DRAGONS' Den tycoon Peter Jones lived up to his fearsome reputation when he visited Southampton's Millbrook Technology Campus yesterday.

The multimillionaire grilled staff and local students alike at the hi-tech business park as part of his work as a national final judge of the Enterprising Britain competition, which has named the campus as one of the 12 most enterprising places in the UK.

Renowned for fierce questioning and an intolerance of sloppy presentation, Mr Jones - whose personal fortune is estimated at £200m - employed similar tactics when confronted with youngsters from three local schools.

He sprang from his chair to snatch clipboards from youngsters' hands, demanding they look at him while they pitched business ideas in the style of Dragons' Den.

"You know what I'd love you to do is to put these down. Give me a bit more of a feel for it," he said to stunned teenagers from Ringwood standing clutching their speeches as they presented futuristic ideas for a business making hologram music video players.

Earlier Angela Wright, chief executive of youth employment agency Solent Skill Quest, found herself cut off in full flow as the 42-year-old telecoms tycoon waved his hand in her face and said: "It would be nice to hear the children."

Later she was full of admiration.

"He does exactly what he wants and he's not afraid of asking. He quickly synthesises what you're saying and gets right down to it. He's very smart."

Students from Swanmore School in Southampton found that out for themselves when he set about their idea for a company offering environmental awareness training to schools.

He immediately suggested they sell it to businesses and rejected their fears they wouldn't be listened to, saying: "They would if you were confident and didn't flounder around. You were cocky enough when I walked in here."

Later he praised the teenagers' plan.

"Seriously think about how you can roll this out. I wish you every bit of luck with a great idea."

Eleven-year-old Parth Malhan was asked what it was like working with "four women" on his five-strong team, which dreamt up a scheme to sell Milkshakes at Norwood School in Eastleigh.

"It can get annoying sometimes but you get used to it," he said.

"That won't change for the rest of your life," quipped Mr Jones before hailing their achievement in making £173 profit.

He was tight-lipped on the campus's prospects in the national final.

"I'm here to judge it and my first impressions are that there's a lot going on and it's early days.

"Everyone's a contender and they are all winners already really, just to get to this stage, but I'm being cagey and I'm not saying any more."

Steve Delaney, site services manager for NXP, one of the key companies behind the campus, said: "The fact that we have been nominated validates what we have been trying to achieve here. One of the challenges we have is to get people to know about us here so it's great that Peter Jones walks in and everyone in the world wants to know."