Luxury Vegas birthday for Apprentice Bill
TV3 STAR Bill Cullen has 'hired' himself a suite in the famous Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas to celebrate his 70th birthday.
The Diary can reveal how the well-known businessman will be flying over to the glitzy American city with his partner Jackie Lavin and friends as they mark the occasion in style.
But he has insisted that they got a recession-busting deal for their trip abroad. "It's my big birthday in February so we're going to Vegas for a few days. I'm kind of combining business with pleasure because there's a big motor conference over there and I'm hoping to get a few days at that. There's a couple of friends coming with us and we're all staying in the Bellagio hotel," he explained.
"The hotels over there are fancy but you can get the whole trip, plane fare and seven days there, for about €1,200 and you're in a 5-star hotel. You can't beat it."
And he also has big plans for the year ahead, given that he's gearing up to blast off into space as a passenger on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space shuttle, the first commercial flight into space.
Bill also revealed how he's going to film a TV programme all about his experience, which will see him finally fulfiling a life-long passion as he forks out €200,000 for the privilege.
"I'm going to be the first Irishman in space. It's just so exciting to think you're 100 miles up in the air floating around and you're looking back and the earth is like an orange," he said.
"We're hoping to do a documentary and bring a camera with us. It will certainly be following me for the month leading up to it with all the training I have to do and stuff. It's a fantastic opportunity for me."
The car dealer owner has just completed filming on the fourth series of The Apprentice which saw Eugene Heary scoop the €200,000 prize.
And despite media speculation as to the future of the show, Bill is adamant that it will be back on our small screens in 2012.
"That was just stirring controversy but as far as we're concerned, Screentime ShinAwil as well as Jackie and myself, it's still going ahead. The only thing that could hold it up is a lack of sponsorship but all the rules are changed in our favour now with the product placement thing so I don't see why it wouldn't go ahead," he added.
Bill and Jackie have spent the past few days enjoying a family Christmas at their home in Kildare before heading down to Muckross where they always ring in the New Year at their Kerry bolt-hole.