Very small spoonful of Sugar


Sir Alan Sugar might well admire Charlie Burden for Sir Alan Sugar: The Biography, (John Blake, £17.99) in the sense that Burden has thrown together a product and could well turn a nice little profit on it.

But then Sir Alan has always prided himself on the quality of his product, which is absent here. As indeed is Sir Alan himself — Burden has not interviewed the grizzled panjandrum of The Apprentice, nor does he seem to have spoken to anyone close to Sugar.

What Burden has done is blend existing accounts of Sir Alan’s life with contemporaneous media coverage to present a bland account of a quite extraordinary personality. The parts covering Sugar’s early life are interesting enough. What distinguished this ordinary, working-class lad from his peers was, it seems, a streak of individuality, an inability to work for others, and a burning desire to own his own set of wheels. After young Alan discovered that he was very good at flogging car aerials to retailers, a set of wheels — and then the millions — followed.

But if you want insight into his later life you will be disappointed. Sixteen years after the event, all Burden can conclude about Sugar’s sacking of Terry Venables was that “it was not connected to football matters”. The nearest to a revelation is the trite observation that Sir Alan is very different to his gruff persona on The Apprentice.

I wouldn’t fancy Burden’s chance in the boardroom.

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