Apprentice winner Rachel Woolford addresses allegations that her company has never made a profit since opening and reveals the “shocking” sexist hate she’s received since winning.

Chatting to hosts Bobby Norris and Ellen Coughlan on the showbiz gossip programme Access All Areas, the fitness boutique owner responded to articles in the press alleging that her business has never made a profit: “That was a really frustrating article to read and I’ll tell you why. I opened my business up in the middle of COVID. So one of those financial years that that article is referring to, I was closed for nine months. So they’re referring to three months of trade. But my rent was going out every month, I had other costs, energy costs, going out every month. So yeah, you are going to make a loss. Then the other year they’re referring to is the year I invested in my second site with my own retained profits, my own money. I’ve done myself in to try and make the second site work.”

She continued: “Naturally when you open a new site or new business, the first year you do make a loss. That’s business. You won’t make a profit until possibly year five. It’s taken me up until this point in my career to make a profit in my business. Why is the media bringing me down when I was 27 years old when I went on the show and I was operating a business in the middle of a cost of living crisis? I kept all my staff afloat; I kept my rent afloat. I didn’t pay myself at points to make sure everyone else was looked after. Now it’s a completely different position, the business is profitable and everything’s great. I think the frustrating thing about those articles are, yes, on Company’s House I’ve got a director’s loan of X amount, but the only person who the business owes money to is me, because I’ve lent my own business money.”

Later in the interview, the businesswoman revealed she had been a victim of sexist hate messages since winning the show: “I think there should be more representation of women in the industry. I think the thing I’ve struggled with is not realising how much some people don’t like that. I hadn’t really experienced any trolling until last Thursday when I won, and I was getting messages from men saying I’d won because I was basically completing a quota of needing X amount of women winners. I think it’s the last six years it’s been a female winner. What’s frustrating is, so what if its been six women that have won in a row? That’s an amazing thing. It’s on skill and ability and who fits with Lord Sugar. That was quite frustrating because I’d had so much amazing support and I still have it now, you know, especially the northern support, it’s been amazing but, to have those angry messages on Friday came as quite a shock actually. It’s a shame.”

Listen to the full episode, also featuring Scarlet Envy, here.