You’re hired: as the new Sugar

Apprentice star Sir Alan Sugar will step down from the day-to-day running of his businesses following his appointment as the government’s enterprise czar.

Sir Alan was appointed as a business adviser by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week. He will also be made a peer, but at the time of writing it was not known what will his full title be.
Claude Littner, 60, Sir Alan’s long-standing troubleshooter who grills the candidates in the interview episode of The Apprentice, will oversee Sir Alan’s business interests. Sir Alan’s spokesperson, David Fraser, said this would “ensure there are no conflicts of interest between his official role and his private interests.”

Mr Littner, a Jewish businessman who has worked with Sir Alan for more than 20 years, will run the £270 million property portfolio Amsold, which includes a jet hire business, computer firm Viglen, and Amscreen, a business installing digital screens in GP surgeries.

A former chief executive of Amstrad International and of Tottenham Hotspur, Mr Littner is also the executive chairman of five-a-side football operator Powerleague. He is a life-long member of Golders Green Synagogue in Dunstan Road, north London.

Sir Alan’s appointment by the Prime Minister has been attacked by the Conservatives, who complained the job was “completely incompatible” with presenting the BBC show.

But Sir Alan denied any conflict of interests. He said: “The Apprentice is a selection process to get an employee for me. I fail to understand why that is a conflict of interest with me assisting the government.”

He began his new role, which involves advising small- and medium-sized businesses, this week. On Tuesday, he was in Gateshead fronting a campaign to encourage young people to take up apprenticeships.

    Last updated: 12:41pm, June 11 2009