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Is Baggs the most crass, cocky and irritating ?

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    Posted: 29 May 2011 at 13:17

Is Stuart 'the brand' Baggs the most crass, cocky and irritating Apprentice reject ever?

By Jill Foster

Last updated at 1:22 AM on 28th May 2011

You have to feel a bit sorry for Stella English, the winner of last year’s series of The Apprentice. The ice-cool blonde breezed through every task and boardroom battle to win the six-figure salaried position in Lord Sugar’s empire.

But ask any of the 10 million viewers who tuned into the 2010 series who they remember most and only one name will crop up: Stuart Baggs.

Should anyone need reminding, Stuart was the hedgehog-haired telecoms entrepreneur who declared himself ‘The Brand’.


Always selling himself: Stuart Baggs didn't impress Lord Sugar but he made a lasting impression with viewers

At just 21 years old, he was the youngest contestant in the show’s history and with the motto ‘Everything I touch turns to sold’, very possibly the most annoying.

By rights, the boy from the Isle of Man should have been fired in the first week, yet somehow he made it all the way to the semi-finals of series 6. And love him or loathe him (usually the latter) it was all the more entertaining for his presence.

Who can forget his classic line ‘I’m not a one-trick pony, nor a ten-trick pony, but a whole field of ponies’ as he desperately fought for a place in the final. Or when he greeted Lord Sugar’s adviser, the formidable Margaret Mountford, like an old friend, only to be met with an eyebrow so arched it could have interfered with television reception.

Then there was his close encounter with business executive Claude Littner who, in a job interview from hell, told him: ‘You’re not a big fish in a small pond. You’re not even a fish.’

I am like a candle. Lord Sugar blew me out, but I've ignited again - Stuart 'the brand' Baggs 

Six months on, Stuart is easy to spot as he walks into the bar where we meet. He may have lost a stone — the result of a celebrity magazine asking him to keep a diet diary and strip off — and had a haircut, but he’s instantly recognisable, not least because his T-shirt bears his photograph and the words ‘Stuart “The Brand” Baggs’.

‘I trademarked my name,’ he announces. ‘Claude Littner told me I wasn’t a brand and that really ****** me off so, as of last week, I’m legally “The Brand”. Cost me £790.’

That doesn’t explain the T-shirt. ‘I didn’t buy it,’ he insists. ‘Someone sent it to me. But whoever made it, now I can sue them. Ha! Let’s see what Claude has to say about that, shall we?’

Blimey, he sounds in bullish mood. But it was an altogether more humble Stuart that viewers saw last, licking his wounds after a fuming Lord Sugar fired him with the words: ‘I don’t believe a word you say. My four advisers have told me that you’re full of ****. I’m annoyed that you were allowed this far through the process.’

Beneath the Baggs braggadocio, Stuart, now 22, admits he was hurt by the way he was shown the door. ‘I really wanted that job,’ he says. ‘I wanted to earn a hundred grand a year and spend it on Ferraris and parties.


Unimpressed: Lord Sugar is said to have offered Stuart a job but only when he's 'had the cockiness thrashed out of' him

‘When I was fired, I was absolutely gutted. I died a bit inside. If Lord Sugar had said what he said to any other 21-year-old kid it would have destroyed them, because it resonated even with me. It made me doubt everything I’d ever achieved and totally knocked my confidence. I thought: “Everyone is going to rip the **** out of me” — and they did.’

There’s more than a touch of a young David Brent (the corporate buffoon played by Ricky Gervais in The Office) when he explains how he survived in the show for so long.

‘I thought I’d be gone in the first week. But perhaps they thought the show would be boring without me. I’m the Ray Mears of the business world’ — a reference to the TV survival expert, who can cope for weeks in the jungle with just a ball of string and a box of matches. ‘I can make a lot with a little,’ adds Baggs. ‘And I like to think I stayed in because of my sharp business acumen. But I’m probably the only one who thinks that.

‘I’m like one of those trick birthday candles. Lord Sugar may have blown me out but I self-ignited again. He even offered me a job the other day. Well, he said he wouldn’t give me a job right now, but in two years time when I’d had the cockiness thrashed out of me, he’d give me a job. But I wouldn’t work for Lord Sugar. Maybe he can come and work for me in a couple of years.’

A generous offer maybe, but Lord Sugar is currently otherwise engaged finding a new Apprentice. What does Stuart think about the latest series? ‘It’s worse without me,’ he says, tongue lodged in cheek (I think).

‘It’s really serious this year and everyone is knuckling down because there’s a £250,000 investment at stake. I’ve got 32,000 followers on Twitter saying “Bring back Stuart” or “Who’s the next Stuart Baggs?” — but there is no “next Stuart Baggs”. That’s me. No one has a field of ponies like me.

‘I can’t even remember the names of half the contestants and I’m supposed to be taking an interest [he is working as a pundit on the new series’ spin-off The Apprentice: You’re Fired]. Edna is annoying. Melody is quite good looking. But Jim, the Irish guy is my favourite to win because he’s been consistent and Lord Sugar likes that, as we saw with Stella. Let’s face it, Stella didn’t win because of her looks, did she?’

Ouch. Perhaps Stuart is more bitter than he cares to admit. Does he think he was unfairly edited in the programme — surely no one can be quite that irritating in real life?

‘No, I probably am,’ he says, without hesitation. ‘I mean, obviously, The Apprentice makes you a caricature of the person you really are, but if you’re a bit of an idiot to begin with, it’s going to make you look more of an idiot — which is definitely what happened with me.


