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Record View: Would YOU flirt your way to top?

WOMEN should never try to flirt their way to the top at work, according to tycoon Sir Alan Sugar.

The millionaire lambasted aspiring entrepreneurs on the BBC last night in the new series of The Apprentice, after they turned on the feminine charms to get ahead in the show's first task.

The girls' team decided the flirty approach would help them win when they were asked to sell fruit and vegetables on a market stall.

With the prize of a pounds 100,000-a-year job with Sugar at stake, they pulled out all the stops to make money fast.

Business lecturer Sharon McAllister, 30, from Stirling, was confident that wearing the tightest of tops would help them to victory. And fellow contestant Alexa Tilley, 28, tried a similar approach.

But Sugar was less than impressed.

So is there ever a time when flirting is appropriate at work?

Here, two women argue the case for ' and against.

NO

Use brains, not bodies

Businesswoman Mary Jo Devlin, 38, who lives in Glasgow

FLIRTING in the office sets back the female cause by at least 50 years.

Women have achieved so much and record numbers of, us are finally managing to break through the glass ceiling to get right to the top.

But most of us have had to work really hard to get there.

I remember when I first " started out. Clients would automatically presume I was the secretary rather than the executive they'd be working with.

I soon discovered that what really counted was brains and getting results.

You can have the sweetest smile or the best legs in the world but if you can't deliver what you're asked to do, then you're going to get found out.

Of course, in business you need to be able to think on your feet and be personable. That means you have to be able to talk to people from all walks of life and help put them at ease. The key is to do this in a professional but never over-friendly way.

Appearance is very important as it says so much about you. I tend to wear a lot of trouser suits or something that's fashionable, comfortable and smart.

I'd never wear a short skirt if I was going to an important business meeting. There's a line that you should never cross.

You're not at work to make friends or build personal relationships. You're there to get results. It's not that important to me in my working life that people like me. Of course, that's nice and a bonus but what matters is that I'm respected. To be taken seriously in the boardroom, you have to use your brain, not your body.

Saira Khan who was the runner-up in last year's Apprentice did so well because she was intelligent and mouthy.

She didn't have to fall back on her feminine charms to get ahead because she could get noticed by being effective.

Someone like Sir Alan would see right through you if you were trying to flirt with him. You'd just end up letting yourself and women in general down."

YES

Sugar must be insecure

Public relations account director Ejay McEwan, 25, also from Glasgow

I SUSPECT the almighty Sir Alan Sugar has in fact been the victim of a serious flirt.

He's highlighting a deep-rooted insecurity from his inner self. So admit it, Alan, you were duped by a powerful woman, who used her brains and her strategic flirting to outdo you.

To make such an outlandish statement as "flirting should be forbidden, dress should be modest etc" is either a very clever stunt to raise a topical debate or, as I suspect, an insecurity on the part of man who claims to be made of steel, whose arrogance and manner often offends, whose sharp tongue can ignite tears.

I say shame on you but big of you to admit this weakness.

Firstly, a woman who succeeds on the corporate ladder should utilise any strength she has. Don't be fooled, image is vital.

A strong business look with a hint of sensuality is not a tool for seduction, it is self-respect on the woman's part. Perhaps the combination of brains and coquetry is simply too much for him to bear.

Get over it, Sugar, and stop being so hypocritical. Charm is about confidence. It's about smiling and making that connection with all the people you encounter in every aspect of your life.

And it gets results.

It can be something as simple as talking your way into getting that hair appointment even if their books are full that day or it can be speaking to that company director so you know they'll remember you the next time around.

Often it is about smiling and saying the right thing so people feel good about themselves. It doesn't mean you're less likely to get the job done well either.

SUGAR'S SWEET AND SOUR RESULTS - PAGES 44 &45
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 23, 2006
Words:822
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