Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 17:44 UK

Reporter finds Sugar not so sweet

By Richard Moss
Political Editor, BBC North East and Cumbria

Sir Alan took exception to a question about his new government role

It was the day when I found out what it might be like to be in The Apprentice boardroom.

Short of saying "You're fired", Sir Alan Sugar could not have been more definite in his dismissal of me.

My task was to join the assembled media masses to confront Gordon Brown's new enterprise tsar in a Gateshead brewery.

And to be honest I could have done with a steadying half or two after what was not a meeting of minds.

I had been warned Sir Alan was not keen to answer questions about his new role with the government. He was there to promote apprenticeships.

But as it was a government-organised event and he was flanked by ministers, I thought it was fair game.

Alan Sugar
Sir Alan told Richard Moss it was a "rather nasty question"

Perhaps it was not the politest of questions.

I asked: "Was there a danger he was 'window dressing' for the government because of his TV popularity?"

I had thought, surely, he does not like schmoozers.

But as the glower developed on his face I knew I was on to a loser.

It was a "nasty question" that he "took exception to" and if, as any journalist should have done, I had done my research I would have found out he had been supporting such events for years.

That was me told, if not humiliated in front of my peers. But it taught them as well.

Apart from one brave attempt by the Press Association reporter, my media colleagues were cowed into submission, bowling him some rank full tosses about how nice apprentices are.

It certainly left me with a new respect for the Apprentices that face the full might of Sir Alan in the boardroom.

And I am no shrinking violet, having interviewed prime ministers in my time.

But I have a feeling Sir Alan will face more tough questions in his new role.

And so he should - both about what its purpose is for him and the government, and about the potential conflicts of interest caused by his TV career.

I do wonder whether he realised what he might be letting himself in for when he agreed to take the role as enterprise tsar though.

Because of that, I am sure more journalists will be in the firing line soon.

So, in true Apprentice style, as I depart, I would like to say thank you for the opportunity Sir Alan.

Now where's my taxi?

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