For the show’s first challenge, the candidates were tasked with devising a marketing campaign for a cruise liner.
Things didn’t work out well for Harry Mahmood, the 35-year-old regional operations manager from the West Midlands. Harry was sent home after a tense showdown with candidates Akshay Thakrar and Akeem Bundu-Kamara.
Following Harry’s firing, we spoke to the candidate about his frustrations over being the first to leave, being scapegoated for being “bubbly” and his confusion over a Karren Brady moment being cut from the episode.
This series has been a long time coming. When did you film it?
It’s been a few months, but it’s a total blur to me. I’ve been back in the real world for a long time.
Did Lord Sugar make a fair choice?
Definitely not. I don’t think in the context of the show that he made the right decision because I didn’t get a chance to showcase my business skills, my credentials or me as a person at all. Akshay as a project manager and Akeem as sub-team leader both had opportunities to showcase what they’re about – and they failed miserably. Nick got away with quite a lot as well because he was instrumental with that logo. I got fired because, what, I was bubbly? I put forward ideas and challenged where appropriate? Thats the only reason I can see why I got fired, which is ridiculous ‘cause all those are key ingredients in someone who you want to run a business.
You weren’t afraid to speak your mind, which is ultimately what put you in the firing line. Do you regret that in hindsight?
No, ‘cause with me, I don’t do fake; what you see is what you get. If I’m not happy about something, I’m like, “Guys, just a second, I’m not happy with this and the reason why is because it’s rubbish,” or whatever. A lot of other people are hesitant and sit in the background. I’m always the one to challenge because I want to win. I’m a natural born winner. I like to succeed in life and inspire people. For me to have this opportunity and get kicked out in the first episode is not reflective of who I am as a person and, to be honest with you, I don’t think I’ve been given a fair chance to showcase who I am.
Was it a struggle to be fired in week one?
It’s not about what week I left; it’s a case of taking accountability for my actions. If I was hugely instrumental in failing a task. I would have said, “Lord Sugar, I’ve messed up massively. If you want to keep me in the process, please do so or I’ll happily leave.” If I make a mistake or error, I own up to it – that’s what’s called being a human being. In business, you need integrity and honesty and the fact that these two candidates had no principles and say they messed up shows a lot about them as business leaders.
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It felt like you were a bit of a scapegoat.
It’s so obvious that I was. Akshay knew he’d be in the firing line and strategically thought, “What can I do to save my position?” He thought, “Well, Harry and Akeem challenged each other a bit so let’s get them back in”. That gave him more weight to get out of the firing line and push it onto me. That’s what happened. One thing I’ll say, which hasn’t been mentioned or aired, is during that boardroom, the boys kept saying, “Harry’s been disruptive.” And then Karren had to cut him short and say, “Actually, that’s not strictly true, is it?” She said: “Harry was slightly annoying but not disruptive.” Those were her exact words.
I wonder why they didn’t show that?
Yeah exactly – why would you not show that bit? Clearly Karren [Brady] herself, who followed us the whole journey, thought it. What I didn’t find comfortable viewing was when Tim [Campbell, Claude Littner’s replacement] said I’d been disruptive and that others had said the same thing. Well, A, Tim wasn’t following us and B, who are “the others”? Akeem and the rest who were taking words out of Akeem’s mouth? Navid didn’t say that, Nick or Alex didn’t say that. It’s a bit like they took it out of nowhere ‘cause they wanted to get rid of me, basically.
Were you happy with how the episode depicted you overall?
I got depicted how the producers wanted me to get depicted. I’m just a small fish in a big ocean; I can’t change anything.
Were you sad not to spend more time in the boardroom?
Yeah, ‘cause I really respect Lord Sugar. I have a lot of time for him and everything he stands for. His hard work and ethics. I really enjoyed my time in the boardroom. People ask if it was intimidating being there and I’m like, “No, it wasn’t!” I find him very kind. He’s got very kind eyes. When Akeem and Akshay were barking back and forth about whose fault it was, I was having some quiet time with Lord Sugar.
Which of your fellow candidates stand out?
There are a few characters I enjoyed getting to know and think they’re ones to watch. I actually really like Akshay. Akeem is a nice guy as well despite the business skills he’s lacking in some departments. I love Navid and Nick. With the girls, Harpreet is one to watch, I think. She’s very positive, very smart. Also, I respect Francesca. The way she conducts herself is amazing. Brittany has a lot of energy like myself. There’s also something about Shama, but at the same time, I’m thinking you either like her or you don’t. I can’t wait to see how they all progress.
What’s next for you?
I’m focusing on the business of my bath bombs for children. My plan is to get some retailers and hotel chains involved, like Holiday Inn and holiday homes for children, like Butlin’s and Haven. I’m really passionate about those because 20 per cent of that profit goes straight back into the community it was brought in. So, with every city, village or town, it’ll go back into community centres, orphanages, hospitals, hospices and will help provide children with a sustainable future. I want to really push my other business, too, which is Pharmdrop – Uber for pharmacies. It has three apps: a pharmacy app, a patient app and a delivery app for drivers. I’m looking to launch that simultaneously alongside the bath bombs.
The Apprentice continues next Thursday (13 January) on BBC One at 9pm.