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Apprentice used the “media as a weapon”, says Lord Sugar

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Lord Sugar has told an employment tribunal that Apprentice winner Stella English is a “headline grabber” and is effectively trying to blackmail him.

English who won series six of the BBC show has already told the tribunal she was treated as an "overpaid lackey". She claims it was not a real position and she was only employed to fulfill contract obligations agreed by the television show.

Judgement has now been reserved and a decision is expected within a month.

Lord Sugar's representative Seamus Sweeney said: "The claimant has, in the eyes of Lord Sugar, deliberately courted the media with a view of damaging his reputation."

He told the East London Tribunal Centre how English had "sold her story" to the press and claimed she had deliberately sensationalised aspects of her evidence.

"She portrays him as always being angry in the meetings, and aggressive," Sweeney said. "It's theatre."

He added: "Using the media in this case was a weapon of choice…It was a first weapon of choice."

After winning the show, English was given a job in Lord Sugar's IT business Viglen.

She resigned in May 2011 but claimed she was pressured into taking up a new position at set-top box venture YouView,

In September that year, English was told that her contract was not being renewed.

Sweeney denied Lord Sugar's offer of possible contractual work at YouView was "a PR construct".

"It wasn't a sham," he said. "It was a real job, with real money. It might not have been her dream job - that does not mean it was a sham."

However, Phillipa Jackson who is representing English, said that as Lord Sugar's apprentice, she had the right to expect "a degree of mentoring".

She added that for there to be a "relationship of trust and confidence" between an employer and employee, both sides must consider the job to be "a genuine occupation".

If there is to be a remedy hearing, depending on the verdict, it will take place on April 22.