*Simon Ambrose won The Apprentice series three*

A fresh crop of budding entrepreneurs risk being told “You’re fired!” by Sir Alan Sugar when The Apprentice returns, this time to BBC One, for a third series.

A surprise hit for BBC Two, The Apprentice launched in February 2005 (after the success of the format in the US), and follows 14 men and women as they compete for a £100,000-a-year job as an apprentice to multi-millionaire business tycoon Sir Alan Sugar.

The candidates are split into two teams and must take part in a series of tough business challenges. Members of the losing team must report back to the boardroom to face a dressing down from boss Sir Alan, where one of them, ultimately, gets fired!

Tim Campbell, a transport manager for London Underground, was the first to be told: ‘You’re hired!’ in series one, with former supermarket checkout girl Michelle Dewberry, becoming the chosen one in the second series, shown last year.

Both series of The Apprentice have served up generous helpings of fun and frolics as the teams do whatever it takes to ensure that they’re not the ones to end up in the boardroom.

Who could forget James Max, parading around on TV wearing the most hideous unisex jacket to notch up extra sales in series one? Or Syed Ahmed ordering 100 chickens for just 90 pizzas in series two?

So, what will the candidates be getting up to this time round? Well, it was reported that filming had been spotted taking place outside London Zoo, where contestants were seen ‘dressed as gorillas and trying to sell sweets to children, but inadvertently terrifying them instead’.

Which of this year’s 16 hopefuls will find themselves in the firing line? And which bright spark will become Sir Alan’s latest protege?

Keep up with all the hiring and firing by logging on to whatsontv.co.uk.

Where are they now? Click here to find out what happened to past winners – and losers – of The Apprentice