The Apprentice 2023 receptionist on why representation matters

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Khadeejah KhanImage source, Khadeejah Khan
Image caption,
Khadeejah Khan is the receptionist in the latest series of The Apprentice

"You can go through to the boardroom now."

It's not quite "You're fired" or one of Lord Sugar's dodgy one-liners.

But those eight words that send business hopefuls to meet their fate have become a famous phrase on British TV.

It might not be the longest-lasting role on television, but in that moment all eyes are on the person sitting between budding entrepreneurs and bullish boss Lord Sugar.

We are, of course, referring to the receptionist on hit show The Apprentice.

This year Khadeejah Khan is in the hotseat and, as the 24-year-old tells BBC Asian Network, she's "not actually a real receptionist".

Khadeejah works in the corporate world and also models, which is how she got the opportunity to be Lord Sugar's receptionist on the show.

But her appearances have caused much excitement, with many praising the representation she provides by wearing a hijab on the show.

Her own videos about her TV experience have also gone viral, gaining close to two million views.

"The comments and support has been incredible," she says. "So many girls, even guys have come forward saying they were so happy to see [it]."

While London, where she's based, "is so diverse", Khadeejah feels that is not always reflected on TV screens.

"And I think it's been a barrier. But these barriers can be broken because of the day and age we live in.

"And just me being on the show as a receptionist, even though it's a couple of seconds.

"For me it shows the younger girls who wear hijab, who do not wear hijab, that anything is possible, no matter who you are or your background."

Image source, Khadeejah Khan
Image caption,
"And when the phone rings, everyone's quiet"

Being on TV has been "an incredible experience" for Khadeejah, who says she's been treating it like "more of a modelling job".

But she admits to feeling the nerves, even though she only has a few lines to say.

"It was my first time being on camera like that. I wasn't sure if I was speaking loud enough. I was just very shy as well.

"But I learned a lot of patience as well, because you don't actually see how much time and effort goes into a show like this. And there's a lot of waiting."

Khadeejah spent some parts of her childhood growing up in Abu Dhabi and Nigeria, before moving back to London to finish secondary school and university.

And she feels her Apprentice appearance is an important lesson for both her and others.

"If you put your mind to something, if you want to do something, you should always go out and do it.

"I hope people can relate or just be able to see that if one person can do it, anyone can."

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