BBC host Andrew Neil told Mrs Sturgeon her "obsession" with breaking up the UK could plunge Scotland into financial disaster.
He said: "The Scottish economy is now growing at less than a quarter of the pace of the UK economy, it could be on the brink of recession.
"Don't you think that you should end your obsession with independence and start generating some growth in Scotland?"
We've also had the issues with North Sea oil and gas
She responded by blaming oil and gas revenues, which have plunged in recent months, and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
The First Minister told Mr Neil: "Yes, we've seen some growth slow – the UK as a whole has seen growth slowing.
"We've also had the issues with North Sea oil and gas, which has fed through the Scottish supply chain."
But she insisted it was "flatly wrong" to suggest the SNP has achieved nothing since coming to power in Scotland a decade ago.
BBC host Andrew Neil savaged Nicola Sturgeon's handling of the Scottish economy Nicola Sturgeon's comical moments on the campaign trail Mon, May 22, 2017 PA 1 of 13
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon stops for an ice cream after making an election campaign visit to Scottish Gas HQ in Granton, Edinburgh
Mr Neil continued to grill Mrs Sturgeon and branded her economic record "terrible".
As he again claimed the SNP could trigger a recession, the left-winger replied: "I'm working very hard to ensure that's not the case."
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She added: "There's much to be positive about in the Scottish economy, but much to do as well."
The Scottish First Minister and SNP leader struggled to defend her record
Mrs Sturgeon also admitted the SNP could try to form a coalition with other left-wing parties after next month's Westminster election.
But she added: "If there was to be a hung Parliament, of course we would look to be part of a progressive alliance that pursued progressive policies."
She admitted her party could form a coalition with Jeremy Corbyn's Labour
Recent opinion polls across the UK have showed Theresa May's lead over Labour shrinking amid a backlash at her proposed social care reforms.
An ORB poll for the Sunday Telegraph put support for Labour on 38 per cent, six points behind the Conservatives.
The result which would see Mr Corbyn outpoll both Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown, who suffered humiliating defeats in 2015 and 2010 respectively.