The Apprentice: 'I prayed to avoid boardroom firing in week one'

Virdi, an Asian man wearing a black turban representing his Sikh faith. He is wearing a white shirt, navy tie and dark suit, with the background of large skyscrapers in the city of London.
Virdi is the first turban wearing Sikh man to appear on The Apprentice

If there's one situation where the phrase "say your prayers" applies, it's staring down Lord Sugar in the Apprentice's boardroom.

And it's where Virdi Mazaria found himself at the end of the latest series' first episode.

The 24-year-old took up the unenviable role of project manager in the opening task of the BBC One show.

And after leading his fellow hopefuls to a loss and the prospect of a first-week firing, Virdi turned to a familiar presence in his life.

You might have seen his lips moving, which Virdi reveals was him murmuring "Waheguru" - meaning "God" in Sikhism.

"I started to pray. You can see the red eyes and me getting very emotional," he tells BBC Asian Network.

"I thought 'God, this is in your hands'. And I kept saying Waheguru again and again.

"'If you think I deserve to get fired, then fire me now. And if you feel like I deserve to stay, keep me in'.

"And I stayed in, so I feel like the power of God is what helped me stay in the process," he says.

'I'm actually a nice guy'

Virdi, from Leicester, is the first turban-wearing Sikh contestant in the history of the show, which he says is a big deal for him.

"But it's a lot bigger than just me," he says.

"It's for people who look like me to understand you can make it in this industry, no matter how you look."

He admits people are often reluctant to show their faith openly, but that it helps him both in life and business.

"Prayer is having the belief in something," he says. "I know when things go up or down, I've got the power of religion with me."

Virdi, an Asian man wearing a dark blue suit and maroon tie, and black turban, sitting in the middle of a boardroom between contestants Steve Darken and Oliver Medforth who are also wearing dark
Virdi survived a first week firing after being in the bottom three

When he's not wearing a business suit, Virdi can be found behind a mixing desk.

Performing as DJ Virdi, he's appeared on BBC Asian Network and produced a track for the late Sidhu Moose Wala, a prominent figure in the Punjabi music scene.

"Music has always been the forefront, it's what I am. But what runs behind that is my business mindset," he says.

"I wanted to go on the show to let people know I'm not just a music artist, I'm also a businessman."

His business plan involves introducing Lord Sugar to a lucrative industry that he's not known for - music.

"I really feel like in the past few years, the representation of Asian culture in business is rising."

For that he credits the entrepreneurial spirit of Asians - such as his dad - who have come to the UK with very little but managed to start a business.

"I'll be honest, the way my dad worked is a lot harder than the way I'm working right now," he says.

He also thinks seeing six Asian contestants on The Apprentice this year will send a strong message.

"I feel the show can show people that if you are Asian, you are credible and can be useful in different industries," he says.

Virdi, an Asian man wearing a black turban representing his Sikh faith. wearing a grey tshirt. He's on DJ decks with multiple wires, buttons and faders.
With a background as an auditor and DJ, Virdi is hoping for some hits in the boardroom

Like all the hopefuls, Virdi's aim is to win Lord Sugar's mentorship and £250,000 investment.

After his - possibly - miraculous escape from the sack in episode one, Virdi says the first task showed "a side of me that is not usually who I am".

"You're under pressure and you start making decisions you probably wouldn't do in the real world," he says.

"So it was hard for me coming out of it and watching that episode. I was like: 'Wow, am I really that bossy?'"

But he insists he's "really not that arrogant, I'm actually a nice guy".

He's not giving away any spoilers, but Virdi says being in the show at all is the most important thing.

"For people who are from an ethnic minority background to be like: 'If Virdi's done it, there's no reason why I can't do it'," he says.

Episode two of The Apprentice airs at 21:00 on Thursday 8 February on BBC One.

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