Life & Culture

'I know what Lord Sugar is looking for’ – meet the woman trusted to grill this year’s Apprentice candidates


She is the latest person to have been brought into Lord Sugar’s inner-circle as a trusted adviser on BBC business show the Apprentice.

But Leeds-born Linda Plant is no stranger to the notoriously tough business mogul – having known him for more than 20 years.

Bolshy and direct, she made her fortune from “humble beginnings” and now runs an interior design business which boasts Hollywood and royal clientele.

She will make her TV debut tonight as one of the four interviewers who will interrogate the remaining candidates and then advise Lord Sugar on who is best placed to win a business partnership and £250,000 investment.

Other interviewers include Jewish pair Claude Littner and Claudine Collins.

Speaking to the JC, Ms Plant said she took the role in the show seriously.

“I was very excited when Alan called me and gave me the opportunity,” she said. “I am a people person, but at the same time, I knew my task was to expose any weaknesses and the find the right candidate for Lord Sugar.

“I was looking for realistic goals and expectations – Lord Sugar is not just investing in a business, he is also investing in the person. I was impressed by the candidates. I have seen a lot of CVs and interviewed a lot of people in my time. This group was very bright, but that does not mean I did not find weaknesses.

“I have great respect and admiration for Alan, and I believe I have the right knowledge and experience to know what he is looking for.”

She added: “Being part of the process was one of the highlights of my career so far. It was a thrilling and amazing experience.”

By her own admission, Ms Plant came from a modest home in Leeds, where she was a member of the Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue.

She started by selling clothes from a market stall and met Lord Sugar after she set up a knitwear company. Her firm later floated on the London Stock Exchange.

“When Alan had Amstrad and I had a knitwear company, we would meet very often in places like Hong Kong and Korea. We have been on each other’s radar for a long time,” she added.

She went on to co-found an electronics import company, which she sold for “a substantial profit”.

Former Northern Business Woman of the Year, Ms Plant, who employs 12 women and two men in her business, explained: “I am a self-made woman. I have never been afraid to get my hands dirty. I have earned the respect and loyalty of the people I work with by joining in.

“It is always tough being a woman in business because we do so much and live in a man’s world. I started out when women were not at the forefront of business as they are today.

“I operated in a man’s business world, and had to conduct negotiations in places like Korea where women were very much considered second-class citizens. I learnt a lot of lessons. I am a big advocate of women in business. My biggest regret is I never met Margaret Thatcher.”

An active member of the Jewish community, the mother-of-three lives in central London. She supports UJIA and Chai Cancer Care among other charities.

This summer she hosted an event at her home to fundraise for UJIA’s Ethiopian bar/batmitzvah programme, which raised £15,000.

Ms Plant said: “I have been lucky in life, so it is a pleasure for me to be able to give back. I am proud to be Jewish and no one could mistake my identity.”

Watch the trailer here:

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