June 18, 2009 / 5:24 PM / 10 years ago

BBC tells "Apprentice" boss: You're not fired!

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British tycoon Alan Sugar can continue firing and hiring on the popular TV show “The Apprentice” after the BBC said on Thursday that his new government role would not compromise its impartiality.

Britain’s Conservative opposition had described Sugar’s government business adviser position as “totally incompatible” with his role on the publicly funded broadcaster’s show.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government appointed the 62-year-old Sugar as “enterprise tsar” in a reshuffle earlier this month. He is expected to take a seat in the House of Lords.

The BBC said it reached its decision after detailed talks with Sugar, who will not be paid for his government work.

“The BBC is satisfied that his new role as an enterprise champion to the government will not compromise the BBC’s impartiality or his ability to present ‘The Apprentice’,” it said in a statement.

“Sir Alan is not going to be making policy for the government nor does he have a duty to endorse government policy.

“Moreover, Sir Alan has agreed that he will suspend all public-facing activity relating to this unpaid post in the lead up to and during any shows that he is presenting on the BBC.”

Sugar welcomed the decision.

“I am passionate about business and enterprise and that has always been my motivation for wanting to take on this role.”

BBC Director General Mark Thompson said Sugar would not be able to speak on behalf of the government in the Lords and would have to take care in what topics to address when the next series of “The Apprentice” was broadcast.

The show, which puts candidates through 12 weeks of business-related tasks in order to win a job with Sugar, completed its fifth series earlier this month.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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