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‘I'm representing all of us’: Pharmacist speaks of his time on The Apprentice

After getting the boot from Lord Sugar’s boardroom last week, Navid Sole tells C+D how he brought his experience as a pharmacist to the show and his vision for a successful pharmacy business.

This year not one, but two professionals with a background in community pharmacy have battled it out on The Apprentice in a series of businesses challenges.

Harry Mahmood, a C+D award winner and former relief manager at Well Pharmacy in Darlaston, West Midlands, was the first to be unceremoniously fired, with Mr Sole following suit two weeks later (January 20) after being accused of not pulling his weight in last Thursday’s challenge to create a non-alcoholic drink.

Mr Sole, a 27-year-old pharmacist based in London, refers to his experience on the show a “roller coaster”.

“You have to experience it for yourself to really understand,” he tells C+D.


Representing the profession



For Mr Sole, The Apprentice was a “fitting” platform to bring pharmacy into the national spotlight.

It was important to him to call attention to the work pharmacists have done throughout the pandemic, he says, because “we've been in the frontline, in the community helping patients, protecting patients”.

He felt “frustrated” that pharmacy was sometimes overlooked for the support it has given to local communities over the past two years.

“I respect all pharmacists”, Mr Sole says. “We've been working so hard during this pandemic, and we really haven't got much appreciation”.

“I think [The Apprentice has been] a good stepping stone to put pharmacists out there in the media,” he explains.



What is he proud of achieving on the show?



As the first pharmacist to compete on The Apprentice, Mr Sole felt some responsibility in representing the profession.

He felt he was able to do that by being himself, he explains, and “being true to who [he is] as Navid”.

“By being respectful, being kind, I'm showing how we are as healthcare profession, I'm representing all of us”, Mr Sole continues.

He hopes that pharmacists watching the show are “all happy with [him]”.

The politeness ingrained in him from working at a pharmacy ultimately acted against him, Mr Sole says.

“Because I've been working in a pharmacy every day, I've always got that professional side of me where I'm always polite and helpful”, he explains, which was hard to shake “in an environment where everyone is basically competing with one another”.

He wishes he could have spoken up and tried “to defend [his] corner much more,” he says.

In The Apprentice’s companion discussion programme You’re Fired!, which aired last week, comedian Shazia Mirza defended Lord Sugar’s decision to fire Mr Sole, saying: “Navid, you are just too nice”.

She described how Navid deferred to team captain Sophie Wilding’s decision to have someone else pitch their non-alcoholic drink to interested parties. “Sometimes in business you have to be ruthless, and you have to fight for your voice to be heard,” she said.


A “successful pharmacy business”


Mr Sole’s family owns two pharmacies in London, one near Harley Street, central London and the other in Harlesden, north-west London.

“My vision [in going on The Apprentice] was mainly to try to expand on the pharmacy business and have more branches around the UK,” he tells C+D. 

“I’m not gonna lie,” he adds. Appearing on the show was “good for business as well”.

“It's good publicity.”



Independent prescribing is about “making ourselves stand out”


Mr Sole also completed an independent prescribing course in March 2021, two years after graduating from Kings’ College London.

He took the course, he says, to prove that “pharmacists are not just people who just grab medications from the shelf and give it to patients”.

“It’s worth doing the prescribing [course] because [as pharmacists] we've got so much knowledge when it comes to medication,” he says.

While Mr Sole’s stint on The Apprentice may have ended far too soon, his enthusiasm for a longer professional life in the pharmacy realm is not on the wane.


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