Bill Cullen wants to be fired into space


Bill Cullen wants to be fired into space

I have every confidence in the technology and the prototype

Apprentice boss Bill Cullen has revealed his own high-flying ambition — to fly into space.

The business guru made the admission as he addressed students at the all-girls St Mary’s Secondary School in Ballina, Co Mayo, yesterday.

And his dreams aren’t just pie in the sky — he has already signed up for one of the inaugural trips to the edge of space in a prototype aircraft being developed by Virgin multi-billionaire Richard Branson.

“I hope to make the trip in about a year,” Cullen told the students. “No, I am not nervous about the trip. I have every confidence in the technology and the prototype.” Back on terra firma, meanwhile, Cullen has many other plans — but making another series of the Apprentice is not one of them.

He explained that the show was very expensive to make and that the marketing budgets were just not there to support it. Cullen revealed: “Unlike RTE, who have the benefit of TV licence money, TV3 just could not find the funds from the sponsor so we had to leave it there... give it a break for a year.”

The Renault boss told transition year students at the 162-year-old school that they should forget about “travelling the world” before starting their career and get some work experience instead. Cullen also told the girls about the poverty of his early life as one of a family of 14 selling penny apples and newspapers on the streets of Dublin.

“We had a wonderful childhood because we made things happen,” the 70-year-old said. “You make your own luck,” he advised them. “Make things happen in your life.” The pupils at St Mary’s had won a mentoring from Cullen and his partner Jackie Lavin as a prize for the most innovative fundraising as part of Kellogg’s Fun Raise 4 Kids.

They recently tried to beat the world record for the most people doing the Rock the Boat dance, raising funds for Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin. Afterwards, Cullen described the school, which has 615 pupils and 60 teachers, as “the best school” he had ever delivered a motivational and mentoring talk at. “The girls were fantastic, full of positivity and innovation,” he said. “They are showing real determination for success in life. They are real achievers.”

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