The Apprentice returned with almost seven million viewers on Wednesday, drawing a ‘Wow!’ from host Lord Sugar.

According to the Media Guardian, the premiere of series six drew 6.549 million viewers and a 25.8 per cent share on BBC1 from 9pm, with another 358,000 viewers, 1.4 per cent of the audience, watching on the BBC’s high definition channel.

Lord Sugar tweeted on Thursday: “Wow viewing figures just in 6.9m for apprentice last night brill for first episode.”

The Apprentice’s total audience of 6.9 million was the second biggest for a series opener to date, but down on the 8.1 million who watched the beginning of the fifth series in March 2009.

The Apprentice won its 9pm slot, beating Midsomer Murders on ITV1/ITV1 HD, which averaged 5.675 million viewers and a 23.2 per cent share.