Wednesday’s final of BBC One’s hit series The Apprentice was watched by a record audience of nearly nine million viewers.

Figures released by the Media Guardian showed that 8.9 million tuned in between 9-10pm to watch Lee McQueen get chosen over Claire Young by Sir Alan Sugar in the boardroom showdown.

The show peaked in the last quarter hour, when 9.7 million watched Sir Alan hire Lee.

BBC One Controller Jay Hunt said: “Over 10 million people watched the moment when Sir Alan Sugar chose his apprentice.

“It is fantastic that a show with business at its heart can become unmissable television for such a large audience.”

Last week’s show set a new record of 7.5 million viewers, but Wednesday’s colossal audience proved the reality series has plenty of mileage left in the tank.

As a point of comparison, last year’s final of The Apprentice drew 6.8 milion viewers, although it was up against Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals on ITV1.