Yates said he is “hugely apologetic” for the “flippant” comment, adding that it “was not my intention to offend or reinforce stereotypes”.
Yates, 34, began his career in acting and went on to host numerous shows for BBC Radio 1 as well as present and direct documentaries.
In his early career he was a regular presenter for the children’s channel CBBC. He later presented Top of The Pops and BBC One’s prime time entertainment singing show The Voice UK.
Yates made the comments while appearing as a guest on a show titled “#Halfcast Podcast: Take Back The Power”.
The podcast, hosted by the DJ Chuckie Lothian, is a one-and-a-half hour conversation between the pair which was published on the SoundCLoud website earlier this month.
During the show, Yates also spoke of his childhood and growing up on a council estate in Holloway, north London, where his families struggled to pay bills and would hide from BBC licence fee payer collectors.
He said that when he started his acting career, he had to adapt to being surrounded by “white middle class people talking about wine and rugby”.
Yates said: “I am hugely apologetic for this flippant comment. It was not my intention to offend or reinforce stereotypes, but I’m aware that this could have been interpreted that way and for that I am also deeply sorry.
“What I was actually trying to say was how proud I am of the new generation of artists making their success independently on their own terms and without giving away control or their rights to major labels.”
The BBC declined to comment.