Women on my show were 'brain dead,' says Sir Alan
Speaking to Britain’s biggest newspaper, the Amstrad boss said that the seven female hopefuls battling it out for a place in his £760m empire spent their time bickering and not focusing on the business tasks.
The Apprentice, which pulls in regular audiences of 2.1 million, has been screened on BBC2 for the last several weeks and sets enterprise challenges for hopefuls fancying their chance at securing a £100,000 – a - year job with Sir Alan.
So far, there have been five female sackings, or “firings” as Sir Alan calls them, where contestants are booted off the show for not performing. In contrast, just two men have been dismissed, with the second leaving just last week.
“I don’t like bullsh****rs, schmoozers, liars or cheats,” declares Sir Alan at the beginning of each episode, as he prepares his business hopefuls for their next tricky task.
But speaking to the Sun, Sir Alan hinted that the business wannabes as a group – not just the women - were less than what he expected.
“I was presented with the 14 candidates. The production company and the BBC thought that was the correct way to do it,” he recalled.
“But in hindsight, I wouldn’t have had four of them in the starting line-up. I’m not going to say who, but they aren’t all women.”
On the subject of women in the workplace, Sir Alan says that their contributions are often vital – indeed one of his mentors on the show is female - but their industrious force simply failed to make it onto the Apprentice.
“I do believe women in business are great. In fact, some of the best people I ever employed have been women,” he said, adding, “I don’t find any difference between women and men.”
On himself, Sir Alan says he once possessed too much of a narrow-minded approach to business similar, he says, to one of the departed female contestants, Lindsay.
“My weakness in the past was being too autocratic – not listening to other people’s opinions. I’m much better now. But I was a bit like Lindsay, who I had to throw off the show in week two.
He added that her problem was “blindly believing” her business idea was good, when everyone was telling her it “was rubbish.”
Reflecting on his personal career, Sir Alan believes his driving force as youngster growing up on a Hackney estate was the desire to earn money.
He recalls how he didn’t want to struggle in the “rat race” as he says his parents did, but instead, “set a target to become self-sufficient.”
At 18, he set up a business with £100, buying a second-hand van for £50 and spending the rest on TV aerials to sell to the trade.
Now Sir Alan is the 55th richest person in Britain. He set up Amstrad in 1968 and has taken the company from strength to strength, with a portfolio stretching back to the first word processor in 1985, to the flagship e-mailer telephone of today.
The 57-year-old concluded: “I’ll never retire. I’ll still be arguing – trying to get a better deal – when they nail me into my coffin.”