Multimillionaire Alan Sugar has revealed how his business venture with Londonderry doctor Leah Totton made a loss in its first year.
Ahead of the launch of the eleventh series of the hit show ‘The Apprentice’ which begins tonight on BBC One, Lord Sugar has released a new book ‘Unscripted’ - revealing some of the secrets of the show during the past decade.
And dedicating eight pages of the book to Dr Leah, Lord Sugar says the doctor demonstrated her true professionalism throughout series nine of the show and that their business is now trading very successfully.
He revealed how Leah played it cool in the initial weeks of the show’s ninth series and he was forced to ask her what she’d actually been doing. “In response I got some very fast talking explanation,” he said. “She spoke at a hundred miles an hour, a trait she still has today.”
Lord Sugar said that Leah’s win generated a lot of adverse publicity, primarily from competitors in the industry.
“The first was a sort of general negativity, saying that this business was doomed to fail because the market was very crowded. The other type was very spiteful and came from so called experts in the field who started to cast doubts on Leah, a qualified doctor, saying that she wasn’t qualified enough to be able to run a clinic of this type. This upset Leah...It was quite a nasty situation and another eye opener for me on the reaction to the winner of The Apprentice. But, despite all this, we stuck to our guns and set about getting the clinic started which I would say was one of the most complex things I’ve been involved with since we changed the format.
“The other winners simply needed an office to work from; not premises in a prime location specially customised as a clinic.”
Business was slow at the start, the multimillionaire revealed.
“Leah was becoming a little nervous about the lack of clients coming in the door, but to her credit she went out on the road giving out flyers. As expected in the first year, the company made a loss. This was no problem at all considering the costs that were incurred in setting up the place. However everything I told her came true and she is now trading successfully and profitably.
“That said, when I get together with Leah in business meetings I have to spend half the time giving her a wake-up call and suppressing some of her very ambitious ideas for expansion and opening multiple branches.”
‘Unscripted’ by Macmillan is available online and in bookshops. The Apprentice starts tonight on BBC One at 9pm.