Maybe Terry would be better off if he had taken an apprenticeship under Sir Bob

Alf’s fellow blogger at Keeping Stock obviously didn’t have a Sunday sleep-in this morning, because more than two hours ago he was posting an item about Sir Bob Jones and a bloke with a Greek-sounding name that is not easily pronounced.

Yeah – that’s it. Terry Serepisos.

Mrs Grumble can pronounce it and moreover she reckons he is a bit of a hunk.

Anyway, thanks to Keeping Stock Alf’s attention was drawn to an item in the Sunday Star-Times which quotes Jones as saying the appointment of Serepisos to host the TV reality show The Apprentice was “shocking” and his excuses for failing to pay bills “childish”.

Serepisos’ personal finances have been dragged into the limelight over the past week or so as the news media regale us with reports that either he or his interests owe millions in unpaid bills.

He told the Dominion Post last weekend that this was because he was “not immune to the global crisis; people owe me a lot of money”.

But Jones …deemed Serepisos “childish” to blame the recession for his inability to pay his bills.

“He made imprudent decisions, simple as that… bleating about the recession, I’m tired of it. Recessions are normal in a healthy market economy and in our business you have to anticipate it. It’s like complaining it’s wintertime.”

Naturally, Jones took the opportunity to remind us (or was it to claim?) that he was the show’s first choice for the role of the Donald Trump-inspired Kiwi Apprentice boss.

Jones said he declined a request from Great Southern Television to be the show’s frontman because he disagreed with the show’s concept.

“I don’t want to do silly things like that, you don’t treat people that way, like yelling out `you’re fired’ and make them do silly little tests. I would rather know how many books they read and do they drink beer out of a bottle at functions, judgement things.”

But here’s the bit that drew a belly laugh from Alf:

Jones accused Serepisos of being thirsty for publicity and willing to attend frivolous events – “like hairdresser openings” – in a bid to get his face in newspaper society pages. “He’s a harmless little fellow, he likes getting into the paper and there is nothing wrong with that.”

Jones accusing anyone of being thirsty for publicity is a bit like John Key accusing Phil Goff of trying to win political support.

But Alf was more interested in learning how to go about trying to get a higher ranking on the NBR Rich List.

According to the Sunday Star-Times, Serepisos last year approached the National Business Review – compilers of the list – to tell them he was worth millions more than the publication had thought, and that his ranking in the list should be elevated.

NBR’s editor Nevil Gibson is quoted as saying Serepisos produced letters saying he was worth $140 million.

And so we learn:

… the Star-Times has obtained two letters Serepisos provided NBR last year in a bid to have his net worth quoted in the 2009 Rich List as $140m. The 2007 and 2008 Rich List valued him at $100m.

“[Serepisos] insisted he was worth a lot more than we had previously valued him at,” NBR editor Gibson said. “Our initial valuation, which is done without inside knowledge, had him considerably lower.”

But Serepisos had lawyer Sean O’Sullivan write to Gibson: “Terry has provided me with a signed schedule, prepared by his financial brokers, listing his properties, their most current values and the existing debt on each… on that basis I can confirm that the schedule showed a net worth of in excess of $140,000,000.”

The financial adviser referred to by O’Sullivan was Nobu Muir, who supplied a further letter: “Based on the information that we have on file, we can confirm that Terry Serepisos and his related enquiries currently have a combined net worth in excess of $140 million.”

Actually, Alf considers it good advice to stay off the Rich List, because finishing up there is apt to draw the attention of the Inland Revenue Department as well as bludgers asking for handouts.

If he were a Rich Lister, he certainly would expect the Tararua District Council to lean heavily on him for any unpaid rates, and not go easy as apparently happens in Wellington and Lower Hutt if the Serepisos situation has been accurately reported.

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