PIERS MOR­GAN: DE­LI­CIOUSLY INDISCREET

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE -

SATUR­DAY, MAY 6

‘While seek­ing re­venge,’ ob­served Amer­i­can reli­gious aca­demic Douglas Hor­ton, ‘dig two graves – one for your­self.’

Two years ago, Alan Sugar spoke at my 50th birth­day party and ripped me to pieces with gems like:

‘Piers must have some ta­lent be­cause he’s too ugly to have slept his way to the top.’

So I was thrilled when he asked me to speak tonight at his top-se­cret 70th birth­day bash at the new Four Sea­sons ho­tel in Lon­don.

‘I want to see your speech,’ he de­manded a few days ago. I emailed it to him. It read: ‘Alan’s the nicest, kind­est, most gen­tle and car­ing hu­man be­ing who’s ever ex­isted on Planet Earth; a great busi­ness­man, phi­lan­thropist and hu­man­i­tar­ian, and a man renowned for his shy, re­tir­ing mod­esty. He’s lov­ing to an­i­mals and chil­dren, and the kind of guy who lis­tens to crit­i­cism and of­ten ad­mits he’s wrong rather than cause any kind of con­fronta­tion. Alan makes Mother Teresa look like a Hells An­gel and it is our priv­i­lege and hon­our just to bask in the glory of his ex­is­tence.’

‘Is this a joke?’ he re­sponded, cling­ing to 0.00001% hope I may ac­tu­ally mean any of that guff.

‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘You’ll get the real one on Satur­day.’

There were 70 guests, one for each year of his life.

I sat with his Ap­pren­tice slaves past and present, Kar­ren Brady, Claude Lit­tner and Nick Hewer, and we en­joyed a splen­did feast be­fore the speeches be­gan with his grand­chil­dren recit­ing a very funny rhyming tribute. Then it was my turn. ‘Alan’s made a spec­tac­u­lar suc­cess of him­self,’ I said. ‘If you don’t be­lieve me, just ask him and he’ll tell you.’ The room chor­tled with know­ing laugh­ter. ‘He built a £1.2 bil­lion com­puter com­pany called Am­strad. Un­for­tu­nately, there was another beardy-weirdy com­puter geek with anger man­age­ment is­sues called Steve Jobs who also cre­ated a tech firm be­gin­ning with the let­ter A.

‘Alan didn’t en­tirely recog­nise the mag­ni­tude of the threat. In 2005, he con­fi­dently pre­dicted: ‘Next Christ­mas, the iPod will be dead, ka­put.’ Ap­ple has since sold 350mil­lion iPods.’ I turned to foot­ball: ‘Alan was a bril­liant chair­man of Spurs – if you’re an Ar­se­nal fan.

‘In his nine-year reign, Tot­ten­ham never once fin­ished in the top six.’ Then tele­vi­sion: ‘After Alan fired me in a Comic Re­lief episode of The Ap­pren­tice, I went on the US celebrity ver­sion of the show and was cho­sen as win­ner by the now Pres­i­dent of the United States. Thus prov­ing Don­ald Trump is a bet­ter judge of busi­ness skills than Alan Sugar.

‘Alan re­peat­edly pre­dicted Trump had zero chance of be­com­ing Pres­i­dent. “He will,” I in­sisted, “and when he does, I’m go­ing to have you de­ported from your Florida home.” So start pack­ing your bags, sun­shine.’ Fi­nally, his mar­riage. ‘The Sug­ars mar­ried in 1968, so next year’s their 50th an­niver­sary,’ I said.

‘To put this into per­spec­tive, for my Killer Women se­ries I in­ter­viewed a mur­der­ess who blud­geoned her en­tire fam­ily to death and only got 44 years.’

When Sugar spoke, the old growler went all ro­man­tic on us.

‘They say be­hind ev­ery great man is a woman,’ he said. ‘Now I know you’re wait­ing for the joke here but there isn’t one. It’s true in my case. My won­der­ful wife Ann looks after me like a baby and loves me to bits, and I love her also. I’ve been hap­pily mar­ried for 49 years, though you’d have to ask her how long she’s been hap­pily mar­ried. She’s also been the best part­ner I could ever hope for, though un­like the Ap­pren­tice ones she costs me con­sid­er­ably more than £250,000 a year.’

Of his child­hood friends in the room, he said: ‘Our early life se­crets are safe be­cause none of us can re­mem­ber them. We’re so old we con­fuse hav­ing a clear con­science with a bad mem­ory.’

And about his ex­tended Sugar clan, he chuck­led: ‘The only thing I’ve learnt about fam­ily over the years is that what­ever hap­pens you can’t bloody fire them!’

His real tar­get, though, was me. The zingers flew fast and fu­ri­ous for more than 15 very long min­utes:

‘I didn’t want a big show­biz event with loads of pop­u­lar celebri­ties, so that’s why I in­vited Piers.’

‘He’s a bril­liant in­ves­tiga­tive journalist. I know that be­cause I de­lib­er­ately gave him the wrong lo­ca­tion and date for tonight but he got here any­way.’

‘Ac­tu­ally, Piers is a long-time pal but please keep that ad­mis­sion in this room. I’m the pres­i­dent of his fan club, and the sec­re­tary and trea­surer. I have to be, I’m the only mem­ber.’

‘We first met when I used to give him scoops at the Mir­ror. Look­ing at his waist­line, it looks as if he’s had a lot more scoops since – of ice cream. He re­cently crit­i­cised Kim Kar­dashian’s cel­lulite. Hmm. Un­sightly blub­ber no­body wants to see on TV? Pot. Ket­tle.’

‘He’s been a big suc­cess on the ITV break­fast show, “Beauty And The Beast”. He has to work that early be­cause he has to go back to his crypt when the sun comes up.’

‘I’ve been fre­quently asked why I haven’t slapped Piers in the face. The truth­ful an­swer is, I hate queu­ing.’

De­spite this on­slaught, it was a fan­tas­tic party.

As for what you buy the man who can af­ford ev­ery­thing, the an­swer in my case was an an­tique Bel­gian white-bearded gnome point­ing his fin­ger as if he was shout­ing ‘YOU’RE FIRED!’

Dis­ap­point­ingly, Sugar loved it.

Piers MOR­GAN

MY LIFE AND OTHER CELEBRI­TIES

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