London: Silvio Berlusconi was forced to apologise after he crudely joked with an Italian woman about sex, just days before a national election.
The former Prime Minister asked the woman at a corporate event how many times she enjoyed sex and if he could look at her bottom, the Daily Mail reported.
He made his remarks in front of a giggling crowd of business people, male and female.
Angela Bruno , a 30-year-old employee of a renewable energy firm, was presenting a contract to Berlusconi at a recent ceremony when he asked her suggestive questions in front of senior colleagues, staff and members of the public.
"Do you come? only once?...how many times do you come?...with what sort of time intervals?" he asked her with a smirk on his face.
At the time she went along with the banter giggling nervously as the audience roared with laughter.
He then asked her to turn around, took a look at her bottom and said, "Yes, it is a convincing offer", prompting a round of applause and more laughter from men and women in the audience.
A video of the exchange has been viewed more than 950,000 times on YouTube and has sparked outrage on social networks.
Bruno told an Italian TV channel that her 13-year-old daughter had cried for days after seeing a video of the encounter, and the response it provoked.
Bruno told Italian television on Monday evening that she had tried to keep the conversation on a professional level but had been too intimidated to reprimand Berlusconi in public due to his position of power and the presence of senior staff.
In the interview, the married mother-of-one said she had been offended and embarrassed and demanded the apology.
Berlusconi did apologise in an interview on Radio 105 on Tuesday, but also said that Bruno had seemed to enjoy herself at the time.
He urged her to stop reading leftwing newspapers, which he said had exaggerated the seriousness of the exchange.