Tom Pellereau: My year with Lord Sugar

Last year's Apprentice winner explains what it's like running a company with the TV show's boss

Immediately after the final aired, I got a call from Lord Sugar. although I already knew I had won, I still felt like I was dreaming. It took his call to make me realise the hard work really had to begin.


I took out my notebook and started writing down ideas beyond the newfangled nail file that he helped me with. The first thing I had to do was come up with a name for our new company — and Aventom was born.

I then had to share my ideas with Lord Sugar. I pretty much presented him with every one I have ever had. He considered them all and used his experience and instincts to can some, approve others and suggest the rest were kept until later.

I have lots of off-the-wall ideas and I am certainly a bit excitable and a bit naive, so his advice has made me focus. Keeping it simple is the core lesson lord Sugar has taught me.

It is terrifying working with him, but I have learnt that as long as I prepare what I have to say, say it quickly and then shut up, he listens.

So now we have a big launch for the first product in a few days. we are focusing on one brand area and have started a new collection of products but it hopefully isn’t going to stop there.

What is the ultimate ambition? The slogan for the company is “inventing a Better Tomorrow” and nail files, for example, I admit, are not life-changing. This is a starting point. I have a real techy side and I am interested in health-related products, but you have to start within your means.

I haven’t given up on the office chairs for back problems, for example, that I pitched in the final. That is an area I am really interested in and it’s still being worked on and has great scope.

There is a substantial commitment from Lord Sugar and from myself to remain invested in the company and to make it a success, but ultimately it’s up to me to make sure the money doesn’t run out. I just hope the public likes what we’ve started and can see where we are going.

Lord Sugar on Tom

I’ve been working closely with Tom since the programme finished last year, although I’m only there to consult if he needs some guidance. I’m not involved in the day-to-day management of Aventom, his new company.

He’s launching his new product in a few days and I’m pleased with all the work he’s put in. He has some of the leading retailers all lined up.

I just hope it works out because he’s not going to get a second chance. If he’s blown it, he’s had it.

We stuck with the nail file direction as there were a few ridiculous ideas — he had a chair of some kind that I think he pitched on the show that had no potential.

The Apprentice is on Wednesday nights at 9:00pm on BBC1


This is an edited version of an article in the issue of Radio Times magazine published 6 March 2012