Two young women are challenging stereotypes of race and gender in the business world as they fight for success on The Apprentice.
The pair stand on the verge of a life-changing investment from Lord Sugar in what they have called the “year of the northern woman”.
Sian Gabbidon and Camilla Ainsworth will battle it out for a £250,000 boost for their brand.
Swimwear entrepreneur Gabbidon, from Leeds, has said that race and gender do not matter in an arena governed by business acumen.
Lancashire nut milk brand owner Ainsworth said: “We’re both northern. We’re both female. I’m 22 and Sian is 25. It’s definitely the year of the woman.”
Gabbidon added: “It’s the year of the northern woman. I think that all this stuff about gender, race and anything else – it doesn’t matter.
“Everybody has the same opportunities if they’ve got that business acumen.”
To make it to the final, the pair, selected from thousands of original applicants, have seen 16 rival candidates fired.
Both women built their brands from the ground up, and are hoping for an investment to enlarge their burgeoning businesses.
Gabbidon said the greatest challenge of the show was the lack of time to make the most important decisions.
The pair said being away from friends and family during filming added to the strain.
Both agreed that with Lord Sugar “what you see is what you get”, and that he is incredibly serious about his investment.
Gabbidon said: “How you see him is how he is in real life. He’s got a really dry sense of humour, I had to stifle a laugh a few times in the boardroom.”
Ainsworth added: “He is serious and just an all-round professional and expert.”
Both Gabbidon and Ainsworth are hoping they can make it over the final hurdle, but agreed that the process has been formative even without a cash prize.
The prize, both contestants said, is “the chance of a lifetime”.