THE Apprentice fans were left disappointed when Lord Alan Sugar revealed that long-standing co-host Claude Littner would NOT be returning.
Viewers flooded social media with complaints as they tuned in to the first episode of the highly-anticipated new series of the show on Thursday night.
Claude was forced to pull out of filming last year after sustaining a nasty injury[/caption]
Claude was replaced by Apprentice winner TIm Campbell[/caption]
Introducing the new series of the show, Lord Alan, 74, detailed that his old advisor Claude, 72, had been replaced by show winner Tim Campbell.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen,” the business mogul began as he sat facing the 16 new hopefuls battling it out to win his favour.
“Now, you can see there is an empty chair here. My very good friend and business colleague Claude unfortunately will not be with us this series.”
“Regretfully, he had a nasty accident but he is on the mend and I’m sure that we all wish him well,” Lord Sugar added as the contestants gasped.
He went on to reveal Claude’s replacement would be Tim Campbell, who won the first series of the hit BBC One competition back in 2005.
Viewers flooded Twitter after the announcement to complain about Claude being missing from the show – as well as worrying over his mystery accident.
“There is no Claude this year? You can’t do this to me,” one fan wrote, as a second chimed in: “Feel like s***, just want Claude back.”
“It’s not the same without Claude,” a third wrote, as a fourth added: “What this series of The Apprentice is already missing, some classic Claude eyerolls.”
A fifth person concluded: “Eight minutes in and I miss Claude already.”
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Claude was forced to pull out of filming for The Apprentice after he had a nasty motorbike accident back in April 2021, badly injuring his leg.
The injury was so bad, doctors reportedly thought of amputating Claude’s leg – and he required nine surgeries throughout his recovery.
Speaking of his injury, Claude said he had been “pottering around”, near his home in London while filming for the BBC show went on.
“I suspect I hit a pothole or something like that”, he said, according to the BBC, “the next thing I knew, I was lying on the ground.”
While he explained he was “excited” for his new role in the programme, he admitted he was “saddened” by the news of Claude’s injury.
“Having been on the show myself, I know the hard that goes into it, so I didn’t take the decision lightly,” he said. “I wish Claude the very best as he recovers.”
Claude had been working alongside pal Lord Sugar since the 1990s – and was handed a majority of his UK directorships, including the chairman post at Viglen.
Claude joined good pal Lord Sugar on the panel in 2015[/caption]