Mixed feelings for Peterborough Apprentice star Khadija Kalifa after ‘firing’ but business is on the up

Khadija shows off a hair curling gadget as she tries to sell it to TV shopping channel viewers  - (C) BBC
Khadija shows off a hair curling gadget as she tries to sell it to TV shopping channel viewers - (C) BBC
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Peterborough businesswoman Khadija Kalifa said she was pleased with her performance after making it to the final five of The Apprentice - but there was a tinge of regret that she did not quite make it to Sunday’s final.

The boss of eco-friendly cleaning firm Opal and Pearl was given the chop by Lord Sugar last night after the gruelling interview stage, leaving her with mixed feelings as she was not far away from becoming the entrepreneur’s next business partner.

Claudine Collins interviews Khadija about her business plan   - (C) BBC - Photographer: Grab BBC One

Claudine Collins interviews Khadija about her business plan - (C) BBC - Photographer: Grab BBC One

The mum of two, who grew up in Hampton and attended Bushfield Community College, was one of three candidates told “you’re fired” on yesterday evening’s show after being grilled about her business plan, which was said by the interviewers to be overly optimistic.

But Khadija, who has already seen interest in her company grow from being on the BBC reality TV show, was delighted to have made the final five.

She told the Peterborough Telegraph: “I’m very pleased to have made it that far. Obviously there’s an element of wishing I had made the final, but I’m excited by what’s to come.

“I think at that point I was grateful to be in the final five. If I made the final, great, but if not then still, great. If I had gone before the final five then I would have been gutted.

“I thought I had proven myself and thought I had the most experience of the candidates. I was slightly optimistic in my business plan but you should always be overly optimistic.

“That was probably my downfall. I also did not put my products in the business plan. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

“But the interviews were great - I like a bit of a debate! Myself and Linda (Plant) went at it quite a lot which was fun.”

Winning as project manager on week two was Khadija’s highlight from being on The Apprentice, and reflecting on her experience she said: “It was difficult being on the show as I have two small children and I missed them and my partner a lot, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

“I’m still looking for investment and the business is going in a slightly different direction with more commercial cleaning.”

Asked how big she sees her business going, Khadija replied: “Global.”

Her firm, which has relocated from the Allia Future Business Centre at the Peterborough United stadium in London Road to next to Royal Mail in Orton Southgate, is about to launch its new rhubarb-scented air freshner and handwash which can be delivered through letterboxes, while being on The Apprentice has helped promote her business to a wider audience.

“I had a message this morning from someone who has 45 properties in Peterborough and they want to talk about cleaning,” she added.