The Alan Sugar story is a real-life rags to riches business story. From selling cigarette lighters and TV aerials off a barrow in London’s street markets to founding the home electronics group Amstrad in 1986 – the same year he married his wife Ann, Sugar really hasn’t looked back.
At its peak Amstrad achieved a stock market valuation of £1.2 billion but the nineties proved a troubled time. In 1997 Amstrad divided into Betacom and Viglen and in 2005 his business empire was estimated to be worth £700 million and he was worth 25th on The Times Rich List.
The headlines about Sugar moved from the business pages to the sports pages after he and Terry Venables got together to buy Tottenham Hotspurs in 1991 but he was never really comfortable running a football club and later sold out.
A man with strong family values and a ‘silent’ supporter of many charities Sugar’s life went the full circle when he was knighted in 2000 but it was his entry into the world of reality TV that has put him firmly in the public spotlight.
In the show, which is based on Donald Trump’s successful US show The Apprentice, he shows the tough non-nonsense side of his personality when he tests 14 apprentices and each week he fires one of them. The one left standing wins a job in his organization.
His performance is now being compared with Donald Trump – the US business tycoon is smooth and confident in front of the cameras, but Sugar wins hands as a more credible tyrant.
It could be the case that the gifted amateur has the edge over the well-honed professional when it comes to speaking in public.
You can see Sugar in his second series which starts tomorrow on BBC 2 – make up your own mind.
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