Claude Littner is better known as being Lord Sugar’s assistant, on ‘The Apprentice’. He also has an impressive and strong business background, running several companies.
After training as an accountant, Claude developed a career as a turnaround specialist; taking companies who were failing, turning them into profitable, successful organisations. He said “I have an aptitude for detecting the problems, then quickly resolving them. I am also quite good at spotting people, overlooked by hotshot bosses on enormous salaries. The middle managers who have something about them. Whenever I’ve promoted them, they’ve been grateful for the opportunity and have shone through”.
Keeping it Sweet
It was in this role as a turnaround executive, that he met Lord Alan Sugar, and agreed to chair a number of Alan’s companies. In the early 1990’s, Claude was chairman and chief executive of: Amstrad International, Amstrad Spain and Dancall Telecom. In 2009 Lord Sugar resigned from a majority of his UK company directorships, handing over his former management duties to Claude; including the chairman’s post at Viglen. When Lord Sugar was majority owner and chairman of Tottenham Hotspur football club, Claude was its Chief Executive from 1993 to 1998.
In 1997, when he was chief executive at Spurs, under Lord Sugar. Claude Littner was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma and endured three tough years of chemotherapy; facing death, he fought and recovered stating: “It really does give you a whole new perspective on life”. He started his TV career on The Apprentice, as one of the official interviewers during the CV round of the show. When PR guru Nick left the show, Claude stepped in to replace him. His tough but fair questioning of candidates has become legendary.
What’s in a Name
In 2014, the University of West London Business School was named after Claude; in appreciation of his exemplary business track record and contributions to the university. He is currently a visiting professor at the University and acts as a consultant. He encourages would be entrepreneurs, to “go and get a job, experience the world first and learn”.
Claude Littner was born in New York City, to an American mother and an Austrian-Jewish father; who worked as a chemical engineer. The family immigrated to the United Kingdom, soon after Claude’s birth. He holds joint British and American nationality, although he has stated he would renounce his American nationality; if he could afford to do so. He speaks fluent French and Spanish, which has occasionally come in handy when presenting items on ‘The Apprentice’.
Claude lives in North London, and has been married to Thelma for almost 40 years; he describes her as: “the most wonderful woman in the world”. They have two sons; Anthony 37 and Alex 36, and three grandchildren.
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Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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