The employment practices of an Essex businessman were under the spotlight today, after investigators uncovered an elaborate scam being run from his Brentwood offices. Luring up to 18 recruits a year with the promise of £250,000, Alan Sugar, also known by the sinister sobriquet ‘Lord’, had been running a sham training programme for over 12 years. Newcomers worked unpaid for up to 3 months, forced to perform a series of demeaning tasks for Sugar’s personal gratification.
‘We first contacted Sugar after hearing that the search for his apprentice was continuing,’ reported David Peters, from the Skills and Funding Agency. ‘We suggested a 4-year Modern Apprenticeship to meet his needs. He seemed to have no idea about the new national qualifications framework and standards. He asked whether we were talking about a new public sector task planned for week 4, and whether our apprentice could ‘smell what sells’. He told us his training was accredited by the school of hard knocks and the University of Life, before hanging up.’
Suspicions aroused, the SFA started to track Sugar using covert surveillance, 30 cameras, and a full symphony orchestra playing Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights. Sugar was clever, rotating his ‘apprentices’ around London townhouses, transporting them in separate chauffeur-driven black cars, and, in one notable episode, moving them to an antique shop in Northern France to avoid detection. However, undercover police were able to gather slo-mo images of the workers striding purposefully across Millenium Bridge in business suits at 9 p.m. every Thursday. Together with surprisingly clear recordings of conversations about work tasks, shouted by the workers into a cell phone on speaker mode, a case against Sugar was built.
‘This was no apprenticeship, just ritual humiliation, the effects of which will last a lifetime,’ noted Peters. ‘Spot checks at 5 a.m., required to parade for Sugar in tight-fitting Calvin Klein and Agent Provocateur underwear. That footage was, I have to say, tantalisingly brief. One particular worker was ordered to dress as a receptionist, and forced to repeat the phrase ‘Lord Sugar will see you now’, whilst the businessman pleasured himself behind a frosted glass screen. His henchmen, called simply ‘Claude’ and ‘Karen’, would stand guard, looking on impassively. Truly horrific.’
‘Self-centred, power hungry, a despicable individual,’ concluded Peters. ‘Enough about Katie Hopkins, though, this is about naming and shaming Sugar. Unfortunately, lowlife chancers like him inevitably turn up again, typically in professions where standards and ethics are much lower. Just look at Donald Trump.’