North tycoon and television dragon Duncan Bannatyne has courted controversy by declaring fat people are lazier than their thinner colleagues.
As the star of popular BBC2 show Dragon's Den, Mr Bannatyne grills aspiring business people hoping to receive investment for their inventions.
But it was Mr Bannatyne - who is worth more than £100m and runs a chain of fitness clubs, hotels and casinos across the North - who was under the public spotlight yesterday after his outspoken comments.
The multimillionaire, who lives near Darlington, has been slammed by discrimination campaigners after declaring fat people work less hard than colleagues who keep fit.
He said: "Fat people don't work as hard as people who are not fat. It's clear if people who are fat are not working as hard as people who are not fat, then it's to do with their weight. It's not my job to explain it, it's a fact."
Bannatyne, who grew up in poverty, but now has a chain of 61 health clubs throughout the UK and has recently opened a new hotel in Durham City, said he did not believe people would be upset by his comments, despite declaring: "I think somebody who's fit can think faster and work faster. Somebody who hasn't looked after themselves won't train their brain and won't train their body. They will just smoke cigarettes or stuff themselves with pies.
"They're less likely to go out and want to apply themselves and work hard."
A charity, The Obesity Awareness and Solutions Trust, was quick to condemn Bannatyne. Spokeswoman Siobhain Santry said: "It is appalling someone in his position should make this remark.
"He falls into the trap of not being able to see the person, only the weight, and assuming a person with a weight problem is naturally lazy, greedy and has no self-respect.
"It's a stereotype, like a fat Andy Capp. He's out of touch with the causes of obesity and he's out of touch with having compassion for people."
She added Bannatyne had effectively condemned more than two-thirds of the adult population, who are graded as overweight or obese.
Her criticism was echoed by bosses at campaign group Fat is the New Black, which argues discrimination against overweight people is as virulent as racism once was.
Founder Vicki Swinden, who weighs more than 20 stone, said: "The perception is that fat people are thick, but they are not different from you or Duncan Bannatyne. They just look different. It's sad that he's proving himself to be of limited intelligence on this subject."