A senior executive at one of millionaire businessman Lord Sugar’s companies denied telling former winner of The Apprentice Stella English that there was no job for her.
Lord Sugar is being sued for constructive dismissal by Ms English, 34, who won series six of the BBC1 show in 2010.
Ms English was given a £100,000 role with Lord Sugar’s IT division Viglen as her prize but resigned in May 2011 and complained that her role there was that of an “overpaid lackey”, something her former boss strongly denied.
Viglen chief executive Bordan Tkachuk, who also carries out the high-pressure interviews of the finalists in the closing stages of the television series, told the East London Tribunal Service: “I do not understand why I would say ‘there is no job’ because obviously there is a potential job for one of the two candidates.
“I did not say there was no role. For the five previous contestants there was a job for them.”
Mr Tkachuk also denied that Lord Sugar made the comment “Nice girl. Don’t do a lot” about Ms English when he asked what he thought of her during a meeting between them.
Mr Tkachuk denied that he had shown “bullying behaviour” towards Ms English, of Whitstable, Kent, or that he did not get on with her, saying “I had no problem at all with her.”
He described her as “naive” about how procurement worked. Outstanding invoices for projects which were worth £1.4m which had been spotted by Ms English were not suspicious, he told the tribunal.
He suggested she did not understand the business, adding: “There is no need to ring false alarm bells when you do not understand what you are talking about.”
Her resignation from Viglen caught him “a bit unawares and it was a bit of a surprise”, he told the tribunal. The reason seemed to be that she did not like working in IT having come from a banking background, he suggested.
He took her to lunch to discuss the situation as she was “clearly a little bit emotional about it,” he stated. “It was an amicable meeting. We got on well. “
Lord Sugar later gave her another role at internet set-top box company YouView.
Ms English claims Lord Sugar told her he would not be renewing her contract during an unscheduled meeting on September 28, 2011.
The hearing continues next week.