Sugar: you're not hired

Picture of Lord SugarTV show The Apprentice has reached its mid point for the year but there's bad news for Lord Sugar - about two thirds of entrepreneurs say they wouldn't want to work with him.
The survey is published by the Yourbusinessyourfuture website, which asked over 200 entrepreneurs and found that 64% of them wouldn't want to have his Lordship as a partner.

It's actually worth doing a bit of sanity checking on those figures, although there's a useful underlying point. The idea that he might not make a good partner is certainly important when the prize for the winner is a 50% stake in a company into which Lord S will pump £250,000.

Small sample

The first thing to stress is that 200 people is not a representative sample when there are around 4m businesses in the UK. The second is to look at the reasons they gave.

He is apparently dictatorial, autocratic and comparable - according to some respondents - to Genghis Khan and Adolf Hitler. This I tend to file under "some people will say anything to attract attention in a survey" - Lord Sugar has to the best of my knowledge never attempted an invasion of another country, for example. And frankly comparing someone who is Jewish to Hitler, even this many years after the war, is in horrific taste when all you mean is you just don't like his business style.


There's no doubt that he's a belligerent type, and his own autobiography offers a number of insights into his lack of small talk and social graces.

This is of course why he makes good TV, but it's worth stressing that we see an hour's programme based on a task and a firing session - presumably the boardroom sessions themselves last longer than the resulting TV programme. The producers and directors will of course show the liveliest bits.

There's an underlying truth, though, that business doesn't have to be this aggressive. Numerous business leaders have criticised the style and there have been documented cases of people trying to sack people without due process, just saying "You're fired" because they've seen it on the telly and were daft enough to think it's how real life works.

Those are serious issues. This latest survey, like the programme on which it's based, is entertaining enough; 120-odd people being gobby enough to compare a major Jewish businessperson to Hitler isn't something to which I'd attach much weight.

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