Lord Alan Sugar: We need to create a culture of enterprise

Lord Sugar on ‘moaners’, why we need to create a feel-good factor in the marketplace, and his next big project

In the fourth and final part of our coverage of Lord Sugar’s insights at Business 2012, the Apprentice star explains why bank-bashing is ‘electioneering’, why the ‘moaners’ are usually ‘skint’, and what his next business project entails.

Which laws would you like to change to improve business climate?

The last thing you want is government interfering in business because they don’t know what they’re doing. What you want is for them to create a level playing field. Trade freely. No obstacles in the way. A start would be for politicians to stop electioneering and pointing the finger at banks not lending. Trust me, that is total electioneering. It’s a classic example of pointing at someone who got a bonus and then saying ‘here’s me trying to look after you’.

We need to create a culture of enterprise. In America they suffered. But now they’re talking themselves up again, which you’ve got to admire. They’re talking a load of rubbish, but they’re talking themselves up again.

Everyone talks about the banks not lending. When I was an advisor for government, there were allegations that this was going on and I carried out an investigation and found out two things – companies were not interested in expansion and taking risk. Then on the other side of the coin were the moaners who are complaining that the banks aren’t lending money – and they’re the ones that are skint. We need to create a feel-good factor in the marketplace that you can do it. A starting point for that is: ‘Don’t read the Daily Mail’.

I employ three and have sub-contractors. When do you stop nurturing people and say ‘you’re fired’?

You mean you’ve invested in trying to get them to work well and it’s not working. In future – and I’m not sure they’re contractors or employees – contractors you can let go. I always find it’s important people sign a contract of employment that says you can both say ‘no thanks’ after six months with no hard feelings. Within six months you should get to know whether that person has got the block or not.

What’s next? What can we look forward to from Lord Sugar?

Something always comes along. If ever there’s a void in my business life I start to get bored. I’ve been fortunate enough in the past 40 years. September is the launch time for new products and you ask yourself that at the same time every year. Particularly in the electronics business, there was always something there. Something came along.

More recently, opportunities have come to me. YouView is a non-profit-making organisation. We’re going to be launching a television system that operates off of a set-top box and it connects to the internet. I got a call from the head honchos of this organisation and they said ‘we need you to come in to sort that out’. So that’s next.

Lord Sugar was speaking at Business 2012 at London’s O2 Arena

Part one: Start from scratch, with your own money

Part two: Don’t rely on the government to help you

Part three: I only take risks in things I understand

Part four: We need to create a culture of enterprise

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