BBC may postpone next series of The Apprentice

The Apprentice may be rescheduled in 2010 because of Alan Sugar’s new political role, says the BBC Trust.

BBC News reports that the dual role of the recently appointed Labour peer and ‘enterprise Tsar’ has been criticised by Conservatives for potentially compromising the BBC’s political impartiality.

But the Trust believes a conflict of interest could be avoided if The Apprentice is not broadcast until after next year’s general election.

The election is due to be called before May next year, while The Apprentice usually premieres in March.

Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons said: “Questions have been raised about the dual role played by Lord Sugar, as star of the BBC’s The Apprentice while also a Labour peer advising the government as enterprise champion.

“The trust’s editorial standards committee has judged that there has been no breach of the BBC editorial guidelines.”

But, with an election looming, the committee noted increased ‘sensitivity caused by Lord Sugar’s dual role’.

The trust said that, when scheduling The Apprentice and The Junior Apprentice, the BBC ‘must give due consideration to the implications of showing the programmes in the months immediately before a general election’.

A BBC spokesman said: “If the next general election falls in the first part of 2010, the executive will, of course, bear the trust’s view in mind when it considers when to transmit the next series of The Apprentice.”