Sir Alan Sugar signs up to front Junior Apprentice on BBC

LONDON - Sir Alan Sugar will get to harangue a group of 16- to 17-year-olds, one of whom will be lucky enough to become the tycoon's 'Junior Apprentice', thanks to the BBC commissioning a spin-off to its hit business reality show.

TalkbackThames is producing the series, which will comprise five hour-long episodes and will run in addition to the flagship 'The Apprentice', which is currently on air and returns for a sixth series next year.

Talkback is on the hunt for 16- to 17-year-old boys and girls to apply. Each week the series will pit two teams against one another and someone from the losing team will be fired at the end of each episode.

Candidates from all backgrounds are being encouraged to apply, with or without qualifications. Teenagers can apply by visiting the series website.

Sugar said: "It is my long-held belief that we should be doing more to promote enterprise among young people, as the future of our economy relies on them.

"Understandably, the contestants won't have any previous business experience, but all I want to see from them is an entrepreneurial aptitude and an enthusiasm to succeed."

The winner of 'The Junior Apprentice' will win a £25,000 prize tailored to his or her career prospects.

Lorraine Heggessy, TalkbackThames's chief executive, said: "'Junior Apprentice' is a great opportunity for teenagers to learn about business first hand from one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs, Sir Alan Sugar.

"The main series of 'The Apprentice' is extremely popular with younger audiences and we're delighted to give them a chance to prove themselves in this challenging competitive environment."

This week's edition of 'The Apprentice, which saw trainee stockbroker Ben Clarke become the latest contestant to be booted off the show, drew almost 5m more viewers than ITV1, according to unofficial overnight figures.