Credit crisis diary: Apprentice judge has his own problems

Fans of The Apprentice who enjoyed this week's "interview" episode may have been disappointed by the non-appearance of Paul Kelmsley, a close associate of Sir Alan Sugar who has in previous years provided much entertainment with his tough interrogations of the candidates. Sadly, this year, Kelmsley was otherwise engaged – his £500m property empire has just gone belly-up.

Chigwell's finest for business minister?

Talking of Sir Alan, political hacks spotted the businessman leaving a side door at Number 10 yesterday, prompting speculation that the great man was poised to accept a government job. Sadly for editors already drafting the inevitable "You're hired" headlines, Downing Street said his visit had been for a routine meeting of the Prime Minister's business council.

The currency markets back Brown

Someone out there loves Gordon Brown. 12.01pm yesterday afternoon: sterling trades at $1.64; 12.02pm: it is down to $1.61. Such volatility is unusual in the currency markets, but was prompted by a rumour that the PM had resigned. When the rumour was denied, sterling recovered. Crueller commentators suggest it was only the uncertainty that led to a decline in the pound, but we prefer to see this as a vote of confidence in Brown.

International trade: plumbers for cabs

Britain's close relationship with Poland isn't entirely one-way traffic on the import/export front. There may have been an influx of Poles since the UK opened its borders to the accession state, but we're sending Poland something too. A demonstration model of London's black cab, which has been on parade on the streets of Warsaw, has been so popular that its maker is struggling to cope with orders from the East. A success story for Britain then – at least until production of cabs moves to China next year.

This isn't just any reputation...

Marks & Spencer may be having a tough time on the high street, but people still love the retailer, currently celebrating its 125th birthday. It has topped a survey by the Reputation Institute, which says consumers rank it as Britain's most reputable company. Seems like Jeremy Paxman's whinging hasn't done the store any harm.

businessdiary@independent.co.uk

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