A finance director for companies owned by Duncan Bannatyne will plead guilty to fraud, a court has heard.
Christopher Watson, 45, of Darlington, is charged with defrauding the companies of £8m to settle personal debts and buy properties.
But Mr Watson will dispute the amount at a later hearing, Teesside Crown Court was told.
He was granted bail and is due back in court on 24 September. The Bannatyne Group runs health clubs and hotels.
It was set up by the celebrity entrepreneur in 1996.