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Lord Sugar: You’re a pussycat

October 10, 2010

I watched The Apprentice for the first time ever last night after a strange turn of events on the internet hours before.

Lord Sugar was reported as saying something a bit ‘full on’ to utterly gorgeous mumsy-like Channel 4 presenter Kirsty Allsop. The Location, Location, Location presenter and former Celebrity Apprentice victim had said something accusatory about Alan Sugar and how he interacted with his TV production team. Sugar felt a little bit hot under the collar about it and tweeted as such. In the space of only a few minutes an online spat had ensued. Observers like me rubbed their hands together with glee.

I’m not a huge fan of Alan Sugar. There’s something incredibly annoying about him. I don’t know what. I don’t know him. I’ve never met him. I know precious little about him. But that doesn’t stop me from having an opinion about him based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever. The fact is, I know that if I met him I probably wouldn’t like him. He wouldn’t have to say very much. What I am sure of however, is that as soon as he uttered anything I’d feel vindicated. That’s the kind of shallow, ill-informed, predictably judgmental thirty-something I am.

I indirectly communicated these feelings on Twitter as soon as I became aware of the ‘spat’, first questioning the authenticity of the @Lord_Sugar Twitter account then scoffing at the way one of my colleagues at the BBC confirmed it was the real Alan Sugar tweeting his rebuttal to Kirsty Allsop. Merely saying that ‘it must be Lord Sugar’ because it was reported in the Daily Mail seemed as unlikely a justification as it was surreal. It wasn’t until a handful of other people said the same that I reluctantly came around to the notion that it really was Lord Sugar tweeting after all.

I was resolute. If it was Alan Sugar tweeting then that just about backed up my opinion about the man and – by extension – the newly launched series of The Apprentice. Now in its sixth series and with a healthy following on Twitter as well, The Apprentice takes 16 wannabee business tykes and offers them to the wolf that is the executive wotnot director chappy Alan Sugar. They run around like idiots trying to keep Sugar sweet (geddit?) and at the end of it he sits there, spouts and passes judgment. Who knew you could spin that idea out over an hour? Who knew that doing so would result in the programme reaching its seventh series? Surely, this is just a shameless vehicle for Alan Sugar who – given his millions – you’d think wouldn’t need to be on TV anyway.

In my mind I returned to the very thing which had set off my unexpected interest in Alan Sugar and The Apprentice. Why, on a quiet Saturday morning had the Twitterverse got all excited by his utterances. Was he really annoyed by Kirsty Allsop or was he – just maybe – flexing his muscles and doing a spot of extra PR for the new series?

Or worse, was his eager PR representation flexing its muscles on his behalf to promote the new series of The Apprentice? Was this in fact yet another example of the blurred line separating deskbound journalists and over-active and tiresome PR consultants? (Who’s worse? YOU decide!)

My rapid thought processes led me to one conclusion – the preconceived idea I’d had about Sugar when I read the first tweet. I uttered the word “obnoxious” in a tweet. One person agreed. I muttered something about writing a blog post about it at which point the BBC colleague I mentioned earlier in this post, pointed out Sugar’s obvious keenness on the BBC. The sub-text was in bold and italics. I found it difficult not to amend my behaviour accordingly.

Guilt. Guilt about not having watched the programme Alan Sugar ‘stars’ in and yet feeling more than able to form a snap judgment about the man, a snap judgment which was quite understandably negative in the extreme. Guilt. I loathe guilt. I really do.

So it’s because of guilt I ended up watching The Apprentice for the first time ever last night. Just to see whether or not the Alan Sugar in the programme bore any resemblance to the Alan Sugar I read in the spat with Kirsty Allsop.

What did I see? Little resemblance. Sugar’s appearance in The Apprentice is shockingly small, borderline insignifcant. He doesn’t pronounce. He doesn’t (at this stage at least) appear like an arse. He seems appropriately charming to the ladies (something which – I have to confess – surprised me) and doesn’t spout egotistical nonsense either. He seems like a b-story to his contestants, some of which – the slightly odd looking males particularly – more than filled the quota for mindless, fundamentally flawed egotistical idiots. The first firing was justified for sure. And I look forward to the next one. Because you all deserve to be fired (even though you’ve not been hired yet so technically you can’t be fired anyway). Mind you, this is TV. We do need to bear that in mind.

But back to the point. Lord Sugar. Is he an arse? Did his tweet yesterday bear any resemblance to the man I saw in The Apprentice? No. In The Apprentice Alan Sugar appears like a complete an utter pussycat. Adorable, almost. Which does rather make me wonder what that tweet was all about anyway. To be more specific, I’m left wondering where exactly are we getting the real Sugar? In the TV programme or via Twitter. If it’s the latter then I have a message for you Mr Sugar: Be nicer on the internet.

Mind you. Hang on on a minute. He’s got a book out, hasn’t he?

UPDATE: Seems The Media Blog may possibly have arrived at a similar conclusion about the book thing too.

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