The Apprentice: Lord Sugar’s best one-liners

Over nine bouts of the BBC series, Lord Sugar has consistently proven his command of the English language - here are some of his most memorable soundbites...

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“Mary Poppins I am not,” announced Lord Sugar in the opening episode of The Apprentice series four. And based on his acerbic tongue and scathing boardroom putdowns, I think we can all agree that the Amstrad boss certainly doesn’t dish out any spoonfuls of Sugar. But his snarliest one-liners are often saved for those foolhardy enough to brave his televised recruitment process as he casts a disapproving eye over their weekly efforts. Over nine series of The Apprentice, he’s clocked up an impressive repertoire of strident metaphors and hard-hitting similes – “One swallow don’t make a summer, you understand?” 

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So, in celebration of Sugar, and tonight’s episode of The Apprentice, we’ve put together a collection of his most memorable one-liners. Enjoy…


Picture this: it’s the first episode of series five, you’re lined up with your competitors in the boardroom and Lord Sugar is looming in front of you. You’re still a victim of those early jitters and you’re faced with this…

“I know the words to Candle in the Wind – it don’t make me Elton John… You think you can second guess or play me? Well let me tell you, I’m as hard to play as a Stradivarius and you lot, I can assure you, are as easy to play as bongo drums.” 


Fast-forward to the first episode of series six and Lord Alan was still taking no prisoners. Long before his run-ins with Stuart Baggs, Sugs was busy instructing his new contestants not to be “steady Eddies or cautious Carols” before sending them off on their first task at Smithfield meat market. But not before he came out with this nifty one-liner: 

“It’s sink or swim, and you’ve most probably picked up by now that I don’t do life jackets.” Boom. 


This next quote is buried way back in series four when poor Sara Dhada was fighting for her survival as she tried to defend her failed pitch. Lord Sugar was having none of it, responding to her lengthy explanation with this delicious putdown. 

“If I had been one of the recipients of your sales pitch, if it’s anything like what you’re doing now, I would have gotten hold of your head and pushed it in the bloody cake!”


Jump ahead to series seven and it’s Tom Pellereau’s head on the block. The inventor suffered five consecutive defeats at the start of the process, and while he eventually went on to win the competition, he was the subject of Lord Sugar’s skepticism during episode ten. His enthusiastic head-bobbing response to Sugs’s warning did little to reverse his fortunes as he was met with this response…

“If you nod your head any longer I’m going to put you on the back seat of my bloody car.” 


We’re heading back to series four for the next acid-tongued exchange with eager-to-please hopeful Michael Sophocles. When questioned about his religion, Mike’s response was neither here nor there – although we’re sure he made his mind up pronto when Lord Alan came up with this suggestion:

Michael: “I’m half Jewish, Sir Alan.”
Sugs: “You either are or you aren’t. If you’re unsure you can always pull your trousers down and we can check.” Ooh-er…


The delightfully-named Nicholas de Lacy-Brown was another victim of the Sugar wrath as he scrabbled for his place in the competition at the start of series four. The trainee barrister adopted his exotic moniker from his grandmother’s name to add an element of sophistication but, alas, it wasn’t enough to impress Lord Alan. Upon informing him of his imminent dismissal, Sugs made good use of the alphabet to dish out this nifty putdown…

“You were devastated when you got a B in your GCSE French. You’re going to be even more devastated now because you’ve got a big F. You’re fired!”


Moving forward to series five, and James McQuillan’s head was on the chopping board after his team failed to win their challenge. But it turned out the all-seeing Lord Sugar had a bone to pick with plucky James about some ill-advised comments he’d made on his CV. A lesson to be learnt here: never use saliva as a selling point…

“James I understand reading your CV – it’s amazing one of the things you’ve said here – when you wake up in the morning you can taste success in your spit. What did you have, a curry last night, then?”


Back at the start of series two, Mani Sandher was riding high in the competition, but fast-forward to episode five and he had come crashing down, attacked by his team-mates for his underperformance during their task. Who needed a poet when you had Lord Sugar to sum up his predicament…

“Four weeks ago in your first team I had people calling him ‘the anchor’ and ain’t it funny, five weeks later how time can change. You seem to have gone from ‘anchor’ to ‘wanker’.” 


We’re catching up with the current ninth series for the next quote from Sugs, debriefing on a task that saw the two teams design their own brand of beer. After discerning that the boys chose to send Zee to the brewery despite the fact that he never drinks, Lord Sugar deployed his full command of the English language to deliver the following description… 

“How do you send people to a brewery that don’t drink? In Zee’s case particularly, he is as dry as a cream cracker in the bleeding Sahara Desert!” 


And last, but not least, how could we fail to mention one of Lord Sugar’s infamous tête-à-têtes with Stuart Baggs? The plucky “ten trick pony” lasted until week 11 of the competition, but it was his boardroom pleas during episode ten that prompted this barbed remark at the end of his exchange with Sugs…

Stuart Baggs: “If I work for you it’s not going to be from 9 to 5, and I know some people think that. I’ll be in the office weekends, even on a Sunday. I’ll work for you 24/7.”
Lord Sugar: “I don’t need a night watchman.”
Stuart Baggs: “Listen, I will make you so proud of me.”
Lord Sugar: “I hear your enthusiasm, you know? Great enthusiasm. A fly’s got enthusiasm but it doesn’t stop headbutting the window!”


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The Apprentice starts tonight at 9pm on BBC1