Why I'm a fan of Alan Sugar's 'The Apprentice'

While the BBC may waste vast quantities of our money, The Apprentice is well worth the licence fee, says Quintus Slide.

The BBC pays most of its presenters far too much, says Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times. And following the MPs' expenses saga, Auntie fears it too may have to come clean about who gets what. If so, we're in for a shock.

"You think you were upset about the moat? Wait until you read how much the bloody newsreaders get simply for reading from an autocue, looking censorious whenever the words 'Israel' or 'racism' or 'UKIP' are mentioned and not belching too often."

We already know that Carrie Grace on the unwatched BBC News channel gets £92k a year. Just think how much "that sanctimonious Welsh bloke on the 10 o'clock news" must get.

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My guess, says Liddle, a former editor of the Today programme, is that even the continuity announcers "those over-familiar, perky little twits who interrupt the end of the programme you're watching to tell you that something mind-blowingly crass is about to start" get rather more than the average chairman of a select committee. Then there are all those celebrities and quasi-celebrities and game show hosts making unwatchable dross.

But while I agree with Liddle that the BBC wastes vast quantities of money, there are exceptions. The Apprentice, for example, which ended last Sunday, is surely entertaining enough to justify the relatively modest sums spent on it. It bears little relation to real business, of course, as real businessmen keep pointing out. It's a game show, but a good one.

How consoling for older viewers, says Libby Purves in The Sunday Telegraph, to see Sir Alan and his sidekicks "three grizzled old Kings of the Jungle" happily scoring points off "pretty young pretenders" and setting embarrassing tasks at which we all know they will fail.

It's a good formula, as Purves says. Find 15 "more-or-less delusional 20-somethings (with the occasional over-30 dingbat, like the divine James)", encourage them to confide "their fabulous overconfidence" to the camera, wake them up very early in the mornings, "making them run to a phone in their pyjamas", then get them shining shoes or cleaning cars or 'branding' useless new products.

Then there's the deference. The "chorus of 'Good morning, Surallan!' in subdued tones of awe" we hear from the contestants at the start of each show wouldn't even be heard in a school assembly these days. As for Sir Alan's peremptory firing of the candidates, what "a Shangri-la dream" for every senior manager ground down by employment law! "No written warnings, no negotiated outplacement, no tribunals, no weighing up the risk of being taken to the cleaners" by the person sacked.

It's an exhilarating tonic in our nannyish, over-regulated world, and as a BBC licence payer I think it represents good value for money, unlike the overpaid presenters Rod Liddle writes about, or the corporation's middle managers "talking drivel" about diversity units, who we can be sure will never ever, unlike Surallan's would-be apprentices, get fired.

Tabloid money can those on the gravy train call a halt to it?

Brown's new "ragbag" cabinet includes seven unelected peers, says Fergus Shanahan in The Sun. But the biggest insult is seeing 'Lady' Glenys Kinnock lined up as Europe minister. "Glenys has been a Euro MP for Wales since 1994, enjoying the gravy train and doing enough miles on freebies to circle the world five times." She will now swap her £63k EU salary for £83k as a minister.

Her husband, Neil, is a "failed Labour leader" who was on £163k as an EU commissioner, got £273k as a payoff and is entitled to a £64,000 pension. Given how well the pair of them have done out of Europe, is 'Lady' Kinnock really likely to "stand up for us against EU dictators"?

"The Apprentice winner Yasmina Siadatan progressed through the show with a thunderous expression that could curdle milk within a ten-mile radius," says Sue Carroll in the Daily Mirror. "While rival Kate Walsh's mega-watt beam rarely left her face, Yasmina's rare attempts to smile made Gordon Brown's rigor-mortis grin look like a ray of sunshine. And that hair. You could have fried chips in it.

We should have known it was all a cunning ruse. After her surprise win, Miss Siadatan appeared on You're Hired! looking like Ava Gardner's pneumatic daughter with Jordanesque boobs and, get this, lipstick. Like her chocolates, it really was a shock. Sir Alan's soulmate? Siren, more like."

A young cowboy has won $232m on the lottery, one of the biggest jackpots ever, reports the Daily Mirror. Stetson-wearing Neal Wanless, 23, is a rancher in South Dakota where his family have piled up tax debts and recently had their mobile home repossessed. Wanless thanked the Lord for his fortune and said he wouldn't squander it. "My family has been helped by the community and I intend to repay that help many times over."