Executive denies telling Apprentice winner Stella English there was no job for her
A senior executive at one of millionaire businessman Lord Sugar's companies denied telling former winner of The Apprentice Stella English that there was no job for her.
Lord Sugar is being sued for constructive dismissal by Ms English, 34, who won series six of the BBC1 show in 2010.
Ms English was given a £100,000 role with Lord Sugar's IT division Viglen as her prize but resigned in May 2011 and complained that her role there was that of an “overpaid lackey”, something her former boss strongly denied.
Viglen chief executive Bordan Tkachuk, who also carries out the high-pressure interviews of the finalists in the closing stages of the television series, told the East London Tribunal Service: “I do not understand why I would say 'there is no job' because obviously there is a potential job for one of the two candidates.
“I did not say there was no role. For the five previous contestants there was a job for them.”
Mr Tkachuk also denied that Lord Sugar made the comment “Nice girl. Don't do a lot” about Ms English when he asked what he thought of her during a meeting between them.
He told the tribunal: “I don't remember him saying that but the inference might have been that.”
He recalled that she was “a nice girl but probably had a lot to learn”.
Mr Tkachuk denied that he had shown “bullying behaviour” towards Ms English, of Whitstable, Kent, or that he did not get on with her saying “I had no problem at all with her.”
He described her as “naive” about how procurement works.
Outstanding invoices for projects which were worth £1.4 million which had been spotted by Ms English were not suspicious, he told the tribunal.
He suggested that she did not understand the business, adding: “There is no need to ring false alarm bells when you do not understand what you are talking about.”
He suggested that it was like “running to a schoolteacher claiming something that is not true.”
Her resignation from Viglen caught him “a bit unawares and it was a bit of a surprise”, he told the tribunal. The reason behind it seemed to be that she did not like working in IT having come from a banking background, he suggested.
He took her to lunch to discuss the situation away from the office as she was “clearly a little bit emotional about it,” he stated.
Mr Tkachuk said: “She explained that she did not feel that the IT industry or the company location was for her. She was not happy with working in the industry - it was a different culture.
“It was an amicable meeting. We got on well. We were there for a couple of hours or so. There was certainly no animosity to myself or the company.”
He said he was surprised because she was in a “potentially well-paid” role in a “learning job” where she could make progress.
Lord Sugar later gave her another role at internet set-top box company YouView after she resigned from Viglen in May 2011.
Ms English claims that Lord Sugar told her he would not be renewing her contract during an unscheduled meeting on September 28, 2011.
The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.
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