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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 15:05 GMT
Sugar comments leave bitter taste
Sir Alan Sugar
You're fired... college bosses hit back at TV tycoon
Sir Alan Sugar has come under fire from further education bosses for describing colleges as places "where dummkopfs come to learn where to make mistakes".

The comments made on The Apprentice have prompted the Association of Colleges to write to Sir Alan.

Chief executive Dr John Brennan says his surprise was compounded by the fact that Sir Alan's firm Viglen is a major IT supplier to the education sector.

Dr Brennan said "an apology would not be out of place".

Sir Alan's remarks were made in the boardroom to team leader Alexa Tilley, a Cambridge University graduate, after her group's disastrous attempts to run a pizza stall.

In his letter, Dr Brennan said the comments had "caused outrage" among AoC members.

He said: "I can only assume those comments were made in ignorance of the reality of modern further education - and in particular of the real experiences of the four million students studying there."

The Apprentice
The general view around South Cheshire College is that our students would give contestants a run for their money
Dr David Collins
Principal, South Cheshire College

A spokesman for Sir Alan was not immediately able to comment on the issue.

Sir Alan's technology firm Viglen is a major technology supplier to colleges and schools.

Its website declares: "Across two decades of growth, Viglen has become a supplier of choice to many of the UK's progressive, forward-thinking FE colleges.. our dedicated education team understands the dynamic environment of Further Education inside out."

Dr Brennan said it seemed "quite extraordinary" that Sir Alan would want to risk the reputation of his business.

In his letter he says: "It seems quite extraordinary that you would want to risk the commercial reputation of your own business. The example of Gerald Ratner springs to mind."

One college head has written to Sir Alan to make his feelings known.

'A lot to learn'

Dr David Collins, principal of South Cheshire College in Crewe, challenged The Apprentice contestants to go head-to-head with a team of his own students in a business challenge.

He described Sir Alan's comments as "derogatory" towards further education colleges.

He said: "As the principal and chief executive of one such college I would like to challenge this remark and pit half a dozen of my students against six of his contestants.

"The general view around South Cheshire College is that our students would give contestants a run for their money."

He added: "It's obvious that Mr Sugar has a lot to learn about further education and I am writing to him directly to express that view."

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