Contestants: Stuart Baggs, second left, with his male rivals from the show in 2010. Stella English was the winner that year and now has a job working for Lord Sugar

‘But I don’t care. At least I’m provoking a reaction and getting people talking. If people say to me: “You must cringe when you see yourself”, I think: “No, what have YOU done in your life? When was the last time I read about YOU in the papers?”

‘People shout abuse on a daily basis. I’ve had people threaten to knife me, a couple of people have tried to hit me, but people say nice things too. Someone stopped me outside Sainsbury’s today and said: “Hi, you’re Stuart, can I shake your hand?” ’

Has he learned to brush off the criticism — or does it still sting?

‘It does hurt. If I was an actor, that would be fine because I would think they hated my character, but they actually hate me. It’s never anyone intelligent having a pop at me, it’s always some kid from a council house with a can of cider saying: “I hate you.” That’s how I cope with it.

‘Besides, I’ve got a purpose on this planet. I’m a bit like Jesus Christ. You know when he died, people hated him and killed him and he forgave them, so when I die, I’ll forgive them too.’ A rather gobsmacking comparison, but let that pass. Despite the childish arrogance, Stuart is actually rather likeable in the flesh. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and, despite his best business idea on the show being a GPS system for cats — ‘in case your cat gets lost in Bermuda’ — he’s also successful.

Already a company director with his own telecoms business, he bought his first flat when he was 18 and paid off the mortgage three years later. He’s just moved to London where he rents a flat with a friend, owns a £30,000 sports car and reckons that he’s worth £1 million. ‘But that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things,’ he says. ‘I constantly feel unfulfilled. Even if I had £100 million, I’d still feel poor because I want what’s next. In five years time, I want to be head of a huge telecoms company — bigger than Alan Sugar.

‘When I was little I remember watching Time Team and they were excavating some skeletons and it gave me this horrible feeling that once

‘I don’t want to be a media sell-out. Other Apprentice contestants see the show as a platform on to a media career and that’s not me. I’ve got my own business. I hate going to parties with people who were on X Factor 20 years ago.'

you’re dead, you’re dead.

‘And let’s face it, I’m reasonably fat. The average life expectancy is say, 73, so with a bit of money, I may make it to 75, which only gives me 53 more years left on the planet. I don’t have much time, so why waste it? On my gravestone I want it to say: “Stuart Baggs — he changed the world … somehow”.’

He has what one must assume is an incredibly patient girlfriend of four years, Alison Alder, 22, a law student who lives in Chelsea, West London.

‘She’s the total opposite of me,’ he says. ‘She’s really clever. I would love kids one day. I’d really love a little Stuart that I could go and play football with. But I’ve got to find a woman who would be willing. Alison is definitely “The One” but I’m not sure she’d be willing for me to get her pregnant. She’s not up for having kids until she’s 30. But maybe I could do an Arnold Schwarzenegger and have a lovechild?’

Any business sense Stuart does have is inherited from his parents Rosemary and Stephen, who used to run a pub in the Isle of Man. Along with Stuart’s older sister Charlotte, 26, they now run one of the largest eBay companies in the country, importing leisure goods from China.

‘When I was younger I’d see all this cash being exchanged and think it was really exciting,’ he says.

‘At the Isle of Man TT festival I used to run a stall outside the pub selling


Background: Stella English may have won the top job during The Apprentice but the most memorable person from that year was Stuart

sweets. I decided to expand into selling hot drinks but my dad wouldn’t let me have a kettle because he’s not stupid and I was only eight, so I used to rob the pre-made cups from another stall and make up the drinks from the hot tap at the pub toilets. I didn’t get much repeat custom.’

Today, he spends most of his week doing media work such as panel shows, video blogs for the Radio Times, interviews for Radio Five Live and photoshoots for celebrity magazines. He’s recently appeared naked in Cosmopolitan and lost weight for a shoot where he posed in Daniel Craig’s famous blue swimming trunks. He jets back once a week to the Isle of Man to keep his hand in with his telecoms business.

‘My staff don’t like me tarting around in London,’ he says. ‘But I don’t want to be in the back room reconciling invoices. That’s boring. I want to be the public face of it. I love being infamous. I want to be like Duncan Bannatyne but with a chat show. He’s got the best of both worlds. He’s the richest man in Scotland but he’s also got his media career.’

Stuart is equally sure as to what he doesn’t want.

‘I don’t want to be a media sell-out. Other Apprentice contestants see the show as a platform on to a media career and that’s not me. I’ve got my own business. I hate going to parties with people who were on X Factor 20 years ago. I’d hate to be that person dancing on ice or making money out of reality TV shows where you go on holiday with lots of Z-listers.’

Strange, considering his current project is Celebrity 5 Go to South Africa, in which he goes on holiday with actor Christopher Biggins, singer Sheila Ferguson of the Three Degrees, ex-model Paula Hamilton and disgraced cricketer Ed Giddins.

‘Erm yes … but Biggins is A-list,’ he laughs. ‘As in: “Ay? Who is he?” But I admit, everything I say is either ironic or self-contradictory. That’s why I could never go into politics — I’d be a spin doctor’s nightmare.’

What about The Apprentice? Can he see himself on the other side of the big glass desk one day? ‘I’d love to,’ he says. ‘I’d like to be in Nick’s shoes. I’m still under contract with Talkback (the makers of the programme), which is the first time they’ve ever extended a contestant’s contract — which I think annoyed Lord Sugar. So they obviously see potential in me. But sometimes a gem comes out of that show … and here I am, talking to you.’

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