Bar project would have been at the heart of his business proposal for Lord Sugar, had he reached the end of the series.
“It’s a mobile bar, targeting live events across the country. And one of the great things that’s actually come from this is that it gave me the impetus to go and do it,” he said.
“We’ve got a Land Rover that we’ve converted into a bar, and a horse box. Any corporate events, if people want to bring us along, I’ll sell Wiffi sticks there if you want!”
Talking to MailOnline after his dismissal, Conor said that he is refusing to be defined by his brief appearance on ‘The Apprentice’. “It is a small chapter in my life,” he said.
“It was a fun experience, but I’ve done a lot of other interesting and great things like I’ve played professional rugby for nine years, I recently got engaged, I set up a business, I have a great circle of friends around me.
“I will post about it on Instagram eventually, but I definitely do not want to be the guy that went on The Apprentice.
“That was never the objective, I have always been a massive fan of the show and I was nine months out of my rugby career and the opportunity arose and I thought it would put it outside of my comfort zone.”