Stint on TV show was just the job for Sandra’s career

In 2011, SANDRA MURPHY, briefly flirted with TV stardom on The Apprentice, and the Cork woman says it was an experience that stood to her
Stint on TV show was just the job for Sandra’s career

Sandra Murphy from The Apprentice.

WHEN I look back now, almost 10 years on since I took part in TV3’s The Apprentice, I have nothing but fond memories of it, and luckily no regrets.

Perhaps it is good to do these things without too much thought and sometimes in life work a little on impulse — and just take risks. Taking the risk, at that time, was a great decision.

When I took part in The Apprentice, I was self-employed. In all honesty, my decision was purely motivated as a marketing and sales move. It was high risk as my performance could have been viewed as positive or negative, but I decided that trying far outweighed the never knowing and always wondering.

When I submitted my application form, it was in a sea of thousands, I was acutely aware the chance of getting in was slim. So, when I was called to an interview in Dublin, I didn’t give it a second thought. I was going — and was going to do my best.

I was told the process would take place in Dublin over a full weekend. They had received thousands of applications but would call 600 for a screening interview and by the end of the weekend, they would have their final 18 candidates.

I arrived at the Europa Academy in Swords on the Saturday morning to see hundreds of other eager, excited faces. I knew I had an outside chance but decided to just enjoy the experience, I felt so grateful to even have the opportunity to get to that stage.

Sandra Murphy from The Apprentice.
Sandra Murphy from The Apprentice.

The interview process was a long, gruelling two days. There were multiple interviews, debating sessions and presentations to really test your mettle — and perhaps your resilience. It was certainly an appropriate process as it gave a little taster as to the real process.

As I left on the Sunday night, I was tired and deflated. I had done my best but was not hopeful as the experience was so challenging. Nonetheless, I was really happy I had given it a shot.

The next week, I got a call from the production company to tell me I was in the final 18 and would be joining the Apprentice House. I was stunned.

You initially meet the legal teams in Dublin and sign non-disclosure agreements, to ensure you do not disclose that you are a participant or speak about your performance until it is aired on TV.

A couple of weeks later, I packed my suitcases and headed on the train to Dublin. I handed over my mobile phone and effectively cut off all contact with the outside world. I made a story up to my friends, extended family and customers that I was taking a business course in Cornell in New York and would be back in a few months. In reality, you never know how long you will be gone. I could have been gone a week but was so lucky to make it to week 10 of 12.

Sandra Murphy from The Apprentice 2011.
Sandra Murphy from The Apprentice 2011.

The scheduling was tiring, the days were really long, there was absolutely no privacy but it was incredibly good fun. I loved every second. I just went in and was myself.

People who take part in reality TV often blame the ‘edit’ but I dispute that — if you say something, you say it. The team will only use the content you provide. Being myself just meant it was an honest portrayal of me and I was proud of my performance.

I learned so much about myself and completing that experience was one of the factors that played a part in building my character and resilience.

After the show aired, I was so grateful at the support and it really opened up many opportunities. The business turnover increased and in my downtime, I began work as an event MC and with TV3 — now Virgin Media, with whom I am still a regular panelist.

My takeaway from it all was to take risks in life. It is not a dress rehearsal, this is the main show, so play the leading role in your life story. Even though the prospect would be daunting, if I had the opportunity to do it again, I would grasp it with both hands.

More in this section

Sponsored Content


Catch up on the latest episode of Annie May and the Hit Brigade written and read by  Mahito Indi Henderson.

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more