Businesswoman Amina Khan has spoken to the Recorder about her Ilford roots and her time on BBC show The Apprentice.

The mum-of-one appeared on the popular TV series in February for its eighteenth series.

She was one of 18 candidates hoping to win investment from Lord Sugar but was axed from the show in episode three.

Since then, Amina has been sharing her post-show life with Instagram followers and continuing to promote her business Pharmacy Beauty.

Amina, the daughter of two immigrants, was the only candidate this year to represent east London.

She said: “I’ve been raised here, my schools were here, everything. Ilford is just my personality really."

Newham Recorder: Amina faced Baroness Karren Brady, Lord Sugar and Tim Campbell on the showAmina faced Baroness Karren Brady, Lord Sugar and Tim Campbell on the show (Image: BBC/Naked)

Amina attended Uphall Primary School in Uphall Road, Ilford before going on to complete her secondary school and sixth form years at Mayfield School in Pedley Road, Dagenham.

It was at Mayfield School where she heard a piece of advice that has stuck with here throughout her business journey.

She said: “I remember my headteacher saying that to me when we first started secondary school – the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life in everything is just starting it.

“Once you start it, you’re in it and can deal with it then. That’s my biggest tip.”

The businesswoman was backed by a large community during her time on the show and still receives a great deal of support from the community in Ilford.

She said: “It’s so nice the support honestly.

“I love it. I love the fact that I was the one to do that, one of the first people to do that. I love the fact that I can inspire, especially women, in this small area of Ilford.

"It is a small area you know, we’re just a little community here aren’t we? I love the fact that I’ve given them some hope and inspiration like you can even come out of this shell if you wanted to.

“Just because you’re from a small town, doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be recognised. I just feel like I’m really happy to be representing Ilford in that way."

Reflecting on her time on The Apprentice, she said it takes time to adjust to living with 18 new people and the hectic schedule.

"Your body and your mind are just like out of it, like 'what is going on here?'

"It’s critically difficult. I loved it and I’m so grateful for the opportunity."

The show sees Tim Campbell and Baroness Karren Brady follow the contestants each week in a task, before facing Lord Sugar in the boardroom.

Amina called this element of the show "scary", adding: "That part is so real.

"Tim is lovely, I love Tim but he was very serious in the boardroom.

"Lord Sugar is exactly how you see him on TV – all his you know little dad jokes, going at us.

"Karren is really scary, but she’s so professional. She’s stunning but you don’t want to get on her bad side."

Amina admitted that leaving her 18-month-old girl to take part was one of the most challenging things she has ever done.

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“I was breastfeeding her at the same time as well, so I went cold turkey on breastfeeding because I was going through all the emotions physically and mentally, emotionally. It was really tough.”

Despite not making it to the final, Amina has continued to celebrate her business’ wins. Most recently, her hormone supplement won the title of best health supplement for women in The Beauty Shortlist’s Wellbeing Awards 2024.

The businesswoman has kept in close contact with castmates, especially Onyeka Nweze, who she said kept all the girls entertained with her karaoke between takes in the iconic black cabs.

Amina said: “It was a great experience, I’m really happy to have met the girls I have.

“The thing with Ilford is that you don’t read much about businesswomen. My parents wanted me to cook and clean so I could look after my husband. To meet business-minded, like-minded women, it’s just amazing.

“I loved it and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. For me, a girl from a small town like this, it’s a big thing.”

She is keen to see more women thriving in business, especially in Ilford and gave her advice to those thinking about taking the plunge.

“We’re like a family here, we will always stand up for each other, support each other’s businesses. So, if you’re thinking of starting a business in Ilford, I would not hesitate. I say go for it.”