Charles Burns, who was fired from The Apprentice last week, has revealed the business plan that he hoped would be backed to the tune of £250,000 by Lord Sugar if he had won the BBC reality TV series.
The business idea, which Mr Burns describes as a “hedge fund for luxury watches,” is more easily understood as a way of supercharging the grey market for Rolex and Cartier timepieces.
The scheme, which Mr Burns stresses is perfectly legal, is designed to allow him to buy up huge volumes of brand new but unsold luxury watches using other people’s money from dealers and retailers across Europe.
He will then “place” those watches with retailers in the UK. These retailers will not need to pay for the stock up-front, but only when they sell the watches.
Mr Burns says the retailers will retain around 7% of the sale price for each watch.
The wrinkle in Mr Burns’ business plan is that he does not have the cash to buy enough stock to make it work. So far he only has enough watches to sell at his family’s jeweller in Manchester.
Undeterred after failing to win Lord Sugar’s investment, the entrepreneur is hoping the British public will stump up the cash.
He has announced an offer where individuals can buy into a fund that he says will pay a 10% dividend every year.
Pressed by WatchPro on the ethics of his plan, Mr Burns was unapologetic. “It is completely legal. There is a highly liquid market for Rolexes in places like Italy, Greece and Spain and Rolex turns a blind eye. They make absurd margins, so this is fair game,” he said.