"Garden centre guy" becomes internet hit after featuring on BBC's Young Apprentice

The Secret Garden Centre in London has become an internet sensation after "garden centre guy" Roger Cox of the Crystal Palace based centre featured on BBC1's Young Apprentice last week.

Cox, who has been described as "comedy gold" in online show reviews, said: "It came out better than I thought it was going to".

Show judge, the tycoon Lord Sugar tweeted to his 2.5m followers: "Do you think the garden centre man is a relative of Bill Oddie? The garden centre man is a real character."

In the programme Cox was asked for a discount on an olive tree by Lord Sugar’s 17-year old protégée David Odihambo, but he refused, saying: "Why should I give you a discount"? "Do I ask my staff for a discount on their wages?"

"We are desperate", said Odhiambo. "If you’re desperate you would pay anything", replied Cox.

Fellow contestant Lucy Beauvallet noticed a sign saying "10 per cent of houseplants" and asked if an olive tree could be a houseplant. Cox gave her 10 per cent off.

Cox, who has owned the centre for 25 years said it was a bit of fun. "Quite a few customers have mentioned it and friends [have] given me some grief so we have a sign on the gate saying 'no discount' now.

"If I was to give a discount I’d have to give staff a discount off their wages because giving discounts disrupts profitability and buggers up costs. No-one else has asked for discount. They haven’t dared, though some of my friends do it as a joke to wind me up."

He added: "It was nice to be on BBC1 and not the Discovery Channel. The BBC get you to sign a form saying will you give up your rights for a penny. But I wrote on it that I didn’t get my penny."

However not everyone was amused by the episode. Joel Beckman, managing director at London's N1 and W6 Garden Centres said he was "horrified" by the scene: "Even if that's what one was thinking when serving people in this scenario,  we don’t think it's acceptable to talk to a customer like that. I am sure lots of garden centres get asked for discounts - we often do of course - but there are polite ways of declining."

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