SHE'S a formidable businesswoman and Lord Sugar's glamorous right-hand woman on The Apprentice.
So Baroness Karren Brady, 54, knows a thing or two about the pressures high-profile women face when living in the public eye.
Having overcome her fair share of misogynistic comments over the years, she is full of praise for the likes of Amanda Holden, 52, and Davina McCall, 55, who refuse to curtail their lifestyles and fashion choices because of the occasional troll insult.
In an exclusive interview, she said: "I love them both. I think what they’ve both achieved through their life is incredible.
"I think what Davina McCall has done to forward the movement of the menopause and give a greater understanding to a whole generation of women, I think, is worthy of a damehood."
Fitness-loving Davina has bravely spoken of her menopause experience, comparing it to beating heroin addiction. The presenter fronted a Channel 4 documentary Sex, Myths And The Menopause in 2021 to dismantle taboos around the menopause and has written a self-help guide.
"I have such a lot of time for Amanda," continued Karren. "I think she looks cracking, if that’s an appropriate word. She looks absolutely phenomenal, and it just goes to show if you look after yourself, you workout, you eat healthy you look incredible and I’ve got a lot of time for both of them and I respect them both."
Amanda was recently targeted by controversial influencer Andrew Tate, who slammed her for sharing bikini snaps on social media.
Earlier this year she insisted she will not tone down her fashion choices and will continue wearing sexy outfits on TV despite Ofcom complaints from a minority of Britain's Got Talent viewers.
Fortunately, three decades since she made history by becoming Birmingham City's managing director aged just 24, Karren said she no longer receives outdated comments or is derided for being a woman in the industry.
She said: "I’ve been in football for 30 years, I’m part of the furniture. I’m actually the longest serving chief exec in football so I know everybody, everybody knows me so I don’t get that.
"The '90s were an era where casual misogyny was just day to day something you had to face up to. We shouldn't be conditioned to accept it, we should be able to stand up for ourselves and put your foot down and not accept it.
"A lot of attitudes have changed. I still think we have a long way to go but it’s certainly a lot better than it was in my day. That can only be for the better."
Karren is currently focused on raising awareness around small businesses in the UK, the crucial contribution they make to the economy and the well-being of the men and women who run them.
New research from Simply Business, for whom Karren is an ambassador, found that more than half of small business owners have experienced mental health struggles in the past 12 months - up 124 per cent on the previous year.
Karren said: "One of the reasons I’m involved in the campaign is I don't think people understand the importance of small business to the country. I don’t think they understand the pressure small business owners are under. I don’t think they understand the contribution they make to the overall economy, and I think all of these things are really important that we highlight at all times.
"Part and parcel of working with Simply Business is to do research to find out what struggles small business owners are having so we can shine a light on them and try and help them.
"It’s been a tough couple of years for small business owners. The cost of living crisis remains a significant issue for them. Almost half say that’s the most glaring issue they face. They’ve got their own mental health, they’ve got late payment issues with 32 billion in late payments, and a quarter of small business owners are thinking about using their personal savings to prop up their business. So when you think about all of those things it’s a very pressurised time for them."
Businesses which experienced major challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic have seen their misery compounded by a series of economic and global issues beyond their control.
Soaring inflation and the war in Ukraine pushing up utility prices have made it increasingly difficult to operate; a quarter of business owners are spending 40 percent more on energy rates this year compared to last year.
But help is out there if you know where to look.
"Sometimes it can all become too much and too overwhelming," said Karren. "It’s better to take a step back, work out what your priorities are and work on a plan for each of those priorities and work through it logically.
"Simply Business has launched support hubs which give all sorts of advice, templates, free guides, resources, there’s a whole host of free webinars, inspiration, you can talk to like minded people. Lots of self help and tools to allow you to proactively deal with problems."
Baroness Karren Brady CBE is the Small Business Ambassador at SME insurer, Simply Business, and is part of the judging panel on this year’s Business Boost competition. One lucky entrepreneur will have the chance to win £25,000 to help start or grow their business. Small business owners have until 11 October to enter the competition: https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/business-boost/