The Apprentice contestant Lottie Lion has revealed she has struggled with her mental health in lockdown and used a sugar daddy website until she was forced to speak to police after experiencing harassment.
Lion was just 19 years old when she competed on the BBC business competition in 2019, making it to the interview stage before being fired by Lord Sugar.
She became one of the show's most controversial contestants when she was accused of making a racist remark towards fellow hopeful Lubna Farhan in a WhatsApp group, after filming had concluded.
She did not join her fellow contestants in reuniting for the finale of the series, which was won by bakery owner Carina Lepore.
Lion told The Sun she didn't like how she was framed as a villain on the show and said it was "a toxic thing to be humiliated on national TV".
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She said producers forced her to go by the name Lottie rather than Charlotte and criticised the show's aftercare procedure.
“Another Apprentice candidate contacted the BBC producers asking if I was OK. The producers contacted me way too late," Lion revealed.
“I went back with a really s****y email: ‘I’m not going to be part of your box-ticking b*******, you know that I’m not OK’.
“They never responded. That just goes to show they don’t care.”
Lion said members of the public still approach her on the street, and she was targeted for abuse before the show even aired.
“I’m trying to bury much of it," she added. "If by speaking out I can help others going through mental health issues then I’d be so pleased.”
Lion said she has suffered mental health struggles since splitting from her boyfriend and losing her job during last year's coronavirus lockdown.
She said her boyfriend had referenced using "sugar babies" in the past and that she subsequently opted to join the website Seeking Arrangement, which describes itself as a place where "beautiful, successful people fuel mutually beneficial relationships".
“I thought maybe being on the website could buy me a bag or holiday," she admitted.
“It came to a point where dating during lockdown was difficult, and I wanted to meet people who are set up in life — more established and with contacts."
The star revealed she has never dated anyone younger than 26, and prefers to have relationships with "mature men with more life experience and more success".
She said she was approached by a man on the website, who recognised her from The Apprentice, and that his initial charm soon took a turn.
“Suffice to say I won’t be on there any more," she said. "I’ve had threats, harassment and had to speak to police.”
A spokesman for The Apprentice told The Sun that “the wellbeing of candidates is of paramount importance".
They added: “We have a robust duty of care protocol in place which includes an experienced network of support before, during and after filming.”
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