Entrepreneur Paul Sullivan
talks mentoring and crushing stigma
Exclusive by Steven Smith
REALITY STAR AND SELF PROCLAIMED MAN'S MAN, 39 YEAR OLD PAUL SULLIVAN BURST ON TO OUR TV SCREENS IN SEASON 12 OF THE APPRENTICE. THE ENTREPRENEUR RECENTLY HIT THE HEADLINES WHEN HE MENTORED TEENAGE BUSINESSMAN JOHN BATISTE.
PAUL TELLS STEVEN SMITH ABOUT HIS PLANS TO MENTOR OTHER YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS AND WORK WITH THE LBGTQ COMMUNITY TO CRUSH STIGMA IN THE BUSINESS WORLD - AND HE REVEALS WHY HE'S BARING ALL FOR CHARITY LATER THIS YEAR.
IT IS HARD TO IGNORE Paul Sullivan. He’s 6ft 4 inches tall, but it’s not just his stature that commands attention - with steely, Paul Newman-blue eyes, his boundless energy seems to enter the room even before he does.
My two female companions are extremely excited about meeting him, as am I. Paul’s good looks brought him an army of female fans when he appeared in the BBC show The Apprentice - and after spending only a few minutes with him, it’s easy to see how he’s become such a successful businessman. If anyone could sell snow to the Eskimos, it would be Paul.
Today, however, he is keen to chat about his latest project, educating the young.
You come from a similar background to Lord Sugar?
Well, I was born in London, in the district of Bow, and I sure didn’t have a silver-spoon in my mouth. Both my parents both worked in a bank and I went to the local school.
From an early age I had a flair math’s - they used to come test me on mental arithmetic and couldn’t believe how advanced I was.
That all stopped when I was moved to Bow Church Primary school though. I won’t go on about it; it was interesting, let’s say that. I was even an altar boy if you can imagine.
What was the first thing you sold as a kid?
Gosh, I was keen on money from an early age - my mum bought me a Charlie Chaplin piggy bank and I was rather obsessive on how things worked.
My mum always had sideline businesses, such as soft furniture and so was kind of an inspiration to me. I went to work on Saturdays at the age of 11, selling electrical goods in the local market. It gave me a good grounding.
Do you think the contestants are a bit elitist on the show The Apprentice?
Not on my series. To be honest, I think they were more publicity-seekers, as they wanted their 15 minutes of fame. I watched past series before I went in and it struck me that there weren’t many contestants that had come from Lord Sugar’s background. But I wouldn’t necessarily describe them as elitist.
Would you like to see business studies taught at an early age in schools?
More than that, I would like to see politics, finance and business all taught from an early age, as they give children skills that can really benefit them in later life.
It’s important to get kids thinking outside the box and to prepare them for life as part of the community. Kids are not being made accountable for their actions these days.