15th October 2010 at 01:00
Theo Paphitis has a go at Lord Sugar

Dragon burns Sugar

As the kids say these days: shots fired! Theo Paphitis has had a dig at fellow TV tycoon Lord Sugar, suggesting that his own show gives young people a better idea of the world of business than the Amstrad boss'ss attempt.

The Dragons' Den star, peaking at a debate organised in honour of London's hosting of the WorldSkills competition next year, took a swipe at shows such as The Apprentice, which attracted people looking for TV fame rather than business success.

"Obviously, I'm not talking about Dragons' Den - that's real," the owner of stationery chain Ryman said. "But there's so many people who say, (puts on an affected voice) `I want to be a celebrity when I grow up.' Don't laugh - I go to schools and hear that. What do you want to be a celebrity doing?"

Immune to the lure of celebrity culture himself, Mr Paphitis recounted how 1,400 teenagers, presumably flush with admiration for the way he improved relations with suppliers at Ryman, had turned out to hear him talk about a new "pracademic" course he had been involved in developing. "Business has become the next rock and roll!" he declared.

But Mr Paphitis went on to disappoint those of us looking for a fight to the death with Lord Sugar by being a bit more generous about The Apprentice, acknowledging that it was one of the shows that helped the public understand the business world better. Ultimately, he decided to put the blame where it belonged: on you, the stupid British public.

"People often say, `Where does the BBC find these bozos who don't understand their figures and get them to come on the show?'" he said. "That's the general public. I know the BBC tries hard not to put people on just to fail. They are purely representative." Ouch. He's got a point, though.

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