"I do travel to work by helicopter" - Mike Ashley tries to seem humble on TV and fails

Helen Cahill
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Sports Direct Founder Faces Commons Select Committee Over Working Conditions
Sports Direct's founder admitted this morning that he is a "PR nightmare person" (Source: Getty)

Sports Direct's founder Mike Ashley has said this morning that he travels to work by helicopter "because it's more efficient".

Ashley went on BBC breakfast this morning following an announcement that the company will be conducting an independent review of working practices and corporate governance, and answered questions about the moment he pulled out a wad of £50 notes at his company's annual general meeting (AGM).

"The one thing people didn't say to me was Mike, have you checked how much money you've got in your pocket...I do fly to work by helicopter - that's the reality," Ashley said. "I do like to go by private plane because it saves a lot of time and it's very efficient."

Read more: Sports Direct chairman: I have dealt with killers, I can survive board heat

"So Sports Direct will have a plane come in."

The retail tycoon explained that the AGM - which was open to the public for the first time - was in the spirit of honesty, and therefore the PR blunder was not surprising.

He admitted pulling out a huge amount of money when his company faces criticism for paying less than the minimum wage was a mistake, but defended himself, saying: "I don't set the minimum wage."

"I've never really tried to do PR and I am a PR nightmare person," he said.

Read more: Mike Ashley's Sports Direct needs a solid gameplan to rise from the ashes

Ashley continued to maintain that he didn't know what was going on at his own company, and said he does not have full control of the board.

"We've had some things we've had to fix and hopefully in the last 90 days we've fixed those things," Ashley said. "You would be surprised how little I knew what was going on."

"100 per cent we're quite dynamic as a board," he said. "Should I have been more responsible with HR?"

"The answer with hindsight is yes, but I genuinely wasn't dealing with those categories."

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