Lord Sugar has said it would be “absolutely out of the question” for him to leave the BBC should The Apprentice be sold to a rival channel.
Branding Love Productions’ controversial decision to sell the rights to The Great British Bake Off “a disaster”, the 69-year-old confirmed that, if the format made a similar exit from the BBC, he would not follow.
Lord Sugar told the Press Association: “In my case, my profession is not television. I don’t derive my income from TV and I find that the BBC have given me this platform to perform in this programme, which I appreciate, and I would find it absolutely out of the question that if they decided to allow the format to go somewhere else I wouldn’t be going with it, that’s for sure.”
The multimillionaire businessman has predicted a dip in ratings when Bake Off moves to Channel 4 for the next series - without judge Mary Berry and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.
Lord Sugar said: “I personally think that Channel 4 are going to be disappointed with the value for money that they think they are going to get.”
Asked who could fill his shoes should the move happen, Lord Sugar said: “That’s a question for you not for me. I am not unique. I am sure there must be someone out there.”
Series 12 of The Apprentice starts on Thursday, and Lord Sugar is calling on the BBC to produce a spin-off show to highlight the successes of the past winners.
He said: “It’s just an idea of mine that the BBC should consider - a spin-off show about how the past winners of The Apprentice are doing.”
Since the show’s format for Series 7 - from a role working for Lord Sugar to becoming his business partner with a £250,000 investment - Lord Sugar has gone into business with five candidates: Tom Pellereau (2011), Ricky Martin (2012), Leah Totton (2013), Mark Wright (2014) and Joseph Valente last year.
The business magnate admits he likes to promote their businesses on Twitter - where he is also known for his ongoing spat with television presenter Piers Morgan - although he admits they are “secretly friends”.
He also answers some of the people who troll him on the social media site.
Lord Sugar said: “Twitter is a great social media thing for me and quite shamelessly I like to promote the companies of some of the apprentices and I like to promote when the show is on air and all that type of stuff. I also like to comment about football.
“I engage in arguments with people in healthy debates - some of the abuse that I receive on there, sometimes I like to give them as much as they dish out and they deserve it.”
* Series 12 of The Apprentice starts on BBC One on October 6 at 9pm.