Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson has topped a poll of would-be prime ministersVirgin Money

Sir Richard Branson has been voted the people's choice for prime minister, just days before the general election.

A poll of 2,000 Britons has found the billionaire was the first-choice businessperson to step into David Cameron's shoes, claiming 35% of the vote. Lord Alan Sugar came in second with 16%.

However, female business bosses did not fare as well, with Deborah Meaden from Dragons' Den and West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady both trailing Branson and Sugar, securing just 5% of votes each.

Younger respondents were more likely to opt for Meaden – among 18-24-year-olds, she secured 9% of votes. Branson topped the list with just 21% of this age group, according to a survey by lender Everline.

Russell Gould, COO of Everline, hailed the "business success, ambition and charisma" of Branson, Sugar and Meaden.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver came head-to-head in the findings, scoring 3% and 4% respectively.

Despite his global success, Simon Cowell struggled to show he has the X Factor to lead the country, with just 3% of votes.

The founder of Ultimo bras, Michelle Mone, was the top choice of just 1% of respondents, the same number as Towie's Joey Essex. Former Manchester United midfielder David Beckham got 2% of the vote.

Gould added: "We hope that the new government will do more to help small businesses get the support they need to grow, including access to advice and different finance options. This will help pave the way for the next generation of Richard Bransons to inspire people to start their own business and propel the UK's economic growth."