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Lorraine has no regrets about her two minutes of fame

PUBLISHED: 15:42 01 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:32 12 August 2010

Television s The Apprentice celebrity Lorraine Tighe invites reporter Kate Nelson to her Beckenham home to discuss life after the show,

Television's The Apprentice celebrity Lorraine Tighe invites reporter Kate Nelson to her Beckenham home to discuss life after the show, what she thought of the other contestants and her dreams of becoming a charity fundraiser.

AFTER breaking her trademark thick-rimmed black glasses just before my arrival, Lorraine Tighe appeared a tad flustered.

Nevertheless, she looked stunning, wearing a short black and white floaty tunic, black tights and heels - she is a far cry from the somewhat dowdy figure she cut on the programme.

She has lost two stone, her skin and hair looked great and she appears years younger.

Having come fourth in the show, which attracted 9.2 million viewers for the final, the Irish born 36-year-old has spent the past eight months since filming ended re-establishing normality in her life.

She said: "It's a real surreal experience to go from somebody that nobody knows to being on a major show with the paparazzi knocking on your door. I get recognised a lot and get asked for autographs. But I received so much bad publicity.

"You get dropped like a sack of potatoes as soon as the show ends. I have remained focussed on what I wanted to do afterwards which is working for a big charity, but some of the other contestants aren't coping well. They thought they would be television stars or have loads of job offers so they have been disappointed when that didn't happen."

The show was filmed over seven weeks with a punishing schedule of 20-hour days, completing back-to-back tasks in a highly competitive environment compounded by mistrust and sheer exhaustion.

"They don't pick the best business minds in the UK to go on the show, of course they don't," the keen sportswoman said. "They pick people who can cope with the pressure. The people who go on it have guts and determination to the extreme. It is all live, it's not set up.

"We would be woken up at 4.30am or 5.30am at the latest and then work until 1am or 2am. It was so exhausting. You maybe had one day off in seven, but then you had to film the treats. I won the most treats, but it got to the point when I didn't want them, I just wanted a lie-in."

Ms Tighe was fired in Week 11, just one week before the final when Sir Alan Sugar chose to hire restaurateur Yasmina Siadatan.

Of the winner, she said: "Yasmina was so arrogant at the beginning. The first thing she said to me was 'I'm going to win', but she grew on me by the end of the show and I did on her. I spoke to her yesterday - she is starting the job next week and is very excited. Good luck to her, she is a deserving winner.

"I have no doubt if I had gone on it when I was 26 that I would have won. I don't have regrets about going on it, but in hindsight I should have had more self-confidence."

It is easy to see why her self-esteem took a battering. Tighe was the victim of relentless tabloid attention and vindictive internet posts which slated her appearance.

A group set up on social networking site Facebook had reams of posts from viewers calling her 'ugly'.

She said: "Don't feel sorry for me, feel sorry for the people who set up these groups. It doesn't bother me. It doesn't touch the sides. People said 'she's so ugly, who would touch her with a barge pole?' I have never taken a good photograph. I always look bad.

"It's funny because now I have over 1,000 e-mails from men, from all over the country all saying lovely things. I'm not interested though. I am not here for the amusement of men. I hate the dating scene - maybe I'm too old for it although I'm not saying I will never have a romance again."

Raised as a strict Catholic in Ireland, the divorce from the father of her children Theodore Apostolov, had a devastating effect on her and she wonders whether she will ever get over it.

"I got married for life. I can't understand it when people have divorce parties," she said. "There are no winners. It's been two years since my marriage broke down and I'm still grieving. I don't think I'll ever get over it. That was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life and I don't know when I'm going to accept it."

It is clear that family means a lot to her and it was those values which endeared her to Sir Alan Sugar.

She said: "He was extremely intimidating and scary throughout the whole process. You only ever see him in the board room and he couldn't connect with candidates because he had to make an unbiased decision. But I spoke to him after the show off camera and he is actually very nice.

"He has been married to the same person for 40 years and has never been unfaithful. A man that is so famous and so rich, but has so much loyalty speaks volumes about his character and I really respected him for that." Tighe now wants to use the fame she garnered on the programme to launch a career in charity work. She has already done some work for Meningitis UK, an organisation close to her heart after her daughter Alexia, five, was struck by the killer illness when she was just two years old.

She said: "I know it's reality TV and it will be over soon. I just want to make the most of my platform while I have the opportunity and use it to do something that I really want to do. I have always done charity work, but this is my dream job and I want to go for it."

* For more information about Lorraine Tighe see www.iamlorrainetighe.com.

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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