Apprentice winner turns sour on Sugar

A winner of BBC 'business' show, The Apprentice, has taken Alan Sugar to court over a constructive dismissal claim, but Suralan himself is playing hardball.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The multi-millionaire tycoon is famous for his ‘you’re fired’ catch phrase, but this time he is being accused of instead saying ‘you’re constructively dismissed’. Stella English, a former contestant on the Apprentice TV show, who won the £100,000-a-year job on offer as a prize at Sugar’s Viglen company back in 2010, is suing on grounds that she was effectively forced out.

She described the job as that of an ‘overpaid lackey’ for Sugar, saying that it was clear it was not a proper job from the very first day. But Sugar, ever the rumbustious battle axe, said: ‘I believe this claim, together with its publication in the media, is simply an attempt to extract money from me.’ He said he has ‘no intention’ of settling out of court, and will only hand over any cash if the law requires him to do so.

He added that he believes the contestant thought he would be scared of attending court, and of articles concerning him or the show itself appearing in newspapers. But the grumpy badger rejected the ideas, saying English was simply ‘deluded’ and upset that her ‘time in the limelight’ seemed to have faded by the time she was working for his company.

Nonetheless, English claims that she was subjected to a four-month probationary period at Viglen before being formally announced as the winner of the show, and also that on her first day in post, the chief executive, Bordan Tkachuk, told her: ‘There is no job’. Her lawyer told the court that her employment situation after the show was a ‘PR construct’.

The hearing continues, expected to last for seven days.

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