This year’s The Apprentice candidates may well be gracing our screens every Wednesday, but they’d do little harm in reading Stella English’s experiences after winning series 6 in 2010.
When English, 32, a former investment banker and mother of two won the role of Lord Sugar’s apprentice and a £100,000 pay packet, no doubt she was over the moon.
But it didn’t take long for her to make headlines again, this time when she complained that her new role was more of a “glorified PA” than of an executive’s.
Lord Sugar reacted and moved her from her current post at Viglen – a computer manufacturer – into a new position as commercial manager of YouView, a company which makes televisions that combine broadband and TV.
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Ten months later, however, she resigned complaining the role still wasn’t challenging enough and that far from being Lord Sugar’s apprentice, she barely ever saw him.
And now, nearly a year later, she’s threatening legal action, claiming constructive dismissal – an action contested by Lord Sugar.
In an interview with the Daily Mail she said: “In a funny way this isn’t about Lord Sugar.
“Odd as it sounds, I do quite like him as an individual — he can be quite funny and quite charming, and in a way I wish I’d spent more time with him — that he’d taken me under his wing more.
‘If he had, I don’t think I would be in this situation. What I experienced had very little to do with him — and that was the problem.”
According to English her winning the show was one of the worst experiences of her life and has destroyed her career in finance. Before going on The Apprentice English earned £85,000 managing the trading floor of a Japanese bank.
She claims she can no longer return to the City because she’s been away from the markets for too long. “Even if I’d wanted to, I couldn’t go back to banking because I’ve been out of the market too long and lost my qualifications,” she told the Mail.
English – who has now decided to launch her own fashion range of business wear – says that her co-workers resented her six figure salary.
“If you do a job that is worth what you’re earning, then people don’t care. But if you do a job that isn’t, then it’s very difficult for people to like you, and very difficult for the person concerned — in this case me,” she said.
She has since poured all her savings from the role into her new business which is set to release a line of clothes that are flattering and suitable for the boardroom. But despite saving she says financing the business has been so difficult she very nearly had her home repossessed last Christmas.