Sir John Harvey Jones, the industrialist who led the giant ICI company before becoming a national TV star, died yesterday at the age of 83.

Described as the acceptable face of capitalism, the former submarine commander became renowned for his work as chairman of ICI during the 1980s, where he turned around the fortunes of the chemical giant.

When he took over in 1982, it was ailing and making huge losses, but in less than five years he turned it into a successful business, and in 1984 it became the first British company to post more than £1 billion in full-year pre-tax profits.

But it was his BBC television show Troubleshooter, in which he handed out straight-talking business advice to struggling companies, that made Sir John a household name. With his flowing locks, moustache and sharp suits, he cut a distinctive figure on the TV screens of the early 1990s, and the show was a huge success, running to five series.

Everyone from toy manufacturers and shirtmakers to a police force were given the benefit of his advice in the award-winning show. But when he went to classic car-makers Morgan in 1992 to tell it where it was going wrong he got more than he bargained for.

He said: "On one epic occasion I was out with my wife shopping and an angry bloke grabbed me by the throat and started jumping up and down because he thought I was screwing up the Morgan motor company. I tried to explain that it wasn't me, they were doing it themselves and he got even more angry.

"But I believe there is no point in giving advice if people don't listen."

In its fly-on-the-wall documentary style and Sir John's no-nonsense advice, Troubleshooter could be seen as a forerunner of current docu-dramas such as Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.

In 2006 however, he attacked the rising trend of aggressive managers such as Sir Alan Sugar, Gordon Ramsay and Simon Cowell on TV.

Criticising Apprentice star Sir Alan Sugar, he branded him a power-exploiting bully. In an attack on business reality TV shows in general, he also dismissed the trend towards aggressive management styles on TV.

Insisting the ethos behind his shows was always one of constructive guidance, he said: "It is not your job to exploit your position of power. It's easy (to do that). My experience of life is that you get the best out of people by encouraging their self belief."

Born in London on April 16 1924, Sir John grew up in India, where his father was guardian and tutor to a young maharajah.

In an interview in 2002, Sir John described his early lifestyle as "ludicrous" and "no preparation for anything".

Preparatory school in Kent came as a rude shock to the young Harvey-Jones as he was bullied to such an extent that he considered suicide.

He went on to the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth and in 1940 joined the Royal Navy, going on to become a submarine commander.

After the war, the Navy sent Sir John to Cambridge University to learn German and Russian and he then worked in Naval Intelligence as a German and Russian interpreter, eventually leaving the service in 1956 with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, to spend more time with his daughter, who had polio.

He joined ICI as a junior manager on Teesside, and rose through the ranks to join the board in 1973 and eventually become chairman in 1982.

Earlier this month, ICI, formed by the merger of four UK chemical companies in 1926 and a flagship of British industry for more than eight decades, passed into Dutch ownership after its £8 billion takeover by Akzo Nobel.

Sir John was knighted in 1985, and served as chancellor of Bradford University from 1986-91 and chairman of The Economist magazine from 1989-94.

In 1988 he received the title of Industrialist of the Year for the third year running. Knighted for services to industry, he also became honorary vice president of the Institute of Marketing.

He continued to serve in a number of posts after his retirement, including chairman of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, a member of The Advisory Council of the Prince's Youth Business Trust and as president of the MS Trust.

He passed away after a long battle with illness at Hereford Hospital yesterday morning.

ICI chief executive John McAdam said: "Although I personally never worked with John Harvey-Jones, he was a legend within ICI, and held in very high esteem by everyone in the company.

"It's very sad news."

Director general of the CBI Richard Lambert said: "He brought a sense of adventure and dynamism to the bureaucracy of ICI and made some bold decisions.

"He subsequently became the acceptable face of capitalism through his television programme and brought the world of business to millions in an accessible way."

Chief executive of the MS Society Simon Gillespie said: "The MS Society is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Sir John Harvey-Jones.

"He has been an excellent leader and superb contributor to the work of the MS Trust and of our joint efforts to support and improve the lives of people with MS."

Sir John, who lived just outside Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, won a Bafta for the Troubleshooter series, was named pipe smoker of the year in 1991 and even had a real ale named after him.

He published a number of best-selling books, including Making It Happen, Getting It Together, Managing To Survive and All Together Now.

Sir John married Mary Bignell in 1947 and they had one daughter, Gabrielle.