Apprentice winner 'overpaid lackey'
Published 05/03/2013 | 14:51
A winner of TV show The Apprentice described the £100,000-a-year job she was given by Lord Sugar as that of an "overpaid lackey", an employment tribunal has been told.
Stella English beat 15 other wannabe apprentices to win series six of the hit BBC1 show in 2010.
She was given a role in Lord Sugar's Viglen division, supplying IT equipment to academy schools, but she 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 attended 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, while she did not feel like Lord Sugar's "apprentice" as she said she only saw him five times during her 13-month employment.
Ms English, describing the first day of a four-month probationary period she and the other semi-finalist had to carry out before one of them was declared the winner, 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 women'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."
She said she phoned Lord Sugar in May 2011 and asked if she could meet him. 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. She said Lord Sugar told her that he had given her the second role because he did not want to damage the integrity of The Apprentice or the BBC, or to harm his own public image.