Alan Sugar and his ‘English’ apprentice


How does this sound for a job description: £100,000 a year, no work required, turn up and look good? Stella English didn’t like this job, now she’s going to have to find a real one.

Alan Sugar, founder of Amstrad among his many other talents. This is his happy look.

There’s no pleasing some people. It’s barely a week since our useless Chancellor was whining about people sponging off the state. The prevailing wisdom – wisdom indeed – is that paid work is good, and anyone who doesn’t contract to it – bar very young children, the very old, and people with broken legs – is not worth the candle. Happily though, that mentality does not apply to the boardroom, which is probably why so many politicians and their cronies sit on the boards of public companies.

One person who was not happy with this money for old rope scenario was Stella English. Miss English was the winner of series six of The Apprentice, the UK version. For those who haven’t seen it, this is a real life soap opera in which hungry young aspiring professional business people compete for a position with one of Alan Sugar’s companies – in the US with one of Donald Trump’s.

Unlike fictional soap operas which started out as what NoŽl Coward called kitchen sink dramas, the candidates for The Apprentice aim high, although sometimes like this poor fellow, they end up being, well, judge for yourself...

Stella English did not exude his casual arrogance, so was not slapped down in such a dramatic fashion, and after winning the series in 2010, she had tears of joy in her eyes. Her reward was a salary of £100,000 per annum with Alan – heck, he’s no ordinary mister – Lord, Sugar’s Viglen. Alas, although Miss English kissed a prince, this was a fairy tale with an unhappy ending. She was she said given a desk and a phone. And? And that was about it. She did nothing meaningful. So what did she do? What anyone with intelligence, character and integrity would do: she resigned her post and sued for constructive dismissal. Seriously, would anyone do this?

Stella English, stunningly attractive but toxic, like so many white women nowadays.

That’s two mistakes, her third was not simply suing but suing Lord Sugar; she would have had better chances going face to face with a pit bull. He defended with his usual pugnaciousness saying “I believe this claim is simply an attempt to extract money from me...something I will not do”.

Er, actually you did. And she wasn’t satisfied.

Now the employment tribunal has delivered its verdict; doubtless its full judgment will be published in due course, but the bottom line is that Miss English lost her claim. So, until she finds another job, she can – subject to means testing – claim unemployment benefit or whatever it is called nowadays for doing exactly the same thing she was paid not to do by Lord Sugar. Even Richard D. Wolff could have told her that is bad economics.

[The above article was published originally April 12, 2013. A sad endnote, the hapless apprentice in the linked video, Stuart Baggs, died in July 2015 following an asthma attack. He was just 27 years old.]

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