What’s It Like To Be On Reality TV? Dillon St Paul On Facing Lord Sugar On The Apprentice

"You really can't trust anyone."

Reality TV can be a launch pad for a successful career in the public eye or a stint that hinders your profile, rather than helps it. In this three-part series, STELLAR chats to Irish reality TV stars about their lives post-telly – next up is Dillon St Paul, who appeared on Fade Street and series 12 of The Apprentice UK

“My involvement in reality TV was all sort of accidental. STELLAR [where Dillon worked as Art Director at the time] happened to be the place Fade Street was filmed and I naturally just became one of the supporting characters. The Apprentice happened because I was getting a bit bored of the same old same old and fancied an adventure. I said to myself ‘what would I like to explore?’ The answer was TV and I’d been sitting on this business idea for an app I’d created for a while, so I combined the two and applied.

Reality TV is the most amazing thing and the hardest thing you could ever do. During the interview process for The Apprentice it was so protracted and intense that by the end you want it so badly you are kind of already mentally trained to accept the strict rules you’re presented with. It’s like you’re reminded that thousands apply and you are given this great honour/opportunity, so now you better do what you’re told. There’s so much that viewers don’t see.

A high point for me was forming intense friendships. The low point was realising some of those relationships were completely fake once filming wrapped. You really can’t trust anyone. A lot of the people that you film with are out for themselves. That might sound clichéd but I can’t stress how weird it is when you start to notice it during filming in the later stages.

I was my most authentic self on the show and I got all positive feedback when it ended. I prided myself on being kind to all the others and always doing what I felt was right even if that meant going out on a limb in the board room. They labelled me ‘nice’ in the edit and that was fine with me. The good thing about being true to yourself and maintaining integrity is that when I watched it back I felt okay with how I was because it was just me. I’d hate to think how much of a mindf*ck it is for people who pretend to be someone they’re not and then come off badly.

I was well versed in the Twitterverse before I went in, so I just paid attention to directly tagged tweets. Some people I knew searched their name, I never did that. The producers warned you not to. They call it ‘ego surfing’ and it can backfire if you find bad stuff.

Career wise, working in magazines and editorial, it hasn’t really affected me one way or the other. Most people in magazines have some experience in media and so I think it was just seen as I saw it myself; as a sort of sabbatical adventure. I’ve only ever experienced positive feedback from people on the street especially in the UK where I am quickly recognised from the minute I arrive in the airport. In Ireland there aren’t as many of those encounters and that suits me fine!

My reality TV experience was overall positive. I learned a lot about myself and more what I’m capable of. I can hold my own with a big bunch of alpha males screaming and shouting and I did it on camera whilst keeping my cool. I also got used to hearing my voice back, something I hated on Fade Street initially. I learned to accept how I look too because seeing yourself from all angles takes getting used to. It’s opened doors in the UK with Lifetime TV, I’ve written for Heat magazine, the London Evening Standard and I made many friends from other TV shows.

I’d definitely consider more TV in the future but it’s important that it ties in with my career in some way. If you’re thinking of doing reality TV tread carefully. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done but if you’re not careful, it can so easily flip and be the worst.”