I ruined university with gambling and escort work

Edinburgh University
September 2001 to May 2005

I have always found it difficult to embrace an independent lifestyle. Throughout my school years I thoroughly enjoyed being under pressure to produce results. I always needed an aged disciplinarian standing over me, his putrid coffee-breath emanating from above, to give me the impetus to do my best. During my years in Edinburgh I had a troubled time. It was well-documented in various newspapers during my stint on the Apprentice that I had a rather colourful career as an undergrad.

It had all the makings of a TV melodrama: “Young man at top university gets involved in having sex for money after becoming addicted to gambling.” It’s not exactly the story you want to tell your kids.

But I would like to bestow a little advice on what not to do if you want to keep on the straight and narrow while studying for your degree.

Some people are just not cut out for student life. What has always motivated me from the age of 18 has been an aggressive need to make bundles of money through the world of business.

I never wanted to go to claustrophobic student club nights or eat Cheerios three times a day just to be economical. I would do and eat whatever I wanted and no feeling of having to adhere to the common student stereotype would perturb me.

Unfortunately, due to my proud nature I refused to get involved in group activities, labelling them as beneath me, and consequently I felt increasingly isolated.

Even if you do not fit the bill of the quintessential student, you have to get out there and exhaust all possibilities before turning to self destruction — as I did.

There are various temptations that emerge during one’s university epoch. Everything is worth trying once as long as you wake up the next day with all your organs intact, but if you have an addictive personality there may be trouble ahead.

I always liked the occasional flutter but I never realised how much I loved the world of gambling until I entered a casino in my final year. I must have spent every waking hour trying to outsmart the blackjack dealer and the rest of my time crying into a pillow hating myself for wasting the best years of my 20s.

I felt totally out of my depth, unaware of the distinction between right and wrong.

Playing the role of the anti-student, I spent my time in casinos and then later as a male escort. It was my way of putting the middle finger up at student unions and academic tutorials.

Now that I am a little older I regret my conceited disposition. I took myself too seriously and was completely self-unaware. It cost me my happiness.

I recommend if you are at university you attend every single party, committee or event you can — whether you are invited or not. This way, even if you’re a self-confessed narcissist like me you will stand a better chance of having a quality experience.

Michael Sophocles was a contestant in the 2008 series of The Apprentice

Last updated: 10:46am, September 28 2010