London-based Kiwi Paloma Vivanco-Coutts, 30, is set to become a U.K household name when the sixth series of BBC’s popular reality TV show, The Apprentice, starts next week.
The accomplished telecommunications professional from Auckland, is the first Kiwi to ever make the cut on the high-rating UK Apprentice series, which attracts more than 13 million viewers each week.
Selected from over 30,000 applicants from across the U.K, Vivanco-Coutts is one of only 16 finalists to make the cut. She will join fellow contestants at a private London mansion over the next few weeks to battle it out for the grand prize: a £100,000-a-year ‘apprentice’ job with UK businessman Lord Alan Sugar.
Vivanco-Coutts left New Zealand in late 2006 where she worked in marketing for Telecom New Zealand, to travel and pursuit a career in London. She is now one of U.K’s pre-eminent telecommunications marketing professionals having worked for British Telecom (BT), Vodafone Group, Virgin Mobile and 3 Mobile.
A long-time fan of the Apprentice series, Vivanco-Coutts had always dreamt of getting a spot on the show and meeting her idol, Lord Alan Sugar.
“I applied for The Apprentice, just to see how far I would get. The interview process was long and tough, but I think my Kiwi pragmatism and no-nonsense approach to business helped earn me a place on the show,” said Vivanco-Coutts. “I’ve toughened up a lot since working in the highly cut-throat UK market, and I’m hoping the resilience I’ve gained will carry me through the next few months.”
The show culminates in what has been a big year for the energetic 30-year old, who recently married and bought a house in London.
“It’s been a hectic year so far, and I’m hoping my Apprentice experience will help me grow even more. I think it will be inspiring to be around competitive people, but judging from previous shows, it’s also incredibly demanding. I’ve got to be prepared to think on my feet, present new ideas, price, sell and pitch new products effectively, and of course impress Lord Sugar in the boardroom,” she said.
Born in Peru, Vivanco-Coutts moved with her family to the United States, Australia and eventually New Zealand where she attended college and the University of Auckland.
No stranger to fame, Vivanco-Coutts is the daughter of Dr. William Vivanco, a world-renowned geneticist and global authority in animal reproduction and genetic improvement. He is best known for heading the science and technology unit in New Zealand that produced the first cloned calf in the world called ‘Lady’, and subsequently ‘Elsie’ the cow in 1998, as a conservation effort to rescue the last surviving cow of the Enderby Islands of New Zealand. She is also the youngest sister to Mariano Vivanco, a famous New-York based celebrity fashion photographer who has worked with Naomi Campbell, Megan Fox, Dita Von Teese, Eva Mendez, January Jones, and Donatella Versace among others. Her older sister Emily Vivanco is a bright engineer that runs her own engineering firm.
Vivanco-Coutts currently lives in London and is married to New Zealander Colin Coutts, who heads up IT and Operations for Fisher and Paykel UK and Ireland.
The sixth series of The Apprentice airs in the UK on BBC One from 6 October 2010. To support Vivanco-Coutts, please visit Paloma Vivanco’s Facebook Fan Page.