Apprentice winner 'overpaid lackey'
A winner of TV show The Apprentice described the £100,000-a-year job she was given by Lord Sugar as that of an "overpaid lackey", an employment tribunal has been told.
Stella English beat 15 other wannabe apprentices to win series six of the hit BBC1 show in 2010.
She was given a role in Lord Sugar's Viglen division, supplying IT equipment to academy schools, but she said that when the business mogul told her he would not be renewing her contract she was given no choice but to resign. She is claiming constructive dismissal against Lord Sugar, who attended the hearing at East London Employment Tribunal Service.
Ms English, of Whitstable, Kent, said she had no real role at Viglen and was not taken seriously by her colleagues, while she did not feel like Lord Sugar's "apprentice" as she said she only saw him five times during her 13-month employment.
Ms English, describing the first day of a four-month probationary period she and the other semi-finalist had to carry out before one of them was declared the winner, said: "No specific duties were allocated to me. I was provided with a desk and a phone but that was pretty much it."
Ms English fought back tears as she said she was given no guidance about what she was meant to be doing, and was "ostracised" by her colleagues who told her she had taken over another women's job which had a salary of £35,000.
Relegated to carrying out basic administrative tasks, Ms English said her employment was a "sham". She added: "The career-enhancing opportunities that The Apprentice position had been sold as simply failed to materialise."
Ms English said that when she looked through the company's accounts she realised that although it had a £60 million turnover, it only made an £800,000 a year profit.
She said that when she then emailed her boss, Bordan Tkachuk, to ask if she could discuss this with him - and that she had noticed that projects worth £1.4 million had not been invoiced - he sent her a scathing reply, copying in everyone else in the office. Ms English wept as she said he wrote to her: "I don't know what you're doing but this ain't how things work around here."
She told the tribunal that she emailed Lord Sugar to ask if she could discuss the matter with him but when he came to the Viglen office for a meeting with her, Mr Tkachuk was also present. Ms English said she was upset when Lord Sugar asked his colleague what he thought of her and Mr Tkachuk replied: "Nice girl. Don't do a lot."