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The Apprentice: Lord Sugar riles engineers

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On last night’s episode of The Apprentice, Lord Sugar pointed his famous finger at Glenn Ward, the 28-year-old senior design engineer from Hertfordshire, claiming “I’ve never come across an engineer that can turn his hand to business.”

Oh dear Lord Sugar, what were you thinking?

His comment immediately sparked a row on Twitter:

@TrinityResearch Cant believe mr sugar.said he never met an engineer who was good at business #apprentice . what about @billgates or @chrisjhorn .

@OriginalAitchy RT @danhortonseo Engineer can’t turn his hand to business ?? Come on lord sugar what an insult …>> agree it’s fixed

@dubuerre Alan Sugar goes down further in my estimation. “I’ve never seen an engineer who could turn his hand to business” #apprentice 

@dazzer1004 Sugar has never met an engineer who has been successful in business: he’s obviously yet to meet James Dyson.

@NadioG #appprentice Correct me if I’m wrong sir sugar, but Sir George Buckley, CEO of 3m is an engineer, graduated from @HuddersfieldUni I believe!

@SueDBA ‘Never met an engineer who could turn his hand to business’? Sugar, you are a prat. Does ‘Dyson’ mean anything to you? #apprentice

@welsh_gas_doc Sacked for being an engineer? Shows that invert-snob, bitter Alan Sugar is scared of professionals. Stupid decision. #apprentice

Will King, the entrepreneur behind the King of Shaves grooming brand, also joined the debate, tweeting: I’m a Mech. Engineer. So is James Dyson. C’mon @Lord_Sugar. DYSON. KING OF SHAVES. FUTURE.”

We spoke to King this morning to get his full reaction.

The Apprentice is a TV show. It’s a pressured environment and people say things they don’t always mean. Lord Sugar is as fallible as the rest of us. But given that Britain needs to rebalance its economy – and it needs to become a manufacturing economy – Lord Sugar’s comments were short-sighted,” he said. 

“There are so many different facets to engineering: software engineering; mechanical engineering; mathematical engineering; chemical engineering; innovation and patents. This idea that engineers are boring and sit in dark rooms all day tinkering away with inventions – it’s just not true. Look at Mark Zuckerberg. Or James Dyson.” 

King graduated from Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1987 with a degree in mechanical engineering and says it has stood him in good stead. 

Too right – the man now runs a $30m-turnover business. 

As for Glenn Ward being fired, King says “the wrong man took the bullet”. “I’d have kept the engineer on the show,” he says. 

King tells us he’s also impressed with contestant Tom Pellereau, the 31-year-old inventor: “Interestingly, Tom approached me several years ago and asked me to invest in his Stylfile – an S-shaped nail file that he designed. He wanted me to help him launch the product into the retail space. I was very impressed. The only reason I didn’t back him was because we didn’t agree on a valuation.”

We like this piece from Elevate Local on the ten engineers who are worth more than Lord Sugar.

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