Financial News

  • 6 March 2013, 11:17

'Apprentice' Takes Lord Sugar To Tribunal

A winner of The Apprentice is taking Lord Sugar to an employment tribunal after the 100,000-a-year job she was given left her feeling like an "overpaid lackey".

Stella English beat 15 other wannabes to win series six of the hit BBC show in 2010.

She was given a role in Lord Sugar's Viglen division, supplying IT equipment to academy schools, but said that when the business mogul told her he would not be renewing her contract she was given no choice but to resign.

She is claiming constructive dismissal against Lord Sugar, who has also been attending the hearing at East London Employment Tribunal Service.

Ms English, of Whitstable, Kent, said she had no real role at Viglen and was not taken seriously by her colleagues.

She said did not feel like Lord Sugar's "apprentice" as she only saw him five times during her 13-month employment.

Describing her first day at work, she said: "No specific duties were allocated to me.

"I was provided with a desk and a phone but that was pretty much it."

Ms English fought back tears as she said she was given no guidance about what she was meant to be doing, and was "ostracised" by her colleagues, who told her she had taken over another woman's job, which had a salary of 35,000.

Relegated to carrying out basic administrative tasks, Ms English said her employment was a "sham".

She added: "The career-enhancing opportunities that The Apprentice position had been sold as simply failed to materialise."

Her boss Bordan Tkachuk is said to have described her to Lord Sugar by saying: "Nice girl. Don't do a lot."

Ms English said the job "became increasingly untenable to continue".

She said she phoned Lord Sugar in May 2011 and asked if she could meet him.

"He made if abundantly clear that he didn't want to see me."

She said she told Lord Sugar: "I have tried so hard for so long and it's not working. I'm an overpaid lackey at Viglen."

Ms English said Lord Sugar then offered her a role in another company, which she started in June 2011.

"I decided to take up the position due to pressure from Lord Sugar who gave cause for concern that there might be adverse publicity due to me resigning," she said.

But she said she encountered similar problems in the second job.

On September 28, 2011, she said she was called for a meeting, where she was told that Lord Sugar would not be renewing her contract.

During cross-examination from Seamus Sweeney, representing Lord Sugar, Ms English admitted she had been given a "talk of doom" by the series producers, as had all the other entrants.

In it, they were warned of the potential media publicity they would get from taking part and that it was not advisable for them to leave their current jobs entirely in case they did not win.

Ms English said her employers had given her a sabbatical while filming took place, but she quit the company to go and work at Viglen.

She said she did not remember being told that the winner might not work directly with Lord Sugar, adding that she understood they had in previous series.

Ms English said that on her first day at Viglen, Mr Tkachuk looked at her with "contempt" and told her: "There is no job."

The tribunal continues.