THE parents of Southampton Apprentice hopeful Joy Stefanicki have taken a tough business decision of their own.

Last night, PR girl Joy escaped Lord Sugar’s axe in the opening programme of the BBC TV series after her team emerged victorious in the first task.

The 32-year-old, who runs her own marketing firm, will continue her quest for the top job following a win for the female hopefuls who were dispatched in the middle of the night to buy meat before making and selling sausages on the streets of London.

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But as Joy enjoyed TV success her Ower-based parents Noah and Carol Stefanicki, have decided to close their city centre handbag and jewellery shop because of tough trading conditions.

The couple have been at the helm at Pippa Janes in Portland Street, Southampton for four years and will continue to run the business without a shop front. Mum Carol told the Daily Echo: “We are really excited about Joy being in The Apprentice, she has made us all very proud.

“We have decided to close Pippa Janes and rent out the property because during the last 18 months we have noticed that customers are looking for cheaper products rather than the designer goods we sell.

“We have been running Pippa Janes successfully for four years and are still in business selling handbags and costume jewellery at private parties – which is exactly how the shop first started out. It just seems the sensible decision.”

Joy, pictured, is now competing against 15 others for a £100,000 salary job at Lord Sugar’s side. A former pupil at Sherborne House school in Chandler’s Ford, Joy worked at TGI Friday’s at West Quay for a year after finishing her degree at Cardiff University.

She now lives in Birmingham while running Joyous Communications.

Joy’s sister Pippa, who lives in Totton, has set up an internet campaign backing her as the winner.

● Dan Harris, a 34-year-old sales director from Oxfordshire, became the first candidate to be voted off The Apprentice last night. Joy’s quest for the title continues on BBC One at 9pm next Wednesday.