David Parkin on Asian business success and The Apprentice

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THIS week started with a rare trip to London.

Microsoft’s London HQ in Victoria was the venue for the launch of the National Asian Business Association.

Anyone who has been to an Asian business event will know that they are almost always lengthy and often chaotic – even the organisers admit it.

The NABA launch was neither. With Business Secretary Vince Cable the guest speaker, the event boasted senior figures from the Asian business community across the UK alongside politicians and representatives of firms including Santander, Barclays and Irwin Mitchell.

Members of the fledgling Yorkshire Asian Business Association (YABA) were there. It already boasts some key people on its board such as Amarjit Singh of Power Centres and marketeer Sharon Jandu, and has set up an advisory board that includes well known figures from the region’s business community, including Mark Robson of UKTI and Etta Cohen of Forward Ladies.

In a nice touch, NABA chairman Uday Dholakia and colleagues presented commemorative shawls – a traditional gesture of appreciation on the Indian subcontinent – to individuals including Dr Cable, to thank them for their support.

“It even had our logo on it,” I heard one recipient confide to a colleague in the post-event drinks reception. “What great brand profile,” he added.

One wag in the audience, noticing the presence of YABA and the Derby Asian Business Association, leaned over to me and said: “We’ve got the YABA and the DABA, what’s missing?”

Well, I chuckled. I always loved the Flintstones, but not as much as Top Cat.


THE employment tribunal centred on former Apprentice TV series winner Stella English’s claims against Lord Sugar is proving great theatre.

Miss English who triumphed in the 2010 BBC series to claim a job with the tycoon’s Viglen business and is now claiming constructive dismissal against the Amstrad founder.

Lord Sugar has denied the allegations and told the East London Employment Tribunal Service that Miss English was an “untrusting and suspicious person” who was full of “conspiracy theories”.

What surprises me most is that she wanted to do the job in the first place.

You probably have to go back to the first series to find a candidate that actually desired a career in business.

Most of them appear delusional dreamers who hanker after a career in the media and would run a mile from a real job.

There are several failed candidates from previous series of the Apprentice currently knocking round Yorkshire pitching themselves as “inspirational” speakers, coaches and motivators peddling a bunch of half-baked ideas.

Why would you pay to see someone who failed to win a television series about business lecturing you on how to run your business?

I learnt more about entrepreneuralism when I went to see the Ken Dodd Happiness Show at St George’s Hall in Bradford the other month.

“What a wonderful day – for running into Woolworths and shouting “Marks & Spencers…”

Ken was right – whatever happened to Woolworths?

Have a good weekend.