Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Apprentice winner 'overpaid lackey'

Lord Sugar picked Stella English as The Apprentice winner in 2010
Lord Sugar picked Stella English as The Apprentice winner in 2010

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 heard.

Stella English beat 15 other wannabe apprentices to win series six of the hit BBC One 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.

Stella 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.

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."

Stella 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, she said her employment was a "sham" and the job "became increasingly untenable to continue". 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."

Lord Sugar then offered Stella a role in another company which she started in June 2011, but in September that year she was told that he 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. Stella said he added: "But the fact is that I don't give a s***."

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