Former Dragons' Den star James Caan has defended giving his daughters a leg up the career ladder – despite telling other parents not to help their own children get jobs.
Mr Caan - the new 'social mobility tsar' picked by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to promote opportunities for less well off youngsters - said successful parents should let their children stand on their own two feet.
"I fully understand that parents would want to do the best for their children," said Mr Caan, 52.
"But ... I don't think it's good to create a society where people get jobs based on who you know rather than what you can do.
"I think allowing children the opportunity to develop and find their own way through life is very good for society and very good for the kids."
But after he was hit with accusations of double standards, Mr Caan issued a statement saying: "I absolutely believe that parents should encourage their children to explore their own opportunities and define themselves in their own right.
"The fact is that parents will always have the innate feeling to help their children into jobs. I'm no different.
"However, it's my job now, as an entrepreneur and businessman to raise awareness that businesses should open their doors to all."
He added: "In my own situation, my eldest daughter Jemma spent four years of pursuing many jobs to establish herself on her own career path. I encouraged her to explore different opportunities without influencing her, but I guided her to the extent any parent can.
"More recently over the last six months she joined a recruitment company that I have an investment in. Despite my involvement she still had to go through a rigorous recruitment process with a number of different candidates and demonstrate her own abilities."
Critics pointed out that Mr Caan's investment company employed his daughter Hanah, and that she has been made a board member of the James Caan Foundation.
Mr Caan always makes friends and family looking for work experience apply formally through his company's human resources department, he has said. It is understood that Hanah was interviewed formally by a panel for her posts.
Mr Caan continued: "When my daughter, Hanah, studied at University she worked across a number of internships in London and also interviewed at various businesses that were organised without any input from me.
"When she graduated she volunteered in my, then, start up business Hamilton Bradshaw. She later submitted her CV and interviewed for a graduate internship position within the business to enable her to follow a formal process.
"As somebody who is highly experienced in the recruitment sector, I wanted her to understand the challenges of securing a role like any other applicant.
"At the same time we also interviewed another graduate who submitted their application through the website and they have progressed within the business to management level. Both candidates applied for jobs and submitted a CV and applied for the role using the same recruitment process."
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