Nick Hewer: The Apprentice takes its toll on Lord Sugar…and he may quit soon

Sugar's right hand man gives first hint from inside the team that Lord Sugar may only have one or two more series left in him

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Alan Sugar is so devoted to the Apprentice it could even be damaging his business interests, his right hand man Nick Hewer has claimed – and the business tycoon may even quit soon.

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Hewer tells this week’s Radio Times that Lord Sugar’s commitment to the BBC1 show is taking such a toll that he may even consider throwing in the towel in one or two years. Hewer adds that the BBC ought to then rest the show for three years once he goes.

“He won’t get bored,” insists Nick Hewer, Lord Sugar’s left-hand man in the series which began airing in 2004. “But he is all over this show for 12 months of the year, every task, every aspect of the scheduling, marketing, and press – everything. Don’t think he just pops in, does his little bit and pushes off home. Not a chance. He’s very devoted: possibly, I think, to the detriment of his other business interests.”

The current series has not yet run its course but invitations to apply for the tenth series in 2014 are already being advertised on the show’s site and Hewer believes the end may be close.

“I wouldn’t be surprised  if at some point after ten years he said, ‘Actually lads, I think I’ve done my bit.’

“He’s done his duty. I’m only speculating, I’ve got no idea! He might say he’s only going to do 11 or 12 series, but then find it hard to walk away because it’s his baby.”

Hewer declined to speculate on who may take over but he said that high profile businessmen would clamour to do it.

 “People would pay to do that job,” insists Hewer. “But as a broadcaster, the BBC would have a really tough decision whether or not to rest this programme. “If Alan Sugar says, ‘Look, I’ve done my ten years,’ or whatever it is, if he thinks he’s done his bit, I think they would be crackers to run it the next year with someone else.

“Because it’s his show, and he’s made such an impression that you would need to be a suicide merchant to take it on after Sugar in the next year.”

Hewer said that once he goes the show should undergo a hiatus.

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“Rest it for three years, let the memories dim, and then bring it back. But, you know, somebody will say, ‘Are you mad? We want those eight million viewers,’ or whatever it is. It’s a huge show. Nobody wants to say ‘cheerio’ to such a successful format. That will be a hard decision.”