The McLaren racing boss Ron Dennis allegedly told an aircraft steward that he wanted to wash after "shaking hands with Arabs all day", an employment tribunal heard yesterday.
Peter Boland, 27, who was sacked by Mr Dennis in May 2007, said the tycoon had made the comment as he boarded his luxury jet in the Middle East.
The air steward had been surprised at the remark, but "it was not for me to point out these gaffes at the time".
Mr Boland, from Stowmarket in Suffolk, is alleging discrimination and victimisation due to sexual orientation at the hearing in Southampton. He has lodged the action against three companies controlled by Mr Dennis – McLaren Group Ltd, Absolute Taste and Greyscape. The companies and Mr Dennis deny the allegations.
Mr Boland, who is representing himself, said Mr Dennis had also been "insensitive" to Arab business associates by offering them drinks when they had already declined them.
Mr Boland said he had been a model employee in the five years he was in the employ of Greyscape but Mr Dennis had chastised him in front of a business associate when he nodded off on a flight. He also claimed that a staff member of Absolute Taste had spread a false rumour he was gay.
Mr Boland, who earned £32,000, said Mr Dennis had been pleased with his work but in May 2007 he was fired when Mr Dennis said he "lacked passion".
Jane Mulcahy, representing the companies,said Mr Boland was sacked after he fell asleep while on duty and was also rude. The case continues today.