Stella English and Alan Sugar

When Stella English won The Apprentice in 2010, she must have thought it was the key to a new and successful career. However, in reality it offered an unrewarding role, a failed court case, and now a battle over legal fees.

In winning the right not to pay Lord Sugar's bills, she admitted that she had just £200 in the bank.


The original case

English triumphed in the programme in 2010, and won a £100,000-a-year job working for Alan Sugar. However, earlier this year she took Sugar to an employment tribunal, claiming that she had been forced to resign in 2011 because it wasn't a proper job.

The Tribunal ruled that she had no case, because there was no onus on Sugar to offer rewarding work. Martin Pratt, Associate in the employment team at law firm Lester Aldridge LLP, separately pointed out that "It is unsurprising that Ms English lost her case. From press reports of the case it appears that her major complaints were that while working for Lord Sugar she was given no work and that her job, effectively, did not exist. In most circumstances, however, there is no general obligation on an employer to provide the employee with something to do."

Counter-claim

However, things turned even darker for English, because Sugar made a counter claim, claiming that given that the tribunal had said the case should never have been brought, English should have to repay some of his legal fees from the case.

Now, according to Guardian, the tribunal has ruled that she didn't have to repay the costs, because she did not launch the case out of malice, but because she genuinely believed she had a case - and was acting on the advice of her lawyers.

Money worries

In the course of the tribunal, the Mirror reported English's description of her current financial position, which cannot be anything like the future she had imagined. She said that she had been working as a contractor for Citigroup until July, but had not worked since.

She owns three properties (with mortgages that she is struggling to afford), but has had to apply for housing benefit, and is considering applying for Jobseeker's Allowance. She said she had just £200 in the bank.

She added that comments made during the tribunal process had damaged her career prospects, and that her marriage had broken down, leaving her the single parent of two children. She said in her witness statement: "This entire episode has not only affected my family financially and emotionally, it has also had a devastating impact on my further career prospects. I am now an everyday parent trying to support two young children and feel unfairly penalised for standing up for myself against such a powerful opponent."