Recently and with Honda like reliability, every time I open a should-have-been-dead-a-long-time-ago-newspaper there happens to be a business interview with some nobody ambiguous business-man. These interviews seem to follow the same old repertoire of banal questions and answers. Modern newspaper journalists can’t seem to get enough of interviewing small-time businessmen that haven’t quite ‘made it’ so to speak, these ill trained ‘journalists’ then proceed to subject their readers to the same questions every journalist in the world has used for every single business interview. Ever.
Evidence would suggest that when journalism students were given their “how to interview” text-books at university, they were in fact, just a single small piece of paper with just one question on it, this question read: “Who is your business hero”?
When I read these ‘interviews’ in national broadsheet newspapers, I am, with Metronome regularity, subjected to the very same answers that I’ve happened to read nine thousand times before. The answers are so generic that one could transpose them with biblical cliches and the Proverbs would still not appear out of place. Virtually every interviewee retorts with “Richard Branson”. Eugh.
While I like Richard Branson, he’s a little dull when compared to the Fox-esk business dexterity of the machiavellian Bernie Ecclestone. I don’t have a ‘business hero’, but I have incredible respect for Ecclestone. His genius is stunning.
One of his triumphs was the selling of Formula One several times over without relinquishing ownership.
However, as much as I look upon Ecclestone with adoration, I’ve not ever believed a bloody word of what he says to the press; Ecclestone likes to ‘play’ with the journalists, and almost always for his own gain and amusement. While I find these interviews entertaining, I highly doubt there is a shed of reality in what he says…He’s brilliant. He’s top of my list of people I’d like to meet.
As such, I’ve pulled some of his quotes from a recent interview that was primarily about his daughters. The interview from which these quotes are pulled appeared in the Guardian.
I’ve translated some of Bernie’s answers as he can be ambiguous at times and I’m sure you’d like to know what he really means;)
Interview answers with translations
Bernie - On his daughters million dollar Crystal bath:
“First, it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t a crystal bath for a million quid. It’s the hype again. Makes me bloody mad. It cost nothing like that. Not true. Not at all.”
“It was way more, I’m sorry to say. While she won’t get to the bottom of her trust fund any time soon, it’s a bit O.T.T for a bath.
Bernie: When asked about his daughters image in the media:
“I spent the weekend with both of them at Petra’s wedding,” Ecclestone says, “and Tamara was an angel. Nothing like that show in any shape or form. She was Tamara.”
“I think that show hit the nail on the head when it comes to describing what my daughters really like”.
Bernie - When asked about why he paid a bribe to an official in Brussels:
“I asked the trust: ‘What’s going to happen if this guy tells the revenue that I’m managing the trust, which is what he was inferring?’ They said: ‘If he does, the revenue will want to come and check and they’ll assess you and you’ll be in court for three years proving all the things that are wrong, and it’ll cost you a fortune, and the trust as well. You’d be assessed at 40% tax on about £3bn. I said: ‘I can’t afford it. What shall I do?‘”
(I can't imagine Bernie ever asking someone "what to do" when it comes to making a deal - of any sort).
“The bribe went bad when he tried to double cross me. Now I’m going to punish him by stating that I was forced to because of his blackmail skulduggery. If this was 1970, I’d have sent him on an all expenses permanent holiday down the Thames in a concrete Canoe. Alas, street justice has fallen out of fashion with the authorities in recent years.
I said to the trust, ‘I have a Boeing sized deal going down but there is this Eurocrat sleaze-ball that wants nearly 30 million Euros to make the deal happen. What shall I do, what do you think the trust said? Of course they said I should pay the bribe to make us even richer. Doh.”
Bernie: On why he paid the Euro-Schmuck £27,500,000
What he did, as he told the court, was to pay him £27.5m to keep schtum: “I thought it might keep him quiet and peaceful and friendly and stop him doing silly things.”
“I paid him that money and still got fucked, go figure”
Bernie - On his opinion of his biography. Which he hasn’t read:
“I don’t read books. But most people who read it thought it was a good book. Did you read it?”
“Of course my book is good, everyone in the world knows it, even illiterate children in Africa are raving about it”.
Bernie: On the author of his biography and why they failed to uncover much ‘dirt’:
“That’s what the problem was. I used to say to Tom – because we’ve become quite good friends – ‘What can I do that’s evil for you?’ He was upfront with me and I gave him complete co-operation. Anyone he wanted to speak to, I called and said: ‘Talk to this guy – tell him the truth.’ Because he had a reputation coming in. Somebody called me and said: ‘There’s a guy doing a book on you, but he’s not a normal guy for doing books, he’s destroyed a few people.’ I said it wouldn’t be a bad idea if he came and had a chat before he started destroying me, because maybe he could find even more to destroy. So Tom arrived and we had lunch and that’s how the name of the book came about. I said: ‘You write what you like, provided it’s more or less the truth, because I’m no angel.’ And when we’d finished the book, he said: ‘Would you mind if I called the book No Angel?’ I said: ‘Bloody good name.’”
“Nobody would dare utter a bad word about me, if they want to live.”
Bernie - On the Bahrain protests:
“The people I’ve met there are lovely people,” Ecclestone says, prompting the response that jailing doctors for treating demonstrators doesn’t seem very lovely.
“Too right they should lock people up for contributing to the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix this year, including the meddling Doctors”.
Bernie – On putting on an F1 Grand Prix in countries with questionable human rights policies:
“We pulled out of South Africa years ago (in 1985) because of apartheid. I witnessed things that had happened there which upset me. I thought: ‘That ain’t the way to go on.’ I hope we go to Bahrain and there’s no trouble – the race goes on, the public are happy and there are no dramas. That’s what I hope.”
“Apartheid-Shmartheid – If they had paid the money, we’d never have left South Africa and if Bahrain continues to pay enough we’ll stay there too, regardless as to how many civilians are slaughtered. God, I love fooling people with this BS political correctness.”
Bernie: On his morals about running in countries with a dangerous and volatile political system:
“We’d have to give it some serious thought then. But we’ve been to Argentina when there’s been big dramas. There’s been dramas in Brazil. Bad things happen there. I think you can look anywhere now and it’s not all good. You can’t really hold England up as being all good, can you? There have been some terrible atrocities that we committed.”
“Where there is money, I’ll follow. If they want to stage a ‘Middle-Eastern version of Monaco’ around the streets of Islamabad I’d agree. As long as they paid my extortionate fees – obviously.”
All just for fun of course – not a word of the above is true