All Fired Up Again; the Apprentice Returns to Our Screens Next Week, Where a Bunch of Would-Be Business Tycoons Fight to Hear Sir Alan Sugar Mutter the Immortal Words "You're Hired!" Matt Thomas Talks Tactics with Monmouthshire Entrepreneur Sophie Kain, below Left, Who Faced the Ultimate Boardroom Battle Two Years Ago. but Will She Be Tuning In?
IF her time in the spotlight has changed anything about Dr Sophie Kain, it's her hair. This might seem like a fairly shallow thing to focus on as an introduction to this piece, what with her PhD in quantum physics being available to discuss, but it's a really good haircut.
Her hair used to be a bit of a nothing-y mid-length cut.
It fitted in with her general look, which at the time of her appearance in the third series of The Apprentice, was edging towards the pearls-and-twinset camp.
But she now has a sleek dark bob, with a severe fringe. It's very Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction.
If her time on the top-rated reality show wrought drastic changes on her exterior, it also affected the way she thinks.
"I learned two big lessons during my time on the show," she says.
"One was that I'm not very interested in doing business in a very traditional manner, you know, where you buy something for pounds 5 and sell it for pounds 10, making pounds 5 profit. It's boring.
"And two, that if you're working for someone else, even if you do manage to make that pounds 5 profit, you're only going to end up seeing pounds 1.50 of it."
Since she left the show, having been fired by Sir Alan, more of whom later, life has apparently been anything but boring for the 34-year-old.
She has her own Cardiff-based business, which deals in "rapid response data analysis with the Ministry of Defence, I can't say much more," and is a regular on the motivational and business lecture circuit. She lives near Caerphilly by the way, "in the middle of the countryside" but doesn't keep animals as she's "allergic to absolutely everything".
Leaving the show at the point she did, the fourth week, was the best thing for her, she says.
"I don't know if you remember the episode in which I was fired," she says.
"But we had to sell ice lollies to children at London Zoo. Well these things were just chock full of sugar and I thought we were doing the wrong thing in selling them to children."
Sir Alan criticised her unenthusiastic selling technique when he fired her, and she thinks that was appropriate.
"I can't sell something I can't believe in," she says. "And I think that came across in that task.
"That way of making money, the profit-driven sales model isn't what business is about these days anyway.
But then the show's not really about business, it's a pantomime isn't it?"
But this appraisal of the programme isn't driven by sour grapes. It's simply realism, she says.
"Well look at the people they pick to go on the show. I was there as someone the nice middle-class Telegraph or Guardian reader could identify with.
That was my role.
"We were picked in order to spark off each other as well so the rows are inevitable as well. But everyone realises that it's a very artificial situation and you all make up afterwards."
The contestants from Sophie's year all made up so successfully that they're still in contact.
But one person she won't be getting in touch with is Sir Alan.
"Getting fired was terrifying. I hadn't had any sleep, that's one thing about being on the show, you just do not sleep, and I was exhausted and terrified. I have to admit that," she said.
"It was utterly terrifying but it's not like being in a real board room.
"You just can't do business like that these days. Sir Alan has a very 1950s way of looking at things. He wouldn't have lasted a minute in the job I had at the time I applied for the show, which was working for defence company General Dynamics in Newbridge.
"I think I would have found working his way very boring. But then I'm sure he wouldn't want me working with him either.
"Anyway, you have so little contact with him during the show. You see quite a lot of Nick and Margaret, who are brilliant, but hardly anything of him. …