Lord Sugar attacks 'fast buck' culture of young at The Apprentice launch

Lord Sugar

Lord Sugar

Lord Sugar has criticised young people for "waiting for the opportunity" to become the next Steve Jobs instead of taking the initiative to set up their own businesses.

Speaking at the launch of the eighth series of The Apprentice, which premieres next Wednesday on BBC1, the Amstrad millionaire expressed hope that the series would instill "some kind of enterprise culture" in young people.

"I'm afraid to say that there are too many youngsters that look up to [Mark] Zuckerberg and [Bill] Gates and the late and great Steve Jobs and are sitting around waiting for this opportunity to become one of them.

"They don't realise that there is a trillion to one chance," he said. Referring to the first task of the new series, he added: "What we've lost in this country is the culture of starting with £100 in the morning and buying some bags, printing on them, then coming back at the end of the day [having made] a couple of 100 quid, and doing that five times a week and making yourself £1,000.

"That's what we need to bring back," said Lord Sugar, who started his business career at the age of 12 buying and selling old lemonade bottles in Clapton, then went on to sell car aerials and electrical goods from the back of a van.

"We need to dispel the fast buck culture out of the mind of youngsters."

However, despite his humble beginnings, Lord Sugar said he had no time for candidates who sought "sympathy" by sharing their sob stories in the boardroom.

"You feel like you're sitting there like Simon Cowell. They say 'my mum did that', 'my dad did this', 'and then I did this and then I did that'. You want to go to Sky Plus [to] get on with it," he said. "I'm not interested."

Lord Sugar, a former Labour government enterprise "tsar", also criticised the government and the opposition for "bank bashing" and said people should take their own risks in business rather than rely on bank loans.

Asked how many more series of The Apprentice there would be, he admitted that he had never imagined it would go on for so long. He said the change in format in the last series – candidates compete not for a job but for Lord Sugar to invest in their business ventures – had encouraged him to carry on. "I did need a reason to continue doing it," he said. "It will go on as long as viewers watch and as long as I have enthusiasm for it."

Last updated: 2:38pm, March 13 2012