PIERS MORGAN: DELICIOUSLY INDISCREET
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.
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