'How I survived The Apprentice’s boardroom after losing 9 times'

Phil Turner named the runner up in The Apprentice

The Apprentice s18,18-04-2024,12,Phil,Phil at the Royal Navy College,FreemantleMedia Ltd,N/A
The Apprentice s18,18-04-2024,12,Phil,Phil at the Royal Navy College,FreemantleMedia Ltd,N/A
  • The Apprentice's Phil Turner lost out on Lord Alan Sugar's £250,000 investment for his family business Turner's Pies. Turner went head to head with Rachel Woolford in the 2024 final.

  • He may have lost nine out of ten tasks throughout the process but Turner made the final of the show and was named the runner up. In an exclusive chat with Yahoo, Turner gave away a few of his secrets on mastering the intense boardroom.

I became a master in The Apprentice boardroom.

I don't know if it's just me or whether my experience of growing up in a family business and having to have some really direct frank conversations, that I've become really comfortable in uncomfortable situations. And The Apprentice boardroom is the most uncomfortable environment in the world.

The Apprentice boardroom then felt like home to me - especially as the weeks were going on. The only thing I was looking forward to was just getting back in the boardroom and having a chat with Lord Sugar. I loved it.

The more you’re in the boardroom, the more you learn about how to behave in that situation. One thing I learned was Lord Sugar doesn’t like waffle. He likes you to get your point across in as few words as possible. So I clocked that early on. I quickly learned if I was going to say something, I’m going to need to condense it down. Ideally speaking in just two sentences: ‘I did well because of this or they did not so well because of this.’ Maybe that helped it! The boardroom just became the new normal for me - and getting a telling off from Lord Sugar too. But don’t get me wrong it would have been nice to have a few treats every now and then.

Rachel Woolford and Phil Turner went head to head in The Apprentice final
Rachel Woolford and Phil Turner went head to head in The Apprentice final. (BBC)

There's so much positivity around how resilient I am and my underdog attitude. Obviously there were a pocket of people who said: ‘What are you doing on the show? It makes a mockery out of the show’. But I think what people don't realise is there's so much that we're being assessed on.

There’s the tasks. But there's so much more than meets the eye: what we do in the house, what we do when the cameras are off, what we do when the cameras are on. I think I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I did actually lose every week. So I really got the opportunity to spend so much time with Tim Campbell, Karren Brady and Lord Sugar himself. I really got the chance to show him how I can respond under pressure, how I react in it.

The show for me is not designed to see how brilliant you are. It's looking at: how can you respond with the inevitable pressures and mistakes that are gonna happen. And I'm quite proud of myself. I managed to keep my cool under the most high pressured environment, and that's what it's all about. I think that’s what Lord Sugar saw in me and I think that's why he took me all the way to the final.

I was relieved to get to the final to be honest. I was just like, ‘Oh, God, I'm finally here.’ Everything happens so fast, you don't really get a chance to process it. So even after the losses, there's no time to feel sorry for yourself. You just gotta dust yourself down and throw yourself head first into the next task. And it was a bit like that with the interviews too.

The interviews were absolutely mentally draining. Mike Soutar was picking the bones a little bit over the sign which said Turner's Pies was 'established in the 1990s'. In reality, my grandma created these recipes in the 1990s and it's a nod to the heritage and authenticity of the business. These are the pies that she was making. But that’s what we love Mike for! I expected nothing less from Mike and I really enjoyed spending some time with him. You want to be grilled in the interviews and even I was like: come on, grill me just to make good TV!

When we all got back to the house and we were like, ooooh and relax. Then me and Rachel got to the final and it wasn’t long before we had to go again. There’s little time to reflect and now looking back it’s easier to process it all.

The Apprentice's Phil Turner plans to stay in touch with Lord Sugar
The Apprentice's Phil Turner plans to stay in touch with Lord Sugar. (BBC)

I was petrified of public speaking. I've always avoided those moments where you've got to stand in front of people and talk - and it's hard enough for anyone. So throughout the process I was ducking and diving, trying to avoid those moments as much as possible. But in the final pitch, there's nowhere to hide and I can honestly tell you it was the most petrified I have been in my whole entire life. And I don't know what come over me. It was like an out of body experience. It helps when you know what you're talking about and you're passionate about it. I think that came across well.

Filming two endings is a bit weird. The first one is very natural and the second one is not so natural. However, I was really excited for Rachel when he said she had won. I couldn't have thought of a better winner and a more deserved winner than Rachel. It was a surreal moment filming two endings but by that time if I'm being completely honest with you, we were both shattered and we just wanted to go home to see our families. I was thinking, I don't care if I’ve won, get me home!

Finding out I didn't get Lord Sugar's £250,000 investment was bittersweet. Lord Sugar tells us himself: 'I've not chosen you to be the winner.' Lord Sugar did say to me, 'Although you've not won the process, I know you're looking for an investor, and I have invested in companies outside the process.' It was his way of saying, 'Look, although you didn't win, I really respect you as a business person and I think you've done really well to do what you've done.'

The Apprentice's Phil Turner has found success with his Pies by Post idea
The Apprentice's Phil Turner has found success with his Pies by Post idea. (BBC)

I think it would be nice to keep in touch with Lord Sugar. He did actually ask me to send him some pies. He said to me, 'Phil, before you go, make sure you send me and my family some pies when I'm back in the country.' I think he's in Florida at the moment. Lord Sugar is very similar to my dad. I have even more respect for him having spend time with him than I did before I went on the show.

We're back to being profitable at Turner's Pies. We've had another tax year since what we were talking about on the show and everything's going well. We've had a huge demand for our online service Pies by Post since we've been on the show and even before that.

I was surprised at how hard The Apprentice was to be honest. I struggled with the lack of sleep because they're just long and hard days. It was also hard having a lack of communication with my family back at home. We're so absorbed in that The Apprentice bubble and we only get a little bit of time to speak to our families.

But for me, the real positive to take out of that is I made a new pen pal which was my 13-year-old daughter. We used to write to each other. I'm not a great writer and not a great reader but in today's day and age, writing a letter is so old school. It was the most powerful thing sitting there in bed and reading this letter that she'd written with her own words and she'd become my biggest fan. It was a heartwarming moment. And I used to say to her things like, 'daddy's feeling a little bit scared about tomorrow'.

My daughter has just started in year seven at school, so she was feeling a bit anxious and it was nice that I could show her my vulnerabilities and show her that we're all scared, even daddy’s scared, and that’s really helped. To be her inspiration in that way was really great. I've still got the letters now and it takes me back to that moment of how I felt while filming the show.

Phil Turner told his story to Lily Waddell.

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