Lord Sugar says he'll only leave The Apprentice when he gets carried out the boardroom in a coffin | The Sun

HE is currently fronting the seventeenth series of The Apprentice, and now Lord Sugar has assured fans he wants to remain on the hit show until he meets his maker.

The gruff hirer and firer may be 75 years old, but the millions of viewers who tune in each week will know he has not lost any of his enthusiasm in the boardroom.

The Amstrad tycoon, who has already signed up for another two series of the BBC One contest, does not see why his age should mean he is forced out of the role he has held since 2005.

Lord Sugar said: “If I was to finish, 20 years would be much nicer. Of course, that decision is not mine. The BBC would have to make it.

“But I’d certainly be prepared to do it at least to the 20th and if I feel fit and happy, there’s no reason why I can’t just carry on until they take me out of the boardroom in a coffin.”

‘This Elon Musk guy might start charging’

For those who think Lord Sugar is no longer on the front line of technological innovations, think again.


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Speaking to Radio Times, he said: “I understand all this s**t — it hasn’t left me behind. Trust me, I’m on top of it.”

In fact, the man who helped introduce computers to our homes in the 1980s argues his electronics are of better quality than bestseller Apple’s.

Lord Sugar said: “We made quality products. Not like this Apple rubbish where you have to change it every time they bring out a new ­number. My stuff lasted for ever.”

But there is one business model that does baffle Lord Sugar — Twitter. His candid posts, some of which have landed him in hot water over the years, have seen his followers on the social media platform exceed five million.

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Lord Sugar, worth a staggering £1.2billion, says 'there’s no reason why I can’t just carry on until they take me out of the boardroom in a coffin'Credit: Getty – Contributor

But Lord Sugar, who was knighted in 2000 for services to the home computer and electronics industry, is bemused as to how Twitter, bought by Tesla owner Elon Musk for $44billion last year, makes its money.

He said: “I’ve never been able to work out its business model. It’s got hundreds of millions of users around the world, yet they don’t charge for it.

"There is a very limited amount of advertising on it . . . I don’t understand that. Maybe this Elon Musk guy is going to start charging.”

Not that a subscription fee will affect Lord Sugar, who is reported to be worth £1.2billion. Not bad for a lad who started out selling electrical goods from a van in London’s East End when he was a teenager.

He founded Amstrad — an abbreviation of Alan Michael Sugar Trading — at 21. As well as computers, it ­produced stereos, phones, faxes and set-top boxes for Sky.

It is fair to say the company, which had a huge profile and made ­millions, never quite got the respect it deserved — as Lord Sugar is keen to point out.

He said: “We made the first videophone at Amstrad, called the E-mailer, and everyone took the ps out of it. I sold more than half a million pieces.

"It ran on an old BT copper line — if you’d have stuck that on a wired broadband, you’d have video conferencing right there. So we were ahead of the game.”

Ironically, the advent of video conferencing is something Lord Sugar might now regret given he is a fervent opponent of working from home, which relies on the tech.

He said: “The annoying thing, as far as I’m concerned, is the exploitation of the working-from-home syndrome. The truth of the matter is, you have to work with your people in your office.

“That’s why you have offices, right? You need to talk to each other, you need to know what’s going on.

“There’s all this bulls**t about working from home: ‘What difference does it make if the job gets done?’

“Well, it don’t bloody get done, it’s as simple as that.”

In the Nineties, Lord Sugar started to juggle business with another of his passions — football. He became the chairman of Tottenham Hotspur ­Football Club, and only ended his association with Spurs in 2007.

Two years earlier he had taken on the role of the beast of the boardroom on the UK version of The Apprentice, which had launched in the US in 2004 with Donald Trump as the boss.

‘Dividends far exceed my initial investment’

Initially Lord Sugar offered his series winners a £100,000-a-year job working with him, but in 2011 he switched to investing £250,000 of his own money into their business.

Some of the candidates, like Stuart “The Brand” Baggs — who died from an asthma attack in 2015 — entered the pantheon of the funniest and most entertaining characters ever seen on British telly.

Others became bonafide celebrities, including series one runner-up Saira Khan, who was a regular panelist on Loose Women and has appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and Dancing On Ice, and 2006 winner Michelle ­Dewberry, now a presenter.

Lord Sugar insists he has never “made a mistake” with the people he has hired, though he has parted company with several “business partners”.

Many of the former winners he has stuck with have paid dividends. Literally.

Lord Sugar explained: “Tom Pellereau (2011), Ricky Martin (2012), Leah Totton (2013), the dividends I’ve received far exceed the initial investments that I made in the company. So yes, I’ve made money.”

And for the critics who dismiss the 12-week competition process as pure theatre, accusing Lord Sugar of picking his favourite candidate from their business plans rather than their success in each of the weekly tasks, he has news.

He said: “I have a quick glance at their business plan in the beginning. And I form no opinions on them.

“I just look at them quickly to make sure that if they win, I would be happy to have these people as my business partner.

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"They have to win on the merits of what they’ve done in the 12 weeks.”

  • Lord Sugar is interviewed in the new edition of the Radio Times, left, out now. The Apprentice is on BBC1 every Thursday.


BARONESS Karren Brady shares Lord Sugar’s desire to remain a permanent fixture on The Apprentice.

Along with Claude Littner and Tim Campbell, who are alternating the role of his right-hand man this series, she’s been the eyes and ears of her long-time friend since series six.

The Sun columnist said: “When we started I was 39 – I’m now 53.
“So it’s been a long time, but hopefully if my health’s good and I can still do it and Alan still wants me, then I’d love to.

“It’s fun because we all get on so well. I think if you do a television show and you don’t like the person you’re working with, then that must make it quite ­stressful and ­difficult.

“Some of the cameramen have been on it from the very first show so it’s the same team of people. Everyone is super-supportive of everybody else and we all ­understand each other.

“Halfway through a series you think, ‘I’m never doing this again’ and then you kind of rally once more.

“So it’s a long and demanding show but it is good fun.”

Baroness Brady, who became ­managing director of Birmingham FC in 1993 then vice-chairman of West Ham in 2010, also suggests that the serious Lord Sugar we see on The Apprentice is not the full picture.

She said: “Same as with me, as with Tim, as with Claude, you see a more focused, serious side of all of us because that’s why we’re there.

“But Alan is actually very funny. He’s very witty, he’s great company and we have a lot in common. We talk a lot about football and other things.”

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