Nathan Poole FCCA
Nathan Poole FCCA
Ross Brook Business Blog Sir Alan Sugar Featured

Photo credit: By Damien Everett, CC BY 2.0,

Plenty of entrepreneurs have identified the potential for profitability in dental practices over the years. The latest entrepreneur who nearly dipped his toes into dental waters is Lord Sugar, business magnate, founder of the consumer electronics company Amstrad, and host of the BBC show The Apprentice.

The show’s formula is simple. A group of young hopefuls who each have a business idea, compete to win Lord Sugar as their business partner, along with a £250k investment. Over 12 weeks, the contestants are given differing challenges in which they can prove themselves. Those who perform least well are eliminated after Lord Sugar points his finger at them and utters the immortal words:” You are fired!” Only the final few get to present their business plan.

For many of us who work in dentistry, Series 18 has been particularly fascinating due to the involvement of a young dentist. Leeds-based Dr Paul Midha performed well. With some good business instincts, sharp suits and – as you would expect from someone who calls themselves a cosmetic dentist – a winning smile, it was no surprise that he was in the final three.

What went wrong? In the penultimate episode, the three contenders all took their business plan before some of Lord Sugar’s closest business advisors. Dr Midha’s idea was to set up a company selling scrubs to dentists. It was a proposition that surprised each one of  the people he spoke to. Why abandon a business at which you are skilled and have shown you can make good profits to spend time on a business in which you have no experience?

Back in the Boardroom the next day, Dr Midha said he had changed his mind on the business plan and he invited Lord Sugar to be a partner in a new dental practice. Lord Sugar said he wanted to be a 50% partner in the entirety of his dental business. Dr Midha did not have to think for long – that was a step too far and he turned down Lord Sugar. Although he was eliminated, it was assuredly the best outcome for his dental practice business.

In an interview following conclusion of the programme Midha said; ‘In a weird way, I felt really relieved I didn’t make the final.” We are glad too!  If the young dentist had made Lord Sugar a 50% partner in VICI dental and any other practices he owned, his income would be severely depleted and his independence would be undermined. He made the right decision and hopefully reminded any dentists watching the series what a thing of value a dental practice is, especially when you have invested not only your money but blood, sweat and tears in making it your own.

As we know from our experience of working with our clients, there are nearly always ways in which you can boost the profitability of your dental practice. Giving away a 50% share, even to Lord Sugar, is not one of them!

In summary, Dr Midha discovered:

  • Establishing a scrubs business is a distraction from running a dental practice

  • Giving away 50% of a dental practice business is ill-advised

  • A well marketed dental practice is a valuable commodity