Locals in no doubt that 'Apprentice' winner would be among finalists


LOCALS IN Brenda Shanahan's hometown of Charleville, Co Cork, never had any doubt that she would be in the final shake up of TV3's The Apprentice.

The bridal shop owner emerged on Monday as the winner of the contest to become businessman Bill Cullen's apprentice. The show featured 12 budding entrepreneurs who competed over three months for the chance to work with the businessman at a salary of €100,000 a year. Ms Shanahan beat Nicky O'Callaghan, a 26-year-old auctioneer, in the programme's final episode.

Publican Michael Biggane of Dinny's Bar on Main Street, Charleville, said Ms Shanahan was always energetic and full of ideas.

"Brenda came to town five or six years ago and opened a bridal shop, there was none there before. She hit the town running," he said.

He said she would be missed in the town when she moves to her new job in Dublin next month.

"What you see is what you get with Brenda . . . I felt when I saw the calibre of the competition she was going to be up against that she would be in the top three or four. I'd be very confident in her ability. Anytime we were doing anything to promote the town, she would be in with ideas," he said.

Mr Biggane said there were strong rumours over the past few weeks that she had won when she held a 50 per cent discount sale at Amber Angels on Main Street. But it was pointed out that Ms Shanahan has held a half-price sale on display dresses every year for the past four years. Yesterday, the boutique was closed for business but not due to her big win - the shop closes every Tuesday.

The Portumna, Co Galway, native lives with her family in Martinstown, Co Limerick.

Ms Shanahan will donate her first hour's wages in the employ of Bill Cullen to the Irish Youth Foundation as part of this year's Children's Hour drive. The campaign asks workers to donate one hour of their pay.

In the final episode broadcast on Monday, she and Ms O'Callaghan had to create a celebrity selling event for 3G mobile stores in Dundrum and Swords, Co Dublin, in which 3G pledged to donate the profits to charity. This was combined with a charity gala ball.

Ms Shanahan raised €19,800 for the Irish Youth Foundation while Ms O'Callaghan raised €18,700 for Temple Street Children's Hospital.

Ms Shanahan is to take up her post in January and intends to move to Dublin with her husband and three-year-old daughter.