Westminster, UK – Beleaguered British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, currently reeling in the wake of a series of resignations from senior government ministers, is obviously running short of people prepared to work for him and has appointed the star of the UK version of The Apprentice to a government job.
Sir Alan Sugar, boss of Amstrad and Viglen Computers, has also been rewarded with a peerage for accepting the job of Enterprise Czar. Sugar, owner of an ego the size of Westminster Abbey, famously insists on being called ‘Sir Alan’, so presumably will henceforth be addressed as ‘Your Grace’ – possibly the least appropriate term imaginable to refer to the grizzled tycoon, famed for his short temper.
When this reporter worked for him, many years ago, he was plain old Mister Sugar. No one was allowed to call him Alan. I have the dubious claim to fame of being fired by His Grace, Sir Mister Sugar years before he was famous for growling ‘Yer fiyud’ at hopeless apprentices on national TV.
Members of Parliament across the political spectrum have been reeling over publication of their expenses. One Conservative MP claimed cash for cleaning the moat at his country home and a floating duck island to go on his lake, while the husband of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who quit last week ‘to spend more time with her family’, was caught renting porn videos at the taxpayers’ expense.
The US IT sector is, of course, more replete with monster egos than what little remains of the UK computer industry. Ross Perot, who was so self-obsessed that he ran for President, obviously springs to mind. During his tenure at the helm of EDS, he famously banned men from wearing skirts and women from growing beards. [Are you sure this is right? – Ed]
Gary Kildall, boss of Digital Research, who was so sure that if IBM really wanted an operating system for its first PC that they’d come back to see him when he wasn’t busy flying his plane, was no doubt surprised when the Big Blue suits gave the job to some guy called Bill Gates instead.
Other contenders for the Ego has Landed award include Sun’s Scott McNealy, who has clearly spent a fair proportion of his fortune on cosmetic dentistry, Michael Dell, Craig Barratt, Jerry Sanders and Bill Gates, who is, let us not forget, an honorary knight. And then there’s a couple of Steves – Apple Messiah Jobs and Microsoft head honcho Ballmer – both infamous for shouting at people.
But our favorite for the title remains Oracle’s Larry Ellison. Not only is he always right, but he owns a racing yacht and an ex-Soviet fighter jet.