How Lord Alan Sugar Became a Big Name in the Business World

11 Mar 2019

Lord Alan Sugar has been back on TV screens in millions of homes across the UK, due to The Celebrity Apprentice airing on BBC1 on 7th and 8th March. The business mogul is known for much more than just being the mentor of budding business entrepreneurs though — or celebrities in the case of the recent Comic Relief special — so join Propsellers as we look into the British business magnate’s rise to prominence as an entrepreneur…



The youngest of four children to Nathan and Fay Sugar, Lord Sugar started his education at Northwold Primary School and then enrolled at Brooke House Secondary School. His skills in the world of business were evident even as he studied in school though, as he started working for a greengrocer while still at school to save up some pocket money.

Upon leaving school at the age of 16 years old, Lord Sugar had a brief time in the civil service but was quick to begin his entrepreneurial career by starting a small business which specialised in the sale of car aerials and electronics when aged 21 years old.


Career highlights

The now-billionaire founded Amstrad — a company which was an acronym of Alan Michael Sugar Trading — in 1968, with the firm responsible for selling products which varied from aerials and car radios to hi-fi systems and cigarette lighters. The company expanded to the point that it went public on the London Stock Exchange in 1980, before doubling its growth throughout the early 1980s. Seen as a market leader in consumer electronics during this decade too, Amstrad was successful at launching its version of a home computer in 1984. Amstrad was sold to broadcaster BSkyB in 2007 for £125 million.

Another of Lord Sugar’s standout business ventures was when he purchased Tottenham Hotspur football club in 1991, teaming up with football legend Terry Venables. However, this project proved to be a troublesome one for Lord Sugar — especially when his relationship with the football club’s fans took a major blow when he made the decision to sack Venables as manager in 1993. Despite this, it wasn’t until 2001 that Lord Sugar sold 27 per cent of his shares in Tottenham Hotspur to leisure group ENIC for £22 million. He went on to sell his remaining shares to the same organisation for £25 million in 2007, which ended his ties with the London-based club after close to 16 years.

To many today, Lord Sugar is most recognised for his prominent role on BBC’s reality show The Apprentice. A key part of the programme since it first aired in 2005, the winner of each annual edition of the show is:

  • Granted a job at Lord Sugar’s company.
  • Given the opportunity to begin their own business in partnership with Lord Sugar.
  • Awarded an investment of £250,000 by Lord Sugar himself.


Fast facts

Date of birth: March 24th 1947

Born in: The London Borough of Hackney

Nationality: British

Educated at: Northwold Primary School & Brooke House Secondary School

Currently lives in: London

Known by the names: Lord Alan Sugar, Baron Sugar, Alan Michael Sugar

Total net worth: Around £1.3 billion*

Business ties (current and past):

  • Chairman of Tottenham Hotspur football club (1991-2001)
  • Chairman of Viglen (Until 2009)
  • Founder and owner of Amsprop (Founded in 1985 and current owner)
  • Founder of Amsair (Founded in 1993)
  • Chairman of Amscreen
  • Owner of Amshold (Current)
  • Founder of Amstrad (Founded in 1968, though company sold to BSkyB in 2007)
  • Sat on the Business Council for Britain

Awards & achievements:

  • Knighted for his services to business in 2000
  • Holds honorary Doctor of Science degree, awarded by Brunel University in 2005
  • Holds honorary Doctor of Science degree, awarded by City University in 1988
  • British government’s Enterprise Champion in 2009
  • Appointed to the House of Lords as Baron Sugar of Clapton in the London Borough of Hackney in 2009
  • Philanthropist of Great Ormond Street Hospital charity
  • Philanthropist of Jewish Care charity

*According to as reported on October 2nd 2018.



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