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Hilary Devey, the millionaire businesswoman from Dragon’s Den, plans to cash in on the rising popularity of reality business television by launching a rival show on Channel 4 in which sharp-elbowed young business aspirants will compete for internships.
Ms Devey’s programme called The Intern will see candidates thrown in at the deep end to see if they have the skills to work under pressure in large companies in their chosen profession.
Ms Devey, who has signed a two-year deal with Channel 4, joined Dragon’s Den last year where budding entrepreneurs seek investment from a team of successful “dragons”.
Over the past decade reality business television has gained in popularity and achieved a level of glamour. The Apprentice, Lord Sugar’s show, has been a huge success for the BBC, with hard-nosed entrepreneurs setting business tasks for contestants.
Ms Devey, a single mother, worked in distribution for years before setting up her own haulier business transporting palletised freight. Unable to secure backing, she sold her house and car to raise the £112,000 to launch Pall-Ex.
On the first night, just 117 pallets were distributed through the fledgling network but now it is up to 17,000 pallets a night.
It is understood the BBC could not compete with Channel 4’s salary offer. A spokesman for the BBC said: “Hilary has been a formidable dragon in the den and we’re sorry to see her go.”