News & Views

Apprentice star loses legal battle

BY John Wilson
Employment law
BG Purple

The former winner of BBC reality show “The Apprentice” has lost her constructive dismissal claim against Lord Sugar’s company, Viglen Ltd.

Stella English managed to fight off competition from a host hopefuls to land a dream job as Lord Sugar’s apprentice. Ms English was paid £100,000 per year for the prize job but alleged that when she turned up to work on day one she was told “there is no job”.  

She claimed that she was given a desk and a phone but no real duties during her time at the company. She resigned from the job at Viglen in May 2011 but took up Lord Sugar’s offer a job with an associated employer, YouView, meaning that her continuity of service was preserved. She quit this job in October 2011 and raised a claim for constructive dismissal. 

The tribunal was highly critical of Ms English’s claim, stating that it should never have been pursued by the businesswoman. In dismissing her claim the tribunal found that the Claimant was given a “real job” which had "enormous scope for advancement and learning".

Lord Sugar has been characteristically outspoken about the case and claimed that Ms English’s allegations were calculated to force an out of court settlement from him. In a statement following the ruling the billionaire businessman said: 

"There was never a case for us to answer but her need for money and fame meant that the whole system was subjected to this charade. I have been cleared of a derisory attempt to smear my name and extract money from me.”

"The allegations were without substance, and I believe this case was brought with one intention in mind - the presumption that I would not attend the tribunal, that I would not testify and that I would settle out of court, sending Ms English on her way with a tidy settlement.  

"I'm afraid she underestimated me and her reputation is now in tatters."

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