He's Pantsman to his pupils, but his dreams remain undented

8th May 2009 at 01:00
Apprentice teacher says mouthy teenagers are better than lippy contestants

His pupils call him "Pantsman" and regularly ask him to clench his buttocks for them. But Noorul Choudhury, chemistry teacher and recently fired Apprentice contestant, says he has no regrets about appearing on the reality TV show.

Mr Choudhury handed in his notice at Siddal Moor Sports College in Rochdale to compete for a job with Sir Alan Sugar. At 33, he was the oldest male contestant.

"The typical Apprentice is fresh out of uni," he said. "But I'm a rough diamond. I'm not the finished article. I can benefit from having someone like Sir Alan as a mentor. I wanted someone to make my skills better. Nothing else out there can give you that opportunity."

The opportunities the show afforded were indeed many. He shined shoes in St Pancras station, served canapes to bankers while wearing a toga, and clenched his buttocks to sell exercise products.

Most notably, he dressed as Pantsman, a character devised in a misguided attempt to create a child-friendly cereal brand.

This last incarnation was seized on by pupils at Heywood Community High in Rochdale, where he now teaches. "I might get the odd mick taken out of me," he said. "Kids coming up and saying, 'Clench your buttocks, sir.' And everyone calls me Pantsman. That's my nickname now."

But he believes that facing mouthy teenagers was useful training for the Apprentice. He also prefers pupil backchat to Sir Alan's withering one-liners ("whoever employs him better get a receipt").

"In school, you may get comments from kids for whatever reason," Mr Choudhury said. "But you're there to make a difference, to teach right from wrong. That's more rewarding than watching Sir Alan point a finger at you."

The cameras portrayed him as a passive follower, but he insists he was misrepresented: "When you're a teacher, you have to demonstrate that you can lead. But I didn't want to come over as some idiot lunatic. Some of the other contestants would be disciplined for gross misconduct in a real environment."

He condemns trainee stockbroker Ben for being "spineless". Instead, development manager Kate gets his vote. Alternatively, he would like to see commercial manager James win: "He comes over as a bit of a dipstick in the boardroom, but he's the nicest of the remaining lads."

Meanwhile, his own business ambitions remain undented. He spends school holidays renovating property. But he also wants to become a head, learn Argentine tango and work for an aid organisation.

"I've always been ambitious," he said. "You have to have goals. But teaching - it's a recession-proof job. And it has massive rewards. A child you touch remembers you for ever. And that, for me, is more rewarding than a turnover of Pounds 1m a week."

- The Apprentice is on BBC1 on Wednesdays at 9pm

IN HIS OWN WORDS

- Business is a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog game that you must play to win. - Before going on the programme

- I'm not all talk. I can manage a team of people - total strangers even - because I'm feisty and have attitude. - Before going on the programme

- Is that in foreign? - Query during the sixth task

- I'm always the life and soul of the party. - During his exit interview, on his portrayal as a shrinking violet

- It's absolutely awful, just awful. You don't know what's going to get picked up about you, but you're going to have to live with it. - On tabloid stories about his affairs with older women.

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