UK's Brown says "You're Hired" to "Apprentice" star

Fri Jun 5, 2009 11:37am EDT
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By Avril Ormsby

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown said "You're Hired" on Friday to Alan Sugar, the tycoon famous for his "You're Fired!" putdowns on television show "The Apprentice."

Brown, battered this week by the resignation of five cabinet ministers and a very poor showing in local elections, recruited the blunt-speaking Sugar to take on a business advisory role, specializing in small and medium-sized companies.

This sector has been particularly badly hit by the worst economic downturn in decades.

Sugar, 62, became a household name chairing the British version of the U.S. show "The Apprentice" which brought Donald Trump into the homes of millions of Americans.

The UK series, which puts candidates through 12 weeks of business-related tasks in order to win a job with Sugar, is now in its fifth series.

Sugar's fame and business acumen may help the government to sell its broader message to a skeptical public, but it could also fuel criticisms Brown should focus less on celebrity figures and more on political policy.

Brown was mocked this week after he telephoned to check on the health of singer Susan Boyle who shot to instant fame in a television talent show before being treated in a London clinic for exhaustion.

Sugar's appointment came on a day when Brown carried out a government reshuffle to shore up his authority over a Labour party riven by high-profile resignations and a scandal over lawmakers' perks.   Continued...

<p>Businessman Alan Sugar arrives for the British Academy Television Awards 2009 at the Royal Festival Hall in London April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>