The Apprentice continues to grow with 7.5m viewers

LONDON - BBC One's 'The Apprentice' continues to go from strength to strength, with last night's episode up by 1m viewers on the previous week to 7.5m, according to unofficial overnight figures.

The penultimate episode of the business reality series, in which contestant Lucinda Ledgerwood was fired by Sir Alan Sugar, pulled in a 32.9% share of the audience.

The programme, showing at 9pm, has suffered in recent weeks in the face of a strong performance by ITV1, which has drawn bigger audiences with the Champions League Final and a live semi-final of 'Britain's Got Talent', which was concluded on Saturday.

Normal service has now resumed, with Sir Alan Sugar back on top in the primetime ratings war.

The last episode of ITV1's 'The Great British Body' drew 2.5m viewers and an 11.1% share in the same slot as 'The Apprentice', concluding a pretty dismal run for the three-part series in which Trinny and Susannah challenged the British public to strip naked.

Channel 4's second episode of cookery series 'River Cottage Spring', featuring Devon-based chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, grew its audience by 0.5m viewers to 2.4m and a 10.3% share between 9pm-10pm. Including Channel 4+1 ratings, it had 2.7m viewers and an 11.6% share.

BBC Two's 'Coast', in which Nicholas Crane presents a 13-week journey around the coast of the UK, brought in 2.1m viewers and a 9.3% share in the 9pm-10pm slot.

Earlier in the evening, Channel 4's returning property series 'Location, Location, Location' netted a healthy 2.7m viewers and a 13.2% share between 8pm-9pm, with Channel 4+1 taking the ratings up to 2.9m viewers and a 13.8% share.

The broadcaster is launching the ninth series of 'Big Brother' tonight, with the contestants set to unveil the new housemates in 'Big Brother Launch Show' at 9pm-10.40pm.

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