£1m autobiography claim elicits a Sugary response

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The Independent Online

As viewers of the hit television show The Apprentice will know, Sir Alan Sugar is not a man to cross swords with. So when a literary agent tries to flog the Amstrad boss's autobiography without his permission, one only can assume he is either very brave or extremely stupid.

In an article in this week's Bookseller magazine, a leading publisher claims to have recently turned down a proposal for Sugar's autobiography after baulking at the £1m advance being demanded by his "agent" Tony Cowell, the brother of the likeable pop impressario Simon.

The story is news to Sugar, above, who not only has no plans to write any memoirs but has also never met Cowell in his life.

Famous for holding "bullshitters" in much the same regard as professional footballers, the former chairman of Tottenham Hotspur football club has subsequently fired an angry missive in Cowell's direction: "I have no intention of writing an autobiography now and most certainly do not need you, who I have never met, touting around something I have not authorised you to do," Sir Alan writes. "Please stop telling publishers that I am demanding amounts of money and stop implying that you act for me. I have never met or heard of you."

Sir Alan politely signs off with a reminder that any further monkey business from Cowell would be met with legal papers being served, presumably, by the finest lawyers his reported £800m fortune can buy.

* Time was when the Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash could creditably claim the moniker of coolest man in rock.

How times change. Slash, left, has recently been approached to take part in the next series of BBC's latest slice of treacly light entertainment, celebrity singing contest Just The Two of Us.

The format of the programme has one celebrity teaming up with a renowned musician who then compete in an X-Factor-style "sing-off". Pandora has received a copy of a letter sent to the musician's agent which promises "a substantial fee for his participation in the show".

"I understand that Slash must have a very tight schedule but we could work around this and the celebrity will be trained by a vocal coach so the onus wouldn't solely be on Slash to make the duet work," it reads.

So far, Slash's people are yet to reply to the request. If he accepts, it's bound to be even more disappointing for Guns N' Roses fans than the day they discovered his real name was Saul Hudson.

* Whilst Neil Morrissey these days enjoys a nice little side-earner working as a hotelier, his former comic partner, Martin Clunes, has developed a sharp eye for the property business.

Clunes, right, recently put his Dorset home up for sale for just shy of £2m, three times what he paid for it just six years ago. "We just found somewhere with a bit of land for the gee-gees," he tells the Dorset Echo. "We were not planning to move but it just came up and suddenly we went berserk and we're selling our London property as well. We'll never go back."

The "gee-gees" to which Clunes refers are presumably the racehorses that he and his wife, Phillipa, own. One of them, Waltzing Beau, has proved a handy hurdler over the past couple of years with a couple of wins, although it ran a disappointing 19th last year at Cheltenham.

* At the ripe old age of 83, Lucien Freud appears to be enjoying a renewed lease of life.

Just recently, Pandora reported that the reclusive artist had consented to a rare "warts and all" interview with the glossy society magazine, Tatler. Not only that, but he was last week spotted making an appearance on the London party circuit, pitching up at the Italian embassy for the launch of chef Giorgio Locatelli's new book, Made in Italy: Food and Stories.

Said an onlooker: "He was accompanied by very pretty young blonde. We didn't know if it was his daughter or his girlfriend - with Lucien it can be hard to tell." Except that Bella and Esther are, of course, brunettes ...

* Ever since Sir Terry Wogan's chat show was dumped in favour of the woeful soap opera, Eldorado, he's had an uneasy relationship with the BBC.

In his new book, Musn't Grumble, he's still on at them for not giving him another prime-time slot.

"As far as I'm concerned the BBC can't think outside the box, so it's Making Your Minds Up, selecting the UK's entry into the Eurovision, or a cheap and cheerful pull through some of the song contests' sillier moments," says Sir Terry, right.

"Auntie's Bloomers could have turned me into a shorter, fatter version of Dennis Norden if I hadn't walked away.

Some might say it's a remarkably frosty tone for Sir Terry to take with employers who reportedly pay him £800,000 a year to present his radio show.