Britain’s richest gypsy, who was born in a caravan, is set to become a billionaire as his home parks empire continues to grow.
Alfie Best, who was born on the side of a road near Leicester, now lives in a £6m mansion in Surrey.
The 52-year-old started his business career in his teens selling cars and vans, before setting up a group of mobile phone stores when he was 20.
Now, more than 30 years later, he runs Wyldecrest Parks, which operates 91 mobile home parks across the UK and is worth £700 million.
The entrepreneur has even reached the point where he can even afford to buy his own £4.5 million helicopter designed by Aston Martin.
And his star looks set to keep rising as he looks set to become the world’s first gypsy billionaire as his business grows.
Alfie Best, pictured here with his his new £4.5 million Aston Martin-designed helicopter, is set to become the world’s first gypsy billionaire
The 52-year-old, pictured here for TV show Undercover Big Boss last year, owns Wyldecrest Parks, which operates 91 mobile home parks across the country
It’s a dramatic change from his childhood growing up in the traveller community, but Mr Best says even with his extreme wealth, he knows what’s most important.
He told The Sun ‘This genuinely isn’t about earning any more money. I’m of the opinion that once you have made five or ten million, then you do not need any more money than that.
‘That’s all the money in the world as far as I am concerned because that allows you to do everything.
‘After that, it’s about actually building something that makes a difference. I get a lot of criticism but I’ve got broad shoulders. You have just got to take it and accept it and realise I am lucky.’
The entrepreneur, pictured here at a gala screening of The Courier in August last year, says as far as he’s concerned he already has all the money he needs
Modest start: Mr Best was born into poverty but said he had a happy childhood. He is pictured as a child with his mother and father
The multi-millionaire, who ominously says we have entered a global recession, adds: ‘In my opinion, you are worth what you are worth when the s*** hits the fan.
Despite ongoing issues such as the cost of living crisis, Mr Best is on course to crack the £1 billion mark next year as the value of his investments and business goes up.
He said: ‘Depending on how the market goes, by the end of next year we will be £1bn in assets. But I’m a realist – anything can go wrong, you can go up and come down just as quick.’
That’s not stopped him splashing the cash while he can, with his latest purchase, a £4.5 million helicopter, coming after he turned down a £950 million offer from a hedge fund for his parks business.
‘Having a load of dough and too much time are two of the most dangerous things because idle hands make work for the devil,’ he said.
‘We can all party too much, we can all enjoy ourselves too much and, I never thought I’d say this, but we can all work too hard.’
In 2015, when he worth a paltry £200 million, Mr Best told MailOnline he didn’t ‘feel successful’.
‘What is successful? I’m still working stuff out as much as the next person.,’ he said.
‘I am in a lucky enough position to know that I made some good choices but, the truth is, I’m a bit of a dunce.
‘I get up every morning and I pinch myself and thank my lucky stars that I’ve had the luck to be where I am.’
Yet Alfie – who has lunched with former Tory Prime Minister John Major and boxer Mike Tyson – still describes himself as frugal, amid fears he could still lose everything he has worked for in a flash.
In a nod to his humility, he even turned down a request to be included in the Sunday Times Rich List in 2011.
‘I never spend beyond my means. Everything that I buy is to sell – from the cars that I drive, to the houses I own. And I know the value of everything I have,’ he said.
‘Don’t get me wrong, of course I have enough to be comfortable. But I have lived through a recession and live in fear of being in that position again.
‘When you have been through harrowing recessions, it changes you. Even though it was 25 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday.’
Success: Alfie Best, 45, was born at the roadside into a poor gypsy family but is now worth millions
That recession came in the early 1990s, just four years after Mr Best had launched his first business – a van hire centre and dealership in Forest Gate – at the age of 16.
He had learned the salesman ropes as a ten-year-old, when he conducted door-to-door sales as part of his father’s Tarmac business.
‘Have you ever heard of the expression ‘you talk as fast as a Gypsy’?’ he said.
‘When I was with my dad trying to sell as a youngster, I had 30 seconds to say my bit before the door would be closed in my face. That taught me a lot about the basics of being a good salesman.’
But, four years after launching his first business, Mr Best was plunged into financial crisis. With a hefty mortgage on his home and business, and a nationwide recession, he almost lost everything.
He said: ‘I had never been through a recession at that point and I could not understand how bad things were going to get.
‘Every day that came was a new learning day that I had not been through before and I had no choice but to draw from my experiences. Of course, it was soul-destroying.’
Mr Best said he managed to hang on ‘by the skin of my teeth’, renting out his home, increasing his bank loan and sleeping in his car for three months as he desperately tried to turn around his fortunes.
When things finally hit rock bottom, Mr Best knew he needed to get another job. He noticed that the two businesses which appeared to be flourishing during the downturn were takeaways and phone shops.
Port Haverigg Marina Village, Cumbria, is one of Wyldecrest Park’s permanent trailer parts around the country
Another of the sites, Badgers Retreat Park, in Richmond, North Yorkshire, is set in 26 acres of land
So he waltzed into a nearby phone shop in East Ham, begged for a job as the tea boy, and spent three months picking up tips.
Three months later, he launched his own mobile phone business with the help of a loan. Within 18 months, he had 13 shops across London.
‘I made the right decision at the time,’ he said. ‘I remember when I went to see my bank manager, his exact words were: ‘You are an extremely unorthodox businessman’.
After selling that business, Mr Best moved into commercial property and now has up to 80 acres of industrial units spread around the country.
Some years later, his wife Emily suggested he revert to something of which he had more experience and knowledge. He decided to embark on a business in the motor home industry, buying his first one in 2001 for £1.7 million.
That business has gradually expanded and now Wyldecrest Parks runs 91 mobile home parks across the country.
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