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Monday, 8th October 2007

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Harrogate mum set for Apprentice final

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By Graham Chalmers
A HARROGATE single mother is just one week away from potential victory in BBC TV's hit show The Apprentice.

In front of a TV audience of millions on Wednesday night, 35-year-old Kristina Grimes managed to avoid those chilling words "you're fired" from Sir Alan Sugar.

A nail-biting episode saw her make next week's final after hated arch-rival Katie Hopkins dramatically turned down a place at the last moment.

One of five remaining contenders battling it out for a £100,000-a-year job with the Amstrad tycoon, Kristina survived a day of tough face to face interviews in this week's show.

Before The Apprentice, Kristina was the regional sales manager for a pharmaceutical company managing a team of reps across Northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A self-proclaimed battler, after falling pregnant at 17, she defied pressure to have her baby son Graeme adopted and left her home in Northern Ireland to raise the child on her own.

Kristina, who has lived in Harrogate for five years and likes horse riding, seemed to be doing well this week when she won rave reviews from the judges for her determination and all-round ability.

She told them:"I'm relentless. There's no way anyone can say I can't do something because I’ll turn round and prove them wrong."

Despite her strong performances throughout the 12-week series, described by Sir Alan himself as "a job interview from hell," Kristina found herself in a crunch moment in the boardroom.

With tension high and just two places up for grabs, she was one of three favourites, along with the series' most controversial figure, the unashamedly ruthless Katie Hopkins.

But her place was secured in a surprise twist when Hopkins, a brand consultant from Devon, who was sponsored through university by the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, told Sir Alan she was unable to give him the commitment he needed for the job because of family reasons and pulled out of the popular show.

Viewers heard how Kristina, who cites Sir Alan as a major
influence on her career, worked her socks off to get through her university Maths Degree while caring for her son who is now 18, who has also gone to university.

She said: "At the time I had my son, girls were sent away to hide their pregnancy. Once they gave birth, they gave up their babies and went back as if they had never been pregnant. I was the only one who kept my child. In my mind I felt I had to live by my mistakes; not that I felt Graeme was a mistake."

With the field narrowed down from 16 to two, Kristina will now go head to head with fellow contestant Simon Ambrose, a Cambridge graduate, in next Wednesday night's final for the prize of becoming Sir Alan’s apprentice.

Whatever happens, she has already gone further than North Yorkshire’s Paul Tulip, a head-hunter for a company based in Harrogate, who finished fourth in last year’s The Apprentice.
Last Updated: 07 June 2007 12:08 PM
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