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4.5 out of 5 stars425
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on 11 November 2010
I have just finished this book and what a surprise! It is not what I expected I did not really like Alan Sugar before I read this book, but I found this book absolutely fascinating I could not put it down Its one of the best autobiographies that I have read it just shows you there are 2 sides to every story especially regarding Terry Venables what sly and corrupt person he was.The press have certainly only portrayed one side to this story but at last Alan Sugar has the chance to put his side.I would recommend this book to everyone it just shows with a lot of hard work even someone from the poorest backgrounds can achieve brilliant results.
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on 5 November 2010
It may seem odd but I have watched 'The Appentice' only once, for some reason I just did not relate to the programme. Having said that I have always had great admiration for Alan Sugars and his ability to see the wood for the trees. The insight into the life and the growing up of a young boy of a not too wealthy Jewish family was fascinating. Even at an early age Alan's brain was tuned to spot opportunities and how to use them to best advantage. That should be a lesson to us all, although I think entrepreneurs are born and cannot trained.

I was in my teens and twenties at the same time as Alan was having his ideas and turning them into items to sell in vast numbers at the expense of his rivals. It was an exciting era when technology was entering our homes and offices in a way that had never happend before, and all at affordable prices.

Alan's excellent book reflects his way of saying, doing, planning and marketing things and how to cope with business adversity. His obvious love of his family is a credit to him, the world would be a better place if there was more of that.

The reason I awarded four stars rather than five was because of my total lack of interest in the game of football and its politics.

Once started, I could not put the book down, it is compulsive reading and a fantastic bargain at Amazon's price.
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on 19 October 2010
Alan Sugar was a born opportunist. From a very early age he could see an opportunity to make money where other people saw a pile of junk. Couple this with a fierce desire to do well and we learn - from his autobiography What You See Is What You Get - how he transforms from a young and naive lad to the supremely successful businessman that Lord Sugar is today.

The book takes you on his journey in his own blunt way of speaking, from when he was a poor, young loner to becoming a multi-millionaire in his thirties; a football club chairman in his forties; a Knight of the Realm and a television phenomenon in his fifties; and Lord Sugar, Baron Sugar of Clapton in his sixties.

The first half of the book is mainly about the rise of the company he created - Amstrad. It goes into great detail about how Alan Sugar built it into a multi million pound industry from scratch, using nothing more than common sense, an eye for an opportunity and a self taught ability to negotiate and hustle. There is not much mention of his family in this section, other than briefly covering the main events such as marriage to his wife, Ann, the birth of their children, moving house etc.

The second half covers the period as Tottenham Hotspur's Chairman; how he became a television personality, a Knight and a Lord; and the dignified demise of his beloved company Amstrad.

The book doesn't go into any detail on how the pressures of building up the Sugar Empire impacted his family or friends. It only touches on some points in this area. It does, however, give an insight into how Alan Sugar felt whenever his loyalty was betrayed and in particular, when he became victim to negative media coverage - especially during his time as Tottenham Hotspur Football Club chairman. As well as the harsh, business tycoon we see portrayed in The Apprentice television show, the book also reveals a more sensitive and private side of Alan Sugar.

I don't know if Alan Sugar physically typed the words of the book himself, but there's no doubt that it's written in his own voice - you can just hear him saying things like: "I've bleedin' had it up to the neck with all that crap!" and "Either you get me the bloody boat for five million dollars or stop driving me bleedin' mad!". At times `the voice' seems cocky and full of himself - but then who wouldn't be, with the achievements that Alan Sugar has made to date.

One of the most impressive things about Alan Sugar's life is that he's gone through some major business ups and downs and yet he's never lost his own personal fortune, and it appears that the closeness of his family and inner circle of friends remains intact.

This is a book well worth reading if only to hear the facts from the horse's mouth. But it's also a journey that takes the reader along, through the risk taking, the money making, the conflicts with the media and his adversaries - to the survival of a highly respected business man, famous entrepreneur, decent family man and loyal friend.
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on 2 October 2010
I've never watched The Apprentice and didn't know a great deal about Alan Sugar until I read this book. It's a compelling read, especially the section on his early business career. It gives a fascinating insight into the drive required to create a successful business. Alan Sugar comes across as straight-talking, no-nonsense and likeable (although I'm not sure he wants people to think that). As I'm just in the throes of setting up a new business, I found his book both encouraging and inspiring. A great read!
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I don't normally read biographies, and probably would not have bought this book had I not have 'got to know' the persona of Alan Sugar by following The Apprentice over the past few years. That said, I'm glad I did as by reading the book you get an insight into the real Alan Sugar - not just the side portrayed on television.

I won't discuss the contents of the work, as that is self explanatory - the life story of the man himself. My review is on the reading 'experience' of the story.

The book is written in a fluent, easy going manner. Easy to pick up, not so easy to put down, I read it in three days. I found it to be written with candidness, honesty and humor. Particularly fascinating for me was the early Amstrad days; the time when the tape-to-tape music centre was the thing to have.... and from there-on-in the story and Amstrad brand really begins its roller coaster journey.

To conclude, all I can say is lay aside any political persuasions and preconceived opinions you may have and enjoy this book for what it is - an entertaining, enjoyable, and to a point inspiring insight into the corporate world and into the life of a true entrepreneur.

A fabulous read - recommended.
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on 4 November 2010
I pre-orderd this book as soon as I heard about it in September and had it downloaded to my kindle as soon as it was available.
I've read several 'rags to riches' books including James Caan, Duncan Bannatyne Anita Rodick and Richard Branson. While all of those books were inspiring, this one has to be the daddy.
We've all heard various things about Alan Sugar over the years and formed our own opinions but this book finally dispells the myths and tells us in Sugar's infamous no-nonsense prose exactly how it was.

I really enjoyed discovering how he rose from selling car arials from his clapped out van to international business man with his finger firmly on the pulse of the cutting edge electronics world. Of course, as explained later in the book, the way people do business has changed a great deal over the years, much to Lord Sugar's frustration, so certain lessons have become obsolete, but what the book does give you is a sense of the determination and drive needed to create a successful business and that will always be relevant.

Although I have no interest in football, it was very interesting to read how Lord Sugar applied his business accumen to running a football club and the uproar it caused. It was also interesting to get a new insight into Gordon Brown besides the one we get from the media. I can't help wondering what would happen if Lord Sugar ever decided to run for Prime Minister, now that really would be something to see!

Over all, a thoroughly compelling read that I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone. If you only ever read one success story, then make it this one. Oh and a note for Kindle users - all the photographs that appear in the physical book are also in the kindle version right at the end.
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on 17 November 2010
I really enjoyed reading this book from Alan Sugar. I'm not sure if he wrote it personally, and I see there is some debate about whether or not he did, but I'd be shocked if he didn't at least write MOST of it, purely because there was just so many details and the fact that it 'sounded' like him - i could hear him almost talking to me through the book as it is written in very much 'his style' and manner of speaking. This is not a quick 'feelgood' type of book, it really gets down to the nitty gritty of what it is like building a huge business from scratch and includes relentless details about exactly how this all happened. This may put some people off and makes the book rather long, but for me I thought it was the best part. This book will really appeal to you if you have even the slightest inkling of the spirit of doing business inside you (I hesitate to say the word 'entrepreneur' because Lord Sugar mentions both on the telly and in his book about how he doesn't like people using this term to refer to themselves, and I quite agree!).

A fairly big chunk of this book dealt with Lord Sugar's time with Tottenham Football Club. Not being a football fan at all, I let out a big moan when I came to this part expecting to be thoroughly bored by it. However what transpired was very interesting indeed even though I know nothing about either football or Lord Sugar's prior involvement in it. There were a lot of valuable lessons that can be taken from this section in particular, as it represented what was obviously the most challenging time of his entire career and a lot of very difficult decisions that had to be made. I tend to be prone to 'giving up' when the going gets tough, when I enter times in my business where I have to deal with difficult situations. The fact that Lord Sugar persevered for 10 years is either very committed and strong of him, or very stubborn and bad for ones health - i'm not entirely sure which! Nevertheless this was the most helpful part for me to see how difficult times were dealt with by other people in business and how they overcame that.

So then - in short, if you like business and want ALL the details of exactly how, why, and when everything in this remarkable man's life happened, then get this book!
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on 16 February 2011
Lord Sugar is the kind of person I always want to know more about - how did someone like him, a boy discriminated from a large, poor family, climb the ladder of success so quick and high?

This peek-through-the-dining-room-window type, neighbourhood tour tells the tale of Alan Sugar's life and works, including everything from; the creation of a range of products; to the development of his professional relationships in the UK and abroad; to his move from the cramped family flat in Clapham to the more spacious and delightful surroundings of the London suburbs.

Reading the book I genuinely enjoyed the anecdotal style. The essence of the man is caught on every page; his early adventures that formed his path through to his light bulb, wisdom moments. It is this man's decades of experience down in black and white. The diversity of the book, the discussion of family, school, friends, business affairs and also the ordeals at Tottenham bring colour and lay out some fantastic gems. For example I gained a simple yet valued lesson from the following, 'never form an opinion of a person based on information given to you by others'. Alan Sugar learnt the hard way that no matter how sincere their comments others may still be incorrect in their judgement. The adventurous, fighter attitude personified in the book is an inspiration, it's a really booster for the spirit when embarking on new projects or dealing with change. 'Never be in a position where one person controls my destiny' tells Lord Sugar, another maxim that prods us to rethink and shake up our current way of life.

If you're reading this review you already have the intrigue that the autobiography is sure to satisfy. 'What You See is What You Get' is an engaging account of the course Lord Sugar took to gain the great achievements in his numerous businesses. A recommended book for the bedside, something to set things straight.
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on 7 February 2013
Apparently, Alan Sugar hates wafflers. After slogging through over 600 pages of this, it seems it takes one to know one. Books often suffer because of a lack of detail but in this case there is just far too much of it. Some information, like accounts of Terry Venables financial skulduggery to raise funds for his takeover at Tottenham, is highly relevant. Much more - technical minutiae about his various products - is tedious and mind-numbingly complex and some - such as conversations he had with his production staff on "The Apprentice" - is simply unnecessary. I could have done without knowing that Ricky Gervais waved to him at the BAFTAS or the entire page he devotes to a disagreement he had with his gardener over a tree. By insisting on including so many trivial anecdotes like this the narrative is turgid and never picks up any momentum. It's a pity because there is definitely a great read in here somewhere, probably around two-thirds the length and with a ghost writer (he wrote it himself, I'm told) capable of expressing Sugar's thoughts in a more fluent and articulate manner which really captivates the reader. As it is, this book never rises above the mediocre and frequently fails even to do that. A missed opportunity.
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on 11 November 2010
This is one of the best autobiographical books ever, have laughed all the way thru, even in his darkest times his humour shines thru, he is a true claptonian - (i was brought up nearby), he shines as a family man and is a genuine example of an entrepreneur - you couldn't make it up. What a great read. Well done Alan Sugar you deserve to be where you are. SK, Middlesex
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