Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story but it all gets a bit old hat after the hundredth telling. Someone needs to remind Lord Sugar of that fact. At the House of Lords yesterday, the entrepreneur recounted his for the umpteenth time: “I was born into a low-income working class family. We lived in the council estate and I was the youngest of four children.” Yeah, yeah.
Following a brief account of his childhood, “There was a 12-year gap between me and my elder twin brother and sister. I often joked with my mother that perhaps I was a mistake” (deathly silence). Alan Sugar, resplendent in red velvet, then launched into an extended autobiography of the his illustrious career.
Again, it’s a familiar tale. After failing his IBM aptitude tests at 16, he went on to bulldoze into the computer industry and capture 30 per cent of their market share. Lord Sugar continues: “And forgive my little boast, my lords, but today I own their European headquarters on the South Bank of the river.”
Heard that before, too.
Don’t get us wrong. Real Business loves Alan Sugar. We love his bluntness and his wry humour and his obvious business nous. But he needs to get some new patter. This same old story just isn’t cutting it any more. We want stories about entrepreneurial and innovative things he’s doing now. Not the regurgitated antics of a chipper, 20-something Alan Sugar in his prime.
Of course, Sir Alan was playing to a brand new audience. One that perhaps has not widely read The Apprentice star’s cuttings like we have. And it was a tough audience, too: “My appointment earlier this year as enterprise adviser to this government was not met with a chorus of wild approval,” says Lord Sugar. “Apart from ‘Lord Sugar of Clapton’, I seem to have been awarded another title – that of telly peer.”
Well, that is all that the public has seen of you for the past few years, Lord Sugar.
Maybe a few words about the economy, or how you’re planning to help small businesses, or any new ventures you’re embarking on might sway their opinion? But Lord Sugar just reverts to the same tired routine: “Well, my Lords, with that in mind, those of your lordships who may have stumbled upon the TV show may recall when it started six years ago I made a statement: never, ever underestimate me.”
Even his one moment of humility, where he referred to himself as an “apprentice” in government, was still just a reference to his TV fame. Bad form, Lord Sugar. Bad form.
All in all, Real Business has to agree with The Times journalist Ann Treneman in her treatment of Lord Sugar’s maiden speech.
Alan Sugar, you have earnt yourself a new moniker: Arise, Lord Sugarpuff.
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