Lord Sugar takes on the role of a “firm but fair” headmaster – and shows his softer side – in his new series Junior Apprentice.

The teen version of The Apprentice shows 16 and 17-year-old aspiring tycoons, some of whom are already running their own businesses, displaying their raw business talents to win access to a fund worth £25,000.

Viewers will see Lord Sugar warn the youngsters that he is no “happy clappy teacher”, adding: “You can look at me as the head teacher that you’ll love to hate. I’ll be firm but fair.”

Asked if he had modified his manner, Lord Sugar, who left school aged 16, said: “I obviously had to consciously recognise that I was dealing with much younger people.

“And so obviously I spoke to them in a much different manner than you would do to more mature candidates.”

Asked about concerns over youngsters receiving the boardroom treatment, Lord Sugar said programme makers “bent over backwards to ensure that none of these children were exploited in any way or form.”

He said the parents were involved “every single minute of what was going on”.

Lord Sugar also expressed his “frustration” at Lord Lloyd-Webber appearing on Over the Rainbow while his own show The Apprentice was delayed to avoid a General Election clash.

Lord Sugar took up a seat in the House of Lords last year as the Labour Government’s enterprise tsar, raising concerns about possible impartiality risks.

Lord Sugar said: “We’ve seen (Lord) Lloyd-Webber on TV in the middle of the election, as you saw the other day with his television programme on Saturday.

“We saw him in The Sun newspaper last week saying that he backs Mr Cameron and all that stuff. So you can imagine how frustrated people like me are.”

Junior Apprentice begins on Wednesday May 12 at 9pm.