900,000 fewer viewers for debut episode of The Apprentice


The new series of The Apprentice kicked off on Thursday, and the debut episode saw a 900,000 drop in viewers compared with last year's series opener.

An average of 5.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the 18 new candidates take on an antique-selling challenge in the first episode of the 12th series.

Last year, the launch of Lord Sugar's reality programme garnered an average of 6.4 million viewers.

Despite being down by nearly a million viewers, the episode was the evening's most-watched programme and scored a 26.3% share of the audience.

These figures do not account for people watching on catch-up and on-demand services.

This was the first time the BBC One programme has been broadcast on a Thursday night after moving from its regular Wednesday evening slot.

The most highly watched series launch of The Apprentice was in 2009, with an average of 8.1 million tuning in for the broadcast.

Lord Sugar's show was up against some serious competition in the 9pm time slot, including BBC Two drama The Fall and Channel 4's fugitives-on-the-run reality programme Hunted.

The debut episode of The Apprentice saw mortgage and lettings business owner Michelle Niziol fired by the business mogul as she flailed in the sales task, mainly for failing to introduce a coherent pricing strategy.