Lord Sugar has caused outrage by comparing Senegal’s football heroes to ‘guys from the beach in Marbella’ on Twitter.
The host of the BBC show The Apprentice referred to the players as ‘multi-tasking resourceful chaps’ – with social media users accusing him of being racist.
The tweet was accompanied by a picture of the team and an image of sunglasses and bags, similar to the products sold on beaches.
Sugar defended the post in a series of tweets after being branded racist.
In response to one user accusing the tweet of being ‘terrible’, he simply replied: "Why?"
Another said the tweet ‘wasn’t okay’, to which Sugar retorted: "Why not? It is meant to be funny. For God’s sake."
When a user asked how long it would take for him to be told to apologise, Sugar posted: "I can’t see what I have to apologise for. You are OTT. It’s a bloody joke."
He later deleted the original tweet.
Sugar then apologised on Twitter, posting: "I misjudged my 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."
He 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 and I sincerely didn’t think this could be interpreted in any other way other than funny.
"However, due to the comments on Twitter I pulled it down."
A BBC journalist, Babita Sharma, tweeted a screen grab of the original post, captioning: "A shocking, vile tweet that you take a screen grab of because you know it will soon be deleted."
Sugar responded: "If it is so vile, why have you retweeted it? You make me sick."
Senegal beat Poland 2-1 in their opening World Cup game on Tuesday to leave themselves joint top of Group H with Japan.
It is unclear whether Sugar was hacked – but he did later tweet an apology.
He 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."
It is not the first time Sugar has been caught up in a race storm on Twitter.
Police probed a post from 2013 in which he uploaded a photo of a child, apparently of Chinese origin, crying.
He tweeted: "The kid in the middle is upset because he was told off for leaving the production line of the iPhone 5."
The BBC 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.”
Mirror Online have contacted Kick It Out for comment.
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