23rd December 2016
Apprentice star Nick Hewer describes his time at Tottenham Hotspur with Lord Sugar to UCFB students
Most know Nick Hewer from his time on The Apprentice as Lord Sugar’s spectacled right-hand man, but little know of his experience in working in the elite levels of professional football.
Hewer, now the popular host of Countdown, was running his own London-based PR company when he and Alan Sugar met after Sugar hired Hewer’s team to look after the PR for his electronics company Amstrad.
The pair immediately struck up a relationship which exists to this day, and had to be stronger than ever when Sugar purchased Tottenham Hotspur in 1991 where Hewer was tasked with looking after the press for the club’s board.
Though not a football man by nature, Hewer’s knowledge and PR expertise was clear for all UCFB Wembley students to see when he visited Wembley Stadium to speak to them as part of the Executive Guest Speaker Series, and his stories from working at Tottenham with Sugar for nearly a decade engrossed those in the audience.
Asked what made football such a different beast compared to a conventional business, Hewer was adamant in his response. He said: “The customers’ passion. What other industry has its consumers and buyers roaring abuse at the ref and the chairman? The answer is none and that makes it hugely different.”
Many Tottenham fans are critical of Sugar’s time at the club, despite him buying the White Hart Lane side when they were facing financial ruin. High profile incidents such as a very public court case between Sugar and ex-manager Terry Venables, and Sugar successfully fighting The FA in overturning an FA Cup ban and points deduction meant Hewer was at the forefront of the mass media coverage such incidents attracted.
So going from a business that had a handful of shareholders, to one with thousands of baying fans and a hungry press pack was a big learning curve for someone even as experienced as Hewer was.
He said: “Every football club knows how delicately their fan base has to be handled, you have to recognise that they are paying good money. They and their families are passionate about the team, so therefore you’ve got to take it very seriously.”
Hewer finished: “By and large fans aren’t interested in the financial stability of the company. They know they’re paying X amount of money on a Saturday and they want to see their team win, and they’re not that bothered if the company that runs them goes bust on Monday as long as they beat their fiercest rivals. That’s the reality.”