Lord Sugar tweeted a picture of the team edited to include handbags and sunglasses laid out on sheets, with the caption: “I recognise some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multi tasking resourceful chaps.”
The star of the BBC’s The Apprentice, 71, responded to criticism of the post by saying: ”I cant see what I have to apologise for .... you are OTT ... its a bloody joke.”
He then tweeted: “Just been reading the reaction to my funny tweet about the guy on the beach in Marbella . Seems it has been interpreted in the wrong way as offensive by a few people . Frankly I cant see that I think it’s funny. But I will pull it down if you insist.”
The subsequent tweet did nothing to stop the condemnation online, with many describing the “joke” as racism.
Labour MP Dawn Butler said she would be writing to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards and the BBC calling for an investigation.
The original tweet has since been deleted.
Quote-tweeting a number of other users who had posted screenshots of the deleted message, Lord Sugar said: “if it so vile why have you retweeted it . You make me sick”.
About an hour later, he issued an apology.
He said: “I misjudged me earlier tweet. It was in no way intended to cause offence, and clearly my attempt at humour has backfired. I have deleted the tweet and am very sorry.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “Lord Sugar has acknowledged this was a seriously misjudged tweet, and he’s in no doubt about our view on this. It’s right he’s apologised unreservedly.”
Osasu Obayiuwana, a journalist and radio contributor, told Lord Sugar he should “know better”.
He added: “What you wrote was hurtful and plays to a racist stereotype. If you really don’t see what’s wrong with what you’ve written, you have a lot to learn still.”
Graham Linehan, the television writer, tweeted to Lord Sugar: “What is wrong with you?”
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