What’s It Like To Be On Reality TV? Geraldine O’Callaghan On Life After The Apprentice Ireland

"I was being stopped by hundreds of people wanting photographs and even autographs."

Geraldine on The Apprentice Ireland

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 – the third is Geraldine O’Callaghan, who appeared on The Apprentice Ireland in 2009 and now writes travel pieces for a number of newspapers and magazines

“TV was never on my radar. To be honest I would have much preferred to take part in the competition if it wasn’t televised. I went on The Apprentice because the business I’d had when I was 24 went belly up and I was on the dole, so I needed a job and there wasn’t too much happening in Ireland then as we were on the verge of recession. I thought that if I didn’t win maybe I’d at least get a job in the aftermath. Which I did, so it served its purpose.

Working in reality TV is actually way harder than I ever could have expected. I would consider myself a grafter but even at that the hours are so long and it’s anything but glamorous. I didn’t particular enjoy my time filming The Apprentice as the amount of backstabbing was pretty hardcore and I think you’d need to be made of stone not to feel in some way hurt or insecure by everyone pointing out your flaws or trying to get you fired. I have since worked on other reality TV shows that I did really enjoy, even though the hours are always really long or I’ve had to do some crazy stuff!

Immediately after the show was quite the tornado as I was being stopped by hundreds of people wanting photographs and even autographs. It was all very full-on and a bit claustrophobic. I never minded reading stuff about myself on social media. I know who I really am and my real friends know that too so anything else is just idle gossip but I did get really hurt when someone wrote something about a member of my family that was untrue. I put myself in the public eye so I had to accept and deal with the consequences but a family member didn’t so I felt responsible that they had been gossiped about.

In general I feel that reality TV has helped with my career as working in media really helps with meeting the right contacts. Although, I’m very aware that once I’m starting on a new project or new job I have to prove myself as a serious employee and show that I don’t think that just because I was on TV that I don’t have to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in. It opened doors for me. I now write travel features for a number of newspapers and magazines which is something I would not have had the opportunity to do before I became well known for being on TV. I’ve seen places in the world that I may never have considered going to. Most recently I was on trips to Ethiopia and Cape Town that I wrote about for my website TravelAndCulture.ie.

I believe in life we should always push our boundaries and try things completely out of our comfort zone, reality TV was that for me so of course I feel it has helped me to grow. I have recently just started some salsa lessons so Dancing With The Stars could be very interesting to me!”