Launching the fourth series of The Apprentice, the star of the show Sir Alan Sugar laughably dismissed the idea of his show taking any notice of European Union employment laws.

“There are no rules in The Apprentice, really,” he said, in response to a question about City paranoia over employee lawsuits.

“I don’t want to waste time talking about these stupid European Community rules of employment. I do what I like and if they don’t like it, they can p*** off.”

There was more. “We don’t sit there with a rulebook and go, ‘Oh, can I sneeze in front of this person?’ They get it from me whether they like it or not. And as you saw in last year’s Apprentice a lady who likes to spend a lot of time in the nude in fields contemplated whether her children and the location in which she lived was going to upset her working plans and I think that made her think a little bit [about working with me].”

The woman to which he referred, Katie Hopkins, pulled out of The Apprentice 2007, citing worries over her family’s relocation, at a point when she could have gone on to win it.

Sir Alan then dismissed her as evidence of contestants who enter the show for the wrong reasons. “[Various newspapers] paid her an amount of money that she would have earned if she’d worked for me for a year – but now, no one will touch her with a barge pole, really. She had her moment.”

The Apprentice 4 screens on Wednesday, March 26, on BBC One.