Business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar has said women can narrow the gender pay gap by insisting they want to be paid more.
The Apprentice boss also said he thinks it is "disgraceful" the BBC was forced to publish the earnings of its top talent earlier this year.
The corporation has been caught up in a gender pay gap storm after its annual review highlighted top on-screen talent are paid more than £150,000 a year, and that two-thirds of those stars are male.
In the lead-up to the 13th series of The Apprentice, starting on BBC One on Wednesday, the 70-year-old entrepreneur said pay is a private issue.
He said: "I don't think transparency over pay is the correct thing. It's a private issue and I think it's disgraceful, actually, that the BBC were forced to publish what people were earning.
"I don't believe that people should publish what people are earning to start the debate that 'Charlie earns this, and Celia only gets that, but she does the same job'. I don't think that was right."
When asked if he sees the pay gap narrowing, the Apprentice star said: "It can be narrowed by the lady herself saying, 'No, I want more money'. Right, you want me to do that, I want more money'.
"Her agent should come along and say, 'Hold on, I know how much Charlie's being paid and I want more for my lady to do it.'
"If the BBC, or ITV, or Channel 4, or Channel 5 say 'nah, not really', then, tough. She'll have to decide what she wants to be paid."
Advisers Karren Brady and Claude Littner will join Lord Sugar in his search for a new business partner as The Apprentice returns to our screens with a batch of 18 new contestants.
Discussing the ongoing appeal of the show, Lord Sugar said: "There's an underlying business message in there, which has really inspired youngsters from the age of 13 upwards.
"I mean, if I had to visit every school that does a kind of apprentice process, you know, amongst students, there wouldn't be enough hours in the day or in the year to do it, so it has driven that throughout the whole of the country."
The Apprentice begins on BBC 1 at 9pm on October 4.
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