Small firms are fuming but life is still sweet for Sugar

He left struggling small-business owners picking their jaws up off the floor when he called them "moaners" earlier this week, but so-called Enterprise Tsar Lord Alan Sugar still has the backing of the prime minister.

The national council of the 215,000-strong Federation of Small Businesses called for Sugar to be replaced by "someone with more understanding and empathy for the small business sector" after the comments, made at a finance-themed conference in Manchester.

According to The Apprentice star, famed for his "You're fired" catchphrase, ironically enough, 85 per cent of small firms applying for bank loans at the moment do not deserve to be given any cash – and most would be better off receiving bankruptcy advice.

Referring to the "irresponsible manner" in which banks lent to firms before the recession, he remarked to his audience: "Let me tell you … you have lived in the unrealistic Disneyworld in the way banks dished out money."

The former Amstrad boss continued: "I can honestly say a lot of problems you hear from people who are moaning are from companies I wouldn't lend a penny to … they are bust, the moaners are bust."

Gordon Brown has dismissed any criticism of Sugar and maintains he has full confidence in his new "enterprise champion".