[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 June 2007, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Sugar defends interview technique
Sir Alan Sugar with The Apprentice contenders
Sir Alan Sugar robustly defended his questioning of Katie Hopkins

Sir Alan Sugar has answered criticisms of his treatment of former Apprentice candidate Katie Hopkins ahead of the final instalment of the BBC One show.

Last week's programme saw Hopkins, 31, stand down after she was questioned about her child care arrangements.

But the entrepreneur said it would have been "condescending" not to ask her how she would manage in practical terms.

Choosing this year's winner was "the toughest decision" he had ever had to make, the businessman continued.

"This particular year I've got the biggest dilemma going," he told BBC One's Breakfast, saying shortlisted contestants Simon Ambrose and Kristina Grimes were "genuinely employable".

Katie Hopkins
Katie's got one face in the boardroom, but clearly she's got another side to her
Sir Alan Sugar
"We've got two great finalists here," he added before confirming The Apprentice would return for a fourth series.

Speaking earlier on GMTV, Sir Alan said it would be wrong not to take a potential employee's family commitments into account when considering them for a position.

"I've got a lady in front of me who's got real potential but has got two kids and lives in Birmingham," he said from his home in Chigwell, Essex.

"I can sit there and be condescending, or I can say, 'I think you've got potential, how's it going to work?'

"You go and ask 100 women in the street whether they would like me to deal with it that way, or whether they would like me to be condescending.

"They'd all say, 'You're right Sir Alan, I appreciate you asking me the question.'"

'Complete surprise'

Sir Alan went on to accuse Hopkins of being disingenuous in her claims that she had been deterred by the logistical demands of being a finalist.

"All the contestants had the schedule laid out for them at the very beginning," he said.

Simon Ambrose and Kristina Grimes
Ambrose and Grimes go head to head in the Apprentice final
"It didn't come as some kind of shock to her. To turn round and say she didn't know - with the greatest respect, Katie darling, that is not correct.

"Katie's got one face in the boardroom, but clearly she's got another side to her."

Hopkins also appeared on GMTV on Wednesday morning to discuss her role in the show and her recent sacking from the Met Office.

"I am going to appeal," she told presenter Lorraine Kelly, saying her firing had come as "a complete surprise".

HAVE YOUR SAY
Sugar wins The Apprentice hands down every time
Michael Allison, Preston

Viewers of Wednesday's final will see Ambrose, 27, and Grimes, 36, produce designs for a landmark building on London's South Bank and present their plans to a room full of 100 property professionals.

Sir Alan told Breakfast the "conceptual" task was "one of the best we've ever done".




VOTE RESULTS
Who should win The Apprentice?
Simon
 37.02% 
Kristina
 62.97% 
22079 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

SEE ALSO
Head-to-head: Apprentice finalists
13 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Fired Katie in 'scapegoat' claim
12 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
10 things about the apprentices
07 Jun 07 |  Magazine
Sugar picks Apprentice finalists
07 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Apprentice gets two more series
18 May 07 |  Entertainment

RELATED BBC LINKS



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific