Lord Sugar’s sidekick Nick Hewer - who was speaker at the Sheffield City Region Awards in July - is to leave BBC1 hit series The Apprentice after a decade.
The PR guru, who has worked with the businessman since 1983 when he began promoting the Amstrad brand, has been an adviser on the show since it started in 2005.
Hewer, aged 70, said he thought it was the “appropriate time”, as his stamina is not what it was. But he said his departure was with “relief tinged with regret”.
He and Karren Brady keep an eye on the hopefuls and give feedback to Lord Sugar when he decides who to fire each week in the boardroom showdown.
His exit was announced as he filmed the final of this year’s series, which will be screened on Sunday night at 9pm.
Hewer, who also hosts Channel 4 afternoon words and numbers game Countdown, displayed his famed dry wit and spiky put downs during a gloriously indiscrete speech at the Sheffield City Region Business Awards at Ponds Forge in July.
Organised by Johnston Press, it pits the winners of four Chambers’ business awards against each other to find a ‘first among winners’.
The TV star told the black tie audience that the Apprentice was popular because viewers had a “good old sneer at contestants.”
He added: “Those hapless characters prompt the bloke at home sat on the sofa to say I can do better than that’, that’s why we think it works so beautifully.”
He also revealed just how every day working on the programme ended in a grilling from Sir Alan.
“We are putting in 14-hour days because he wants a briefing in the evening, he wants to know everything so he can go into the boadroom knowing everything.
“No one knows who he is going to fire. But I know the moment is going to come - because he starts to pant. They are good kids, some of them have done really well, but the boadroom is a place of terror.”
In explaining his decision to leave the show he revealed his stamina was not what it was.
He said: “I’ve been pondering my departure from The Apprentice for a while and have decided that year 10 is the appropriate time.
“I’ve enjoyed being part of this wonderful television series for two reasons: firstly, because it’s been fun and has opened up many unexpected opportunities for me, but more importantly, because I think The Apprentice is a truly valuable programme, teaching young people the basics of business - not in a classroom setting, but in a wonderfully entertaining format.
“And the winners each year validate the value of the show - talented, creative and hardworking young people, all of whom are making a great success of their businesses.”
He added: “So I leave with relief, tinged with regret. Anyone can do what Karren and I have been doing, but it takes stamina to follow the candidates week after week, and my stamina is not up to those long weeks.
“I shall continue to enjoy the show from my armchair, marvelling at the candidates’ self-esteem, at the sky-high production values of the producers and at the extraordinary talent of my old friend Alan Sugar.”
Margaret Mountford, who was his fellow adviser when the show began, stepped down in 2009 to be replaced by Baroness Brady.
Hewer went into public relations in the mid-1960s and headed his own company for more than years until it was sold in 1997.
He has looked after Lord Sugar’s public profile and has been a firm friend since they hooked up three decades ago.
Since launching his TV career on The Apprentice, he has also presented a number of shows including The Farm Fixer and The Town That Never Retired.
At the City Region Awards he revealed a little of life with Sugar.
He said Amstrad’s launch of its affordable PC in the 1980s saw its share price rocket overnight.
“Within two years it had 36 per cent of the European market.”
Later, another opportunity arose when Rupert Murdoch rang to ask if he could supply 100,000 satellite dishes ahead of the launch of Sky.
Hewer said: “At that time the only satellite dishes were on embassies, but Alan Sugar spoke to the people who make dustbin lids and when they proved too expensive he spoke to a hubcap company called Concentric.
“The dish I got in 1989 has only just fallen off the wall.”
Sunday’s Apprentice final will be immediately followed by You’re Hired.