By Emb Hashmi
Asian World caught up with the busy entrepreneur Zeeshaan Shah and former Apprentice contestant to see what life is like for him post Lord Sugar’s feared board room.
First and foremost we asked him why he applied to appear on BBC 1 Apprentice he told us; “It was a recommendation from close friends and family. I have always been very entrepreneurial and those close to me believed I was the perfect fit to win the show, bad advice.” He went on to tell us that he was 26 when he applied and the that the timing was absolutely perfect for him in terms of where he was with his business and personal life. However he said “If it had come a year later I don’t think I would have been able to do it, as you have to take a lot of time away from your life and business.”
Zee as he is commonly referred to told us he walked away from the show learning one very valuable lesson; which was ‘that Oud is also an instrument and that reality TV is far from reality.’
1. Do you regret your decision to appear on the Apprentice?
Absolutely not. I mean the show is far from black and white and the reality is far from what the viewers see, however I believe most intelligent people understand it is a TV program and it’s really just entertainment with a business twist to it.
Overall it was a great experience, more than anything else a lot of fun both filming and the post-airing experience. It’s been a great journey and as a young entrepreneur passionate about business I feel being a part of the world’s largest business show is an achievement.
2. Do you know Dubai like the back of your hand?
Good one. I do know Dubai very well as I’ve spent a lot of time there over the last 13 years. Once again with an aspect of entertainment my quote was taken out of context. When we were in the brain storming session the other candidates spent a good 20 minutes messing around with the map calculating distances and travel times. I was trying to explain just because its 5 miles away it doesn’t mean that it’s a 10 minute drive, there’s traffic to account for and all sorts and out of frustration I said those now blasphemous words which many believe were the first nail in my coffin.
3. Do you regret saying that now?
In hindsight yes, not because there was anything wrong with what I said, it’s not like we got lost in Dubai or anything. In a matter of fact there is a one hour special ‘Why I fired them’ episode that aired before the final in which Lord Sugar explains why he fired each candidate. On my turn he actually said that in hindsight my strategy in Dubai was right and to be honest anyone who knows Dubai at all will say the same. You go to the souks to find bargains and Dubai Mall for designer shopping.
4. What is Oud?
A mahogany based traditional Arabic scent? no well there are two types of Oud a wood based fragrance and a traditional Arabic guitar type instrument.
5. You came across on the Apprentice as anti-woman and quite chauvinistic does this reflect you in real life? If not why did you come across this way on the programme do you think?
Not at all. Once again this comes down to the entertainment factor, its ‘show business’. For the producers The Apprentice is a business, it’s a ratings game and they have to create interesting story lines. Unfortunately I think playing on my ethnic background the idea of me being sexist was thrown around in the build up to my final boardroom which was then edited to become part of the episodes core story line.
6. Have things improved for you businesswise after being fired by Lord Sugar?
Business is good and the Lord above has always showered his blessings upon me. The show has opened a few doors for me as it will have for all the other candidates and it comes down to how we capitalise on these.
7. Have you been in touch with any of the other Apprentices since you were fired?
Yes most of us keep in touch on social media. I recently hosted the Asian Business Awards in Manchester and a few of the candidates came to support me including some from last years show. However as fellow candidates I believe we will always have our bond as The Apprentice family of sharing that unique experience together.
8. Would you consider doing any other TV programmes?
A few channels contacted me to work on business related programs but nothing has really stood out. I would consider the right opportunity but it has to marry in with what I do, at the end of the day I’m a businessman and my ambition was never to use The Apprentice as a launch pad for a TV career.
“One word to sum up fellow Apprentice Uzma in my opinion is – Makeup!”
9. What are you working on at the moment?
I’m the CEO of One Investments one of London’s leading international property investment companies. We have over 50 projects across 4 continents and help retail investors make shrewd investment in key markets and sectors of growth.
10. What is in the future for Zee?
My primary focus is growing my property investment company, One Investments. It has so much potential and I really want to take it to its paramount. Were doing that through horizontal integration and opposed to only acting as an agent for other developers, we will be developing our own projects now. Our first project is a 53 room hotel investment opportunity in a very prime location of London which we will be launching in Q1 of 2014.
“2014 might be the year I get married”