The Apprentice attracts 8m viewers

'The Apprentice' attracted 8 million viewers for the opening episode of series seven last night (10.05.11), which is almost 1 million up on last series' opener

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Alan Sugar

Lord Alan Sugar

'The Apprentice' attracted 8 million viewers for the opening episode of series seven last night (10.05.11).

The BBC One show - which sees Lord Alan Sugar try to find a new business partner from 16 hopefuls - gained 30.9 per cent of the viewing audience, with a peak of 8.4 million viewers.

Additionally, the show had an average of 7.8 million viewers, which is nearly 1 million up on the debut episode of series 6, which attracted 6.9 million and a 27 per cent share.

The improved viewing figures are being put down to the new format, which will see the eventual winner given £250,000 to set up a business with Lord Sugar, rather than a job within his empire.

Mark Linsey, controller BBC Entertainment Commissioning, said: "How brilliant to see that 'The Apprentice' is still thrilling BBC One viewers. We're delighted that so many people enjoyed the show last night."

Lord Sugar added: "Fantastic news to see the audience growing. The change of format must really have appealed to the public and as the show rolls out over the next 10 weeks they will see that it's possible to start a business and I really hope that afterwards we hear some success stories from people who were inspired."

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