With regret, you're fired: Lord Sugar's aide Claudine Collins is selling her Belsize Park flat
PUBLISHED: 18:30 06 June 2017 | UPDATED: 18:30 06 June 2017
Media mogul and Apprentice interviewer extraordinaire Claudine Collins has the tables turned and spills all about her "happy flat"
Claudine Collins is known for her probing questions in the infamous interviews episode of BBC business reality competition, The Apprentice. Tasked with scrutinizing the character of the candidates, Collins knows a thing or two about interviews. So with the roles reversed, what did the glamorous managing director of MediaCom UK have to say about leaving her interior designed Belsize Park apartment?
“It’s very sad. I love the area,” she gushes. “I’m very sad about leaving it.” Collins has lived in the two double bedroom flat in a Victorian villa on Parkhill Road for twelve years. Why then the move? “I’ve been single for 48 years living this lovely London life,” she recalls. “Then I met a man a year ago who had three children that live with him so we now need to buy a family house and obviously need somewhere much bigger.”
She makes no attempt to hide how much she will miss the community in the area. “I know my neighbours pretty well and I know the shopkeepers well because you see the same people again and again. But I’ll just miss it…I mean, Belsize Park has got everything on its doorstep,” she says.
Close to Swiss Cottage and Haverstock Hill tube stations and equidistant from Belsize Park, Primrose Hill and South End Green, not forgetting the Heath, the flat is in a prime London location. So where does the media mogul hang out when she’s not engaging her business brain?
“Well, I just love getting up on a Sunday morning, walking into Primrose Hill, going to the Greenberry. Or walking up on a summer’s evening up to Belsize Park and just having a drink or a bite to eat. There are so many restaurants that you can just nip into. And England’s Lane, I’m in England’s Lane all the time.”
“We like the Stag so we go for a drink in South End Green,” she goes on. “It’s very nice, it’s got a great beer garden,” she laughs. A neat freak, Collins prefers to hit the town rather than entertain at home, for fear of trashing her beloved lower ground floor apartment.
“I tend to like it quiet and neat,” she explains. “I’m also quite particular. I’ve got some lovely things in there and the carpets are lovely. I don’t want them to get ruined so I think, there’s a better bar we can go to and ruin rather than coming back to my house.”
That said, she reminisces about one party for her fortieth birthday, which resulted in forty people filling the flat, and of spending Christmas Day there with her parents and godchildren.
With a separate dining room and 21ft reception area, there’s a good deal of space in which to host guests. “And it’s a wraparound garden,” she goes on. “You’ve got the side bit with a big table and a barbeque where you could easily seat fourteen. And then round the back is a beautiful, very English country garden with loads of flowers and a table and chairs for four round there. And that gets the sun all morning through to mid afternoon. It’s lovely.”
As for the interiors, Collins designed the space herself with the help of designer Jenny Lellow. “It’s beautifully decorated in my style that it doesn’t need anything doing to it,” she explains.
“Anyone that comes into my flat says oh my god this is just such a lovely feel. It is amazing.” Taking inspiration from magazines, Collins created a palette based around her two favourite colours, green and purple. When I explain that my mother has the same penchant and even the same bed runner, I have to ask whether she’s’ taking the furniture with her. “Well, maybe I don’t know,” she laughs, “I’ll let you know!”
Collins is on the hunt for somewhere bigger and closer to the school that her stepchildren attend now that her family has expanded. As for the style, she would like something pre-designed and ready to move in.
“I think it’s pretty modern,” she says of her dream home. “Modern with a homely feel. I don’t want it stark and minimalist, but I want it modern.” Whether that means a renovated period home or a new build, Collins is not quite sure. “It’s got to be one or the other but not really in-between,” she says. “Not anything old fashioned.”
The two bedroom, two bathroom apartment is described by Collins as a “happy flat”. “I know that sounds weird,” she jokes, “but I lived in a house before that was a very unhappy flat years years ago, and you could just kind of feel it.”
The home is offered share of freehold and Collins explains that the relationship works well. “We all look after the house and the flat really well. We’re all neat freaks and want everything perfect. Anything that needs doing gets done.”
Is there anything at all that Collins won’t miss? “No,” she replies quickly, “there’s nothing that I wouldn’t miss about it.” Warm in the winter and cool in the summer, the 1245 sq ft of property is a private haven for the businesswoman with a bolted front door that she says cost “thousands” and electric gates. “It’s very private, it’s immaculate,” she goes on. “There just isn’t anything not to like about it.”.
As for waving goodbye to Belsize Park, Collins is nostalgic but optimistic. “I’m really excited to start my new life and yes of course being with my fiancée and our family. I just wish I could transport my flat and make it into five bedrooms.”