HILARY Devey is a successful businesswoman and could go anywhere in the world – but she loves nothing better than returning to her hometown of Bolton to see old friends.

The former Bolton Grammar School pupil has not only a proven track record of being a shrewd business woman, but she has also fronted an array of successful TV shows relating to helping entrepreneurs, company bosses and youngsters who want to get on the career ladder.

Hilary, who served in the Royal Air Force before moving to London and making her fortune launching Pall-Ex – a palletised freight network – kick-started her TV career in 2008 with a stint on Secret Millionaire followed by The Business Inspector in 2010, then a years later as a no-nonsense investor on Dragons' Den.

From there she fronted Hilary Devey’s Women at the Top, Hotel GB and The Intern before her latest offering Running the Shop, which started last Tuesday, which features failing businesses that are taken over by its employees.

Hilary, aged 58, said: “The show is all about getting the workforce to take over the running of the business. Generally when a workplace is in trouble they bring in really good ideas to improve it.

“The best people to offer advice are those who work there with the customers.

“They are all medium sized companies with about 300 people. In the show, the boss leaves the business and the staff take over the running of it with my guidance. Some people have worked for the company for 20 years and all they have done is the same position, such as stacking shelves.

“Being part of changes to their workplace lifted their confidence. I mother them a little and keep them motivated and keep them going when they worry that they can’t do it. I’m the one that says, ‘have you really thought this through?’”

Hilary is keen to pass on her experience to others on her TV shows – despite being a little camera shy.

She said: “People find it hard to believe I am actually quite shy. I do get into it [being in front of the camera] and try not to think about me. The show is about them and I have to think about how they feel in that position and pass on my pearls of wisdom because I have probably been there myself in the past.

“I love the documentaries – although The Intern I wasn’t keen on to be honest.

“I didn’t know at the time that they were going to put actors in the programme.

“The one I am proud of from that show is young Georgia who was a single mum who didn’t think that she was capable of doing anything – but she did, and now she is a manager of a large hotel organisation. That would never have happened without the programme.”

Hilary comes from a family of businessmen and businesswomen.

Her father, despite being declared bankrupt when Hilary was just seven-years-old, moved into the pub and hotel sector, managing Tonge Moor Labour Club and a hotel in Farnworth.

Hilary said: “I think [her upbringing] gave me a sense of aspiration and the power to endear to people. I can get on with anybody and I like to listen to people.

“People in Bolton are very good – I still have nights out there with old friends. Recently I was at the Retreat in Chorley New Road which was great fun. I do miss the town.

“One thing I would love to do is to come back home and present the Bolton and Bury Business Awards. I want to do it for Bolton as it will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Running the Shop is on Channel 4 on Tuesdays at 8pm.