The last we heard of Clough (‘Cloughie’? ‘The Cloughster’? ‘Cloughborough University’?), he had been offered an interview by the big-hearted management at property website Rightmove who wanted to 'hear more about his idea'. This is following his disastrous business pitch to Alan Sugar.
His business idea – a property website – was pulled apart by Sugar’s BFF Claude ‘the Rottweiler’ Littner, who gave Clough the fatherly advice ‘you’ve got no chance’; and then again by Sugar, who called Clough ‘the right man with the wrong plan’.
This is despite, the press release reminds us, ‘being backed as the favourite to win by many viewers, other candidates and Lord Sugar’s aide Nick Hewer’. Sadly, when it came to crunch time, it was Sugar whose limp-fingered point followed him out of the boardroom.
Sadly, it looks as though Rightmove was also a non-starter. No sooner had the property industry got used to having someone with as much ‘humility, understanding and determination’ as Clough among its ranks, than the man himself has decided to postpone his new project. He wants to ‘take his time, find the right people, the right resources and get his learning cap back on’.
To be fair to Clough, the online estate agent idea isn’t on hold altogether. It’s just that, with the characteristic entrepreneurial zeal of former Apprentice candidates (see: ‘Katie Hopkins’), Clough has decided to turn adversity into opportunity.
He doesn’t want to ‘ride off the back of the media frenzy surrounding his departure’. Instead, he's ‘decided to spend some time going back to basics and giving back to the community’.
Thus, he is launching a new project: Get It Together 2013. Using the skills and expertise absorbed from Suralan during the osmosis-like process presumably undergone by all Apprentice candidates, Clough is planning to ‘[donate] his time to provide two months of free events, workshops and tools for anyone that is looking to grow a business or develop themselves’.
Says Clough: ‘I am lucky to have learnt a lot without having wasted anyone’s money (time is money, Neil!) – tax payers, investors or otherwise.
‘I worry how many people will be making the same mistakes I did without the constraints and guidance of a process like The Apprentice. While I may have failed in the public eye, I consider myself incredibly lucky and realise I could have lost much more than just "face".’
With that sort of grit and determination, MT would be surprised if Sugar wasn’t regretting his final choice, trout-faced beauty bot Leah Totton.
Still, Alan – you know what they say. ‘Tis better to have Cloughed and lost than never to have Cloughed at all.