Dressed for success: Saira enters the Celebrity Big Brother house in July
Loose Women star Saira Khan earned more than £100,000 for spending just 12 days in the Celebrity Big Brother house – but takes great pride in wearing £14 dresses from charity shops on a night out at the opera.
Khan, 46, shot to fame when she took part in the first ever series of reality TV show The Apprentice, which returned to our screens last Thursday for the 12th time. Although she did not win, Lord Sugar was so impressed he gave her a job with a six-figure salary.
Fast forward 11 years and Khan now lives in a huge £1.6million house in Oxford, has an international property portfolio worth £4million and spends a small fortune on brand new clothes from Zara every week, when she is not hunting in charity shops for vintage bargains.
Somehow, in true Apprentice style, she has also managed to negotiate a deal with car manufacturer Ford where she gets to upgrade her car for free every three to six months.
She set up her own baby skincare business, Miamoo, and recently launched anti-aging face oil for women, Saira Skin (sairaskin.co.uk). She and husband Steven Hyde, 52, have two children, Zacaria, eight, and Amara, five.
What did your parents teach you about money?
That you have to work hard for it. My parents came to this country in 1965. My father worked night shifts in a lace factory while my mother worked nine to five in a car factory. All that I, my two brothers and sister ever saw them do was work. They budgeted to put money aside for a rainy day – food and bills were prioritised and they saved up for other things.
How much pocket money did you get as a child?
None. My parents did not have any money for pocket money or things like sweets. My mum bought meat and vegetables instead. There was always food on the table but we went without a lot of luxuries.
Hands on: Saira Khan on ITV’s Loose Women
What was the first paid work you ever did?
When I was 16, I went to work with my mum in the car factory making parts for Austin Rover. I worked there in the school holidays and used the money to pay for driving lessons when I turned 17.
I remember getting my pay in a little brown envelope. It was the best feeling ever. My mum worked so hard to make us happy and that brown envelope meant I did not have to ask my mum to buy me something. I could buy it myself.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes, often. The worst time was about five years ago when two tenants in a couple of our London buy-to-let properties had to move out. Suddenly we had three mortgages to pay.
My husband’s internet marketing business was taking a while to get off the ground and I was not working because Amara was still a baby. We adopted her from an orphanage in Pakistan when she was a few days old, but I did not get any paid maternity leave because I am self-employed.
Classic: Saira, with Steven, in her charity shop ‘opera’ dress
How did you cope?
We made sacrifices. I worked out at home instead of going to the gym. We did not go on holiday or eat out.
We bought less meat and would often eat fish instead. And we saved our leftovers for the next day. It was not a problem. It was how I had been brought up.
We also increased our overdraft and used it for a few months because we had no choice. But we were never more than £5,000 overdrawn.
Have you ever been paid silly money for a job?
Yes, appearing in Celebrity Big Brother. That is the biggest cheque in showbusiness. I am not willing to disclose how much it was but I worked for 12 days and I was paid a six-figure sum.
What was the best year of your life, in terms of the money you made?
I left The Apprentice and went to work for Lord Sugar in 2005. That was a good year. He paid me a fantastic salary. We are still in touch. I have got a lovely relationship with him and also with former judges Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford, whom I see pretty often. But my favourite year was 2015. I have got amazing broadcasting jobs now and my businesses are growing.
How much did you pay for your car?
I never need to buy a car – I am an ambassador for Ford so they give me a new Ka every three to six months, for free. I wrote to Ford and put myself up for being an ambassador. They did not approach me. I felt as a business it needed the perspective of a busy mum, nipping around town and wanting a car that is economical, rather than Jeremy Clarkson. I blog and tweet about my experiences driving the new Ka models when they come out.
Do you save into a pension or invest in the stock market?
I do not understand shares and I do not trust something I fail to understand. What I do own is property and a business.
Ambassador: Saira drives a Ka supplied free by Ford
How many properties do you own?
Five. We bought our five-bedroom house in Oxford for £855,000 in 2009. It is now worth £1.6million. We are planning to spend £300,000 on it early next year and add a two-storey extension because we want some extra space.
We also own a property in Chamonix, France, which is worth £300,000, and three properties in London which collectively are worth £2million. They are all rented out. My father always told me: ‘You can’t go wrong with bricks and mortar.’ If I have money, I always buy property.
What is the one little luxury you like to treat yourself to?
Clothes from Zara. Every week, I buy a top or a skirt from there – I spend at least £300 a month. Its clothes are good quality, fashionable and reasonably priced.
If you were Chancellor of the Exchequer, what is the first thing you would do?
Increase the childcare subsidies for working mums. When I had two children in childcare, it was the hardest time in my life to work and make ends meet. Many women are trapped in that situation because childcare is so expensive, they think: what is the point of going to work? I would also give employers incentives to provide creches at work.
Do you think it is important to give to charity?
Yes. Giving to charity makes me feel good. I spend at least £50 a month in charity shops. I can’t go past one without popping in. I go to Cancer Research, Oxfam and Helen Douglas House. They all know me. I buy books, vintage clothes, jewellery and teacups. This year I went to Glyndebourne and the dress I wore cost £14 from a charity shop. I just loved telling people where I bought it.
Saira Khan was talking to Donna Ferguson.