The Apprentice star thought it was a ‘prank’ when Lord Sugar called him to join BBC show

The Apprentice: Alan Sugar grills Tim Campbell in season one

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Tim Cambell, who won the 2005 edition of BBC’s The Apprentice and later joined Alan Sugar’s company Amstrad on a £100,000 salary, was left bewildered by the personal phone call from his former boss. The two appear to have remained in close contact since he left the firm in 2007.

Is this a prank? I thought people were going to burst in with cameras and say, ‘Got you!’

Tim Campbell

In a new interview with Radio Times, the 44-year-old gushed about his return to The Apprentice after 16 years, as a new line-up of contestants battles it out. 

When Tim saw a phone call from Alan, he recalled thinking, “‘Is this a prank?’ I thought people were going to burst in with cameras and say, ‘Got you!'”

But it turned out that the offer was, in fact, the real deal. Alongside Alan, Tim will also join the latter’s longtime ally and advisor Baroness Karren Brady. 

Claude Littner ditched the latest series to recover from a horrific injury, after falling off an electric bike in April. 

Tim continued: “I’m quite anal and data-focused. Everyone in my contacts book has their middle name and whether they’re a doctor or an OBE.

“I thought, ‘Why is he phoning?’ When he explained, I said, ‘Are you being serious?’ It was mad.”

Over the years, Tim has remained in Alan’s circle of contacts despite leaving his business just two years after joining. 

Regardless of how much time has passed since the two have professionally worked together, it seemed apparent that Tim was the ideal candidate Alan would hire for the job during his search for Claude’s replacement. 

“He was so fundamental to the change in my life,” he said of Alan. 

“I’ve always respected what he did for me because he could have put me in a broom cupboard. But he invested in me.

“Lord Sugar is about the circle of people he trusts, so I was honoured that the relationship we had meant he could pick up his phone, tell me about the difficult circumstances that had arisen, and ask me to join the panel.”

Season 15 concluded at the end of 2019 before production for a follow-up series was halted due to COVID-19. 

Elsewhere, it appeared as if Piers Morgan made a slight attempt to ruffle Alan’s feathers after taking a dig at the newest trailer of the BBC programme. 

According to the former Good Morning Britain star, the pair had a falling out last year when Piers criticised the Government’s handling of the pandemic, yet all was well just a month ago. 

In his column for Daily Mail, the father of two said that after nearly a year of no contact with the Hackney local, he “began to miss the old goat”.

“I’ve even missed Sugar as a human being,” Piers added before recalling a list of occasions he and his pal enjoyed get-away trips to St Tropez together with their families.

He also remembered Alan sending him an “incredibly kind letter” after hearing about the journalist’s father suffering a stroke. 

He noted that “beneath his gnarly, blunt and often breathtakingly rude exterior, he’s got a good heart”.

But earlier this week, after the 74-year-old released the latest teaser for The Apprentice on his Twitter page, Piers wasted no time to hop onto his social media handle to let it be known he was not looking forward to the show’s return.

“Oh no… I thought one of the few benefits of this pandemic was that we’d never have to see this – or him – on TV again…,” he wrote.

The latest issue of Radio Times is on sale now.

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