Outrage as Lord Sugar tweets 'racist' Senegal image
Lord Alan Sugar (Getty Images)
Cape Town - Lord Alan Sugar's BBC career could be in doubt after he posted a racist tweet with an image of the Senegal Soccer World Cup squad comparing them to black beach sellers.
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Hundreds of people reacted with fury to the 71-year-old Apprentice host, but he initially failed to back down, calling the reaction 'OTT' to what was a 'bloody joke'.
The tweet was eventually removed 23 minutes later, but Lord Sugar insisted this was only because it was 'interpreted in the wrong way as offensive by a few people'.
The message included an image of the Senegal squad on the pitch, edited to include handbags and sunglasses laid out on sheets.
Lord Sugar wrote above the image: 'I recognise some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multi tasking resourceful chaps.'
But the post was then deleted and Lord Sugar said: '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 can't see that I think it's funny. But I will pull it down if you insist.'
He had also tweeted, to a follower who asked when he would apologise: 'I can't see what I have to apologise for... you are OTT... it's a bloody joke.'
In another post in response to someone who had said it was 'not an OK tweet', Lord Sugar wrote: 'why not, it is meant to be funny... for God's sake.'
Sugar later told Mirror Online: 'It was meant as a joke. Someone sent me the picture and I tweeted. People know I have fought against racism for years.
The BBC, who broadcast The Apprentice, were preparing a statement on Wednesday. It is not yet known whether Scotland Yard are investigating the tweet.
Among the 23 players in the Senegalese World Cup squad, who beat Poland 2-1 on Tuesday, are seven who are based in England - including five in the English Premier League.
In reaction, bookmakers Paddy Power slashed the odds on Lord Sugar to not appear on the next series of The Apprentice from 20/1 to evens, and he is now rated at 5/1 to delete his Twitter account before next year.
Lord Sugar made his fortune as founder of electronics company Amstrad, and is estimated to be worth £1.15 billion.
He was chairperson of Premier League club Tottenham between 1991 and 2001, and has presented the British version of The Apprentice since 2005.
Labour prime minister Gordon Brown made Sugar, 71, a lord in 2009, but he left the party in 2015, citing its "negative business policies".
Later on Wednesday Lord Sugar apologised for the tweet, expressing his sorrow.