BBC's 'The Apprentice' could be rescheduled over Alan Sugar conflict

LONDON - The BBC Trust has ruled that the BBC must carefully consider the scheduling of 'The Apprentice' next year, due to the new role of its star, Alan Sugar, as enterprise champion advising Government.

Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the Trust, said that there was less than a year before the next general election which ‘increases the sensitivity caused by Lord Sugar's dual role'.

He said the BBC ‘must give due consideration to the implications of showing the programmes in the months immediately before a general election'.

The comments followed questions from shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt over the suitability of Lord Sugar remaining on The Apprentice while also a Labour peer advising the government as it could have an impact on the BBC's political independence.

Sugar appeared as a guest on 'The Andrew Marr Show' on 7 June 2009, the same day as 'The Apprentice Final' and discussed the BBC programme as well as answering questions about the Government role.

The Trust's Editorial Standards Committee judged that there has been no breach of the BBC editorial guidelines. It claimed Lord Sugar has advised Government before the role and that The Apprentice was not a serious factual programme.

The Trust slapped the BBC's hands for the appearance by Lord Sugar with the Children's Secretary Ed Balls at an event to promote apprenticeships.





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