There's more to Apprentice hopeful Susan Ma than meets the eye

Susan Ma set up her skincare brand Tropic Pure Plant Skincare in 2007. In her own words: "In 2005, I had a vision to create a 100% purely plant-derived skincare range that is both effective and affordable, which would fill a niche gap in the skincare industry.

"After collaborating with cosmetic chemists, traditional herbalists and microbiologists, my vision finally came to life."

Ma started selling her range in markets around London, launching an e-commerce website in 2010. After a feature in the Sunday Mirror magazine lauded her 'Sea Salt Body Polish' as a 'Best Beauty Buy', her website was so overwhelmed with orders that it temporarily went down.

Not bad for a part-time start-up: Ma was working full time in sales and trading at Citigroup, fresh out of university.

But what better way to send your brand into the stratosphere than to get some big-ticket PR, the kind of publicity you can only find on a prime-time slot in a BBC TV show. Something like The Apprentice, perhaps.

Ma has shown herself to be a highly competent, organised individual. No surprise then, that as The Apprentice began filming, she took the time to register her company trade mark and protect her brand. She prepared for the onlaught of sales over her 12 weeks of fame.

Ma is also very careful to mention her business at every opportunity: when putting herself forward for project manager, she toted her entrepreneurial skills, talking up her skincare business and making it clear that Tropic Skincare was still open for business.

Smark cookie, this one.

Get to the final? Almost certainly.

Stick with Lord Sugar's joint venture? Jury's out.

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