Lord Sugar says he is “very sorry” after posting a joke on Twitter which was branded “racist”.
The ‘Apprentice’ star sparked a backlash when he posted a photo of the Senegal football team likening them to beach market sellers, following their World Cup match against Poland on Tuesday.
The tweet featured a picture of the team along with images of sunglasses and handbags, commenting: “I recognise some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multi tasking resourceful chaps.”
The tweet gained immediate reaction from his followers who accused the ‘Apprentice’ star of racism.
This is an incredibly racist tweet!! WOW.— Ricky Williams (@rickyleewills) June 20, 2018
in case you missed it, here's the vile, racist crap @Lord_Sugar posted this morning. make a complaint to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards. after this he better be fired by the BBC. pic.twitter.com/LcggLpRfj0— Michael Segalov (@MikeSegalov) June 20, 2018
However, Lord Sugar stood by his tweet, and refused to accept the racism accusations. He told followers he didn’t “see what he had to apologise for” and told them their reactions were “OTT”.
I cant see what I have to apologise for .... you are OTT ... its a bloody joke https://t.co/paa1o32uM4— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) June 20, 2018
why not it is meant to be funny ....... for god sake https://t.co/fokO9QRhpT— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) June 20, 2018
Just minutes later, Sugar removed the offending tweet, but still claimed he thought it was “funny” and it had been “misinterpreted”.
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 .— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) June 20, 2018
He wrote: “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.”
However, an hour later, he finally bowed to pressure to apologise, saying he was “very sorry”.
He wrote: “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.”
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.— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) June 20, 2018
His comments had been met with criticism from Christine Jardine MP.
The Lib Dem Foreign Affairs spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “These shocking remarks are racist and abhorrent. They are shameful. This is also disturbingly similar to Alan Sugar’s counterpart on the US ‘Apprentice’.
“They are unacceptable from someone who occupies such a high profile and position of authority on TV and in the Lords. Instead of doubling down, Lord Sugar should unreservedly apologise.”
People on Twitter were also still calling for him to be fired from his role on ‘The Apprentice’:
You need to be fired from the @bbcapprentice ! How can you be so unaware of the offense in that tweet. As a Jewish person I presumed you would be much more sensitive to cultural stigmas and the hurt caused by perpetuating negative stereotypes. Shame on you ! pic.twitter.com/aIFuPkeclY— Niall Moloney (@chiefbaalbec) June 20, 2018
Hope you get fired from the apprentice for this tweet. Vile racist.— R a q u e l (@raquel92__) June 20, 2018
I had to check this was true. Sadly, it is. I think its you that needs to be fired, Lord Sugar. https://t.co/qdyojfCGNS— Macapella (@Macapella) June 20, 2018
HuffPost UK has contacted a BBC spokesperson for comment, and is awaiting a response.
This is far from the first time Sugar has posted offensive tweets that have caused controversy. Back in March, he was condemned for posting a Jeremy Corbyn meme likening him to a Nazi.
He originally brushed off criticism telling one person who called the meme “completely disgraceful” to simply “shut up”, but eventually issued a full apology after being called out by Labour MP John McDonnell.
Lord Sugar previously acted as Labour’s official enterprise champion during Gordon Brown’s time as prime minister, but he quit the party in 2015 because of a perceived shift to what he called “Old Labour”.
“In the past year I found myself losing confidence in the party due to their negative business policies and the general anti-enterprise concepts they were considering if they were to be elected,” he said at the time